What Is The Raw Material of Medicine?
Have you taken your vitamins today? If haven’t, I would highly recommend you to take vitamins every day, so your body will be healthy and fit. Also, don’t forget to keep exercising regularly. Speaking of which, do you know that vitamins in pills’ form are made from synthetic ingredients? Yes, they are made from synthetic materials produced by the laboratory. These materials are often used to make medicines to improve the quality of human life and support human health, so it will be useful and even some of these drugs are vitally needed by certain people, by the helping of technology. But are you sure that there is only one source of medicinal ingredients? I don’t think so. Why? Because there are several types of medicinal sources that exist in human life.
Based on the manufacture, the ingredients can be obtained from various types, those are :
- Plants (Flora)
Plants were the main source of physiologically active ingredients whose therapeutic properties could be tested before it was discovered that medicines could be synthesized. Some example are morphine from the poppy flower, quinine from the bark of quinine, digitalis from the leaves of digitalis lanata, and belladona from the belladona herb. Drugs derived from vegetable products are obtained by utilizing all or certain parts of plants so that they can be used as medicinal ingredients that can be consumed by humans. These parts include: quinine (skin), rauwolfia (root); digitalis (folium); roses (flowers); distance (seed), and so on.
- Animals (Fauna)
Is a drug that comes from animals that are used for certain body parts to be used as medicine for human being. The use of materials from animals was exist from ancient Greece. Ancient pharmacists used ingredients from reef fish, earthworms, frogs, lizards, scorpions, snails, swallows, toads, snakes, and woodlice to mix powders, oils and syrups. Products that is produced from animal sources such as thyroid hormone, insulin, oestrogen, epinephrine, and diphtheria antitoxin are still used today. Medicines with biological ingredients include: fish oil, lanolin (fat of sheep’s wool), insulin (cow endocrine glands).
- Mineral, such as Potassium Iodate (KI), Sodium Chloride (NaCl), paraffin, and Vaseline
Minerals (both metallic and non-metallic minerals) have been used as drugs since ancient times. Our body requires trace elements of minerals in order to maintain homeostasis. Patients lacking an adequate level of these materials may take specific mineral-based drugs to raise the level of minerals. Examples include ferrous sulphate in iron deficiency anaemia; magnesium sulphate as purgative; magnesium trisilicate, aluminium hydroxide and sodium bicarbonate as antacids for hyperacidity and peptic ulcer; zinc oxide ointment as skin protectant, in wounds and eczema; gold salts (solganal, auranophin) as anti-inflammatory and in rheumatoid arthritis; selenium as anti-dandruff. Radioactive isotopes of iodine, phosphorus, gold are employed for the diagnosis/treatment of diseases particularly malignant conditions.
The medicines can be made from synthetic or artificial ingredients. Because of the large amount of medicinal potential found in plants, it is important to see if these materials can be made chemically. The first medicine that was a synthetic product was quinine. Then followed by morphine and cocaine. After the structural formula of the new drug has been found, the next step is chemical synthesis. This step is a faster and cheaper way to manufacture drugs. This step is the most common way of making medicines used today. In addition, sometimes the basic structure of the drug is obtained from natural products and then converted in the laboratory into semisynthetic drugs, for examples: vitamin C, camphor, codeine, paracetamol, and others.
- Microorganism for Antibiotics
Antibiotics don’t help in the fight against viral infections. There are special anti-viral medications, but these merely stop the growth of viruses. They don’t eliminate viruses completely. When it comes to viruses, it’s mostly a question of waiting out the infection – most of them are not deadly. But we can activate our immune systems against viruses ahead of time with vaccinations. We introduce dead, weakened, or particles of a virus into our systems, usually through an injection. In reaction to this, our immune systems build up antibodies that usually protect us from a specific virus for years.
There are so many sources of medicinal ingredients that can be consumed by humans until now. This is a great progress for humans, because with the existence of various sources of medicinal ingredients that can be an alternative for humans to get health that is commensurate for themselves, the quality of human life will also increase. And it is not impossible that in the future there will be more sources of medicinal ingredients discovered by humans, because of the science and technology that continues to develop.
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Dra. Gloria Murtini, M. A. (2016). Farmestika Dasar. Jakarta: Kementrian Kesehatan Republik Indonesia.