31578 - Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Responsible consumption and production Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Students will learn how to describe crude drugs from plants, their origin, the content in active principles, pharmacological activities and uses. During the laboratory course, students will learn how to identify and describe medicinal plants. Plant drugs will be also analysed by the aid of optical microscopy. Specific chemical identification reactions will be carried out for the different classes of constituents.

Course contents

Unit 1: Pharmacognosy: Lucia Carboni

Definition of pharmacognosy; general concepts to study crude drugs obtained from medicinal plants with respect to morphology, phytochemistry, pharmacology and toxicology. Harvesting and conservation of medicinal plants. Quality controls of plant material. Sample identification, macroscopical and microscopical characters.

Crude drugs containing carbohydrates; lipids; phenolic, tannin, anthraquinone, saponin, cardioactive, cyanogenetic, anthocyanin, flavonoid glycosides; coumarins; glucosinolates. Crude drugs containing terpene and terpenoid derivatives: volatile oils, resins, balsams. Crude drugs containing alkaloids.

Unit 2: Phytotherapy: Ester Speroni

Definition of phytotherapy. Phytotherapic treatments of respiratory, digestive, cardiovascular, urogenital diseases. Phytotherapic treatments for disorders of the central nervous system. Phytotherapic treatments for inflammation.

Unit 3: Laboratory: Lucia Carboni

Evaluation of foreign material; weight loss at drying.

Carbohydrate-containing drugs: microscopic and macroscopic identification of Agar, Burdock, Marshmallow, Fucus, Starch, Tragacant, Gum, Couch-grass, Guar gum, Laminaria, Linseed, Iceland moss, Marshmallow, Corn, Manna, Psyllium, Rice, Linden flower. Swell index; chemical identifications of Starch and Tragacant.

Alkaloid-containing drugs: microscopic and macroscopic identification of Aconite, Belladonna, Fumitory, Hyoscyamus, Guarana, Hydrastis, Nux vomica, Stramonium, Chincona bark, Ipecacuanha, Boldo, Kola nut. Chemical identifications of Chincona bark and Boldo.

Anthraquinone-containing drugs: microscopic and macroscopic identification of Aloes, Cascara bark, Frangula bark, Rhubarb, St. John’s wort, Senna. Chemical identifications of Aloes, Rhubarb, Senna.

Tannin-containing drugs: microscopic and macroscopic identification of Hamamelis, Hawthorn, Lady’s mantle, Cherry pedicel, Heath, Strawberry, Karkadè, Rhatany root, Rose fruit, Willow bark, Hydrocotyle, Bearberry leaves. Chemical identifications of Hamamelis, Bearberry leaves.

Flavonoid-containing drugs: microscopic and macroscopic identification of Mugwort, Devil's claw, Marigold, Artichoke, Centaury, Chrysanthellum, Coneflower, Gentian, Ginkgo (Maidenhair tree), Aesculus, Hyssop, Pomegranate, Lingonberry, Passionflower, Elder flower, Tea, Europaen vervain, Rhodiola, Meadowsweet, Vine. Chemical identifications of Tea, Red orange.

Cardioactive glycoside-containing drugs: microscopic and macroscopic identification of Spring adonis, Foxgloves, Squill, Rose laurel (Oleander). Chemical identifications of Oleander.

Saponin-containing drugs: microscopic and macroscopic identification Siberian ginseng, Fenugreek, Ginseng, Restharrow, Liquorice root, Senega. Chemical identifications of Liquorice root and Senega.

Drugs containing volatile oils: microscopic and macroscopic identification of Yarrow, Dill, Angelica, Star anise, Aniseed, Bitter orange peel, Orange flower, Arnica, Wormwood, Calamus, Matricaria, Chamomille, Cinnamom, Capsicum, Cardamom, Colophony, Holy thistle, Calumba, Condurango, Coriander, Caraway, Cumin, Turmeric, Damiana, Fennel, Eucalyptus, Male fern, Clove, Juniper, Frankincense, Lavender, Hop, Melissa, Peppermint, Myrrh, Pepper, Pine, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Valerian.


G. Mazzanti, M. Dell'Agli, A.A. Izzo, Farmacognosia e Fitoterapia, Piccin

G.L. Biagi –E. Speroni, Farmacognosia, Patron Editore

F. Poli, Biologia Farmaceutica 2 edizione, Pearson Italia

M. Heinrich, J. Barnes, S. Gibbons, E. M. Wiliamson, Fondamenti di farmacognosia e fitoterapia, Edra

Teaching methods

Unit 1 and unit 2 are delivered as oral teaching (64 hours); unit 3 is a laboratory course (9 laboratory sessions of 4 hours).

As concerns the teaching methods of this course unit, all students must attend Module 1, 2 [https://www.unibo.it/en/services-and-opportunities/health-and-assistance/health-and-safety/online-course-on-health-and-safety-in-study-and-internship-areas] online, while Module 3 on health and safety is to be attended in class. Information about Module 3 attendance schedule is available on the website of your degree programme.

Assessment methods

Students are evaluated in a test aimed at recognizing the drugs examined during the laboratory course; students are also required to submit a report describing the activities carried out during the laboratory course.

Students are evaluated in an oral examination on Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy programs. Exams will be taken online if the situation so required. Participation to 7 out of 9 laboratory sessions is mandatory to be allowed to take the oral examination.

Teaching tools

Teaching tools are available on Virtuale web site.

Medicinal plants are available during the laboratory course.

Office hours

See the website of Lucia Carboni

See the website of Ester Speroni