Techniques: Bioprospecting historical herbal texts by hunting for new leads in old tomes

Eric J. Buenz, David J. Schnepple, Brent A. Bauer, Peter L. Elkin, John M. Riddle, Timothy J. Motley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Ethnobotany has led to the identification of novel pharmacological agents but many challenges to using ethnobotany as a research tool remain. In particular, the loss of traditional knowledge together with the advent of high-throughput screening has made ethnobotanical techniques laborious and potentially unnecessary. However, historical herbal texts provide a preexisting resource that documents the traditional uses of various species as medicines. As generational losses of traditional knowledge accrue, these herbal texts become increasingly valuable. The methodology for extracting useful information contained within these resources had been cumbersome and consuming. However, the application of new bioinformatics data-mining systems to herbal texts holds great promise for identifying novel pharmacotherapeutic leads for bioactive compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-498
Number of pages5
JournalTrends in Pharmacological Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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