Phytomedicine is an area of pharmacology in which plant materials are used for both preventive and therapeutic treatments.
With the increasing resistance of parasites and micro-organisms to commercially available anti-parasitic and antimicrobial drugs (for more on antimicrobial resistance click here), the need to find treatments that improve animal and human health directly, and improve food security indirectly, is becoming an essential area of research. Prof Lyndy McGaw, Programme Leader of the Phytomedicine Programme at the Department of Paraclinical Sciences in the Faculty of Veterinary Science, explains the necessity of developing alternative treatments for the potentially devastating effects of diseases caused by parasites. Considering that up to 25% of prescription medication is derived from plants, it seems an obvious pursuit to develop medicines made up predominantly of plant-based products.
The Phytomedicine Programme at the University of Pretoria started in 1995 and has developed to such a degree that in 2007, it was designated as a National Research Foundation (NRF) Developed Research Niche Area.
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