Phyto research: What does the future look like?

What will research in the field of herbal medicines look like in the future?

What is the future of research into herbal medicines? This question was dealt with by experts at an event organized by the non-profit committee for research on natural medicine in Munich. Her conclusion: the bureaucratic hurdles have to be revised and medical research as a whole has to be adapted more closely to the individual needs of patients. Phytotherapy can make an important contribution to this.

Germany has lost its leading position in Europe in self-medication: The number 1 is currently Russia. While the market for OTC preparations in Eastern Europe grew by nine percent last year and still increased by one percent in Europe as a whole, it fell by one percent in Germany in the same period, reported Prof. Dr. Michael Habs, Karlsruhe. This also has negative consequences for research in this country, which is almost entirely borne by industry. If Germany is to become more attractive again for phyto research, the inadequate property rights and the high bureaucracy costs must be corrected. This is the only way to maintain the traditional pioneering role. Phyto-research can then also help to better meet the increasingly louder demand for individualized medicine.

Although high-quality herbal medicinal products are clearly effective when used correctly, as has been proven in numerous studies, they are rarely included in the guidelines of scientific societies, explained Prof. Theo Dingermann, Frankfurt. This is mainly due to the fact that experts generally only perceive the medicinal plant and not the specific medication when assessing it. Research has long shown how different different products from a drug can be in terms of their molecular composition and their action profile. The quality of the medicinal plant or part of the medicinal plant used is just as important here as the solvent for extraction and the specific manufacturing process. One would therefore have to optimize the previous evaluation practice: more phyto-experts should be represented in the guideline commissions, demanded Prof. Dingermann. (kfn)

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