6 Top Source of Drugs | Pharmacognosy


A drug is a chemical substance which is mainly used to treat the diseases. in this article, we will introduce you to the top source of drugs. Drugs are obtained from six major sources:

The Top Source of Drugs Are:

  1. Animal sources
  2. Plant sources
  3. Semi-synthetic sources/ Synthetic sources
  4. Mineral/ Earth sources
  5. Microbiological sources
  6. Recombinant DNA technology

1. Animal Source of drugs:

Animals are also a source of drugs. the below points are:

  • Urine of pregnant women gives human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) used for the treatment of infertility.
  • The pancreas is a source of Insulin, used in the treatment of Diabetes.
  • Cod liver is used as a source of vitamin A and D.
  • Sheep thyroid is a source of thyroxin, used in hypertension.
  • Blood of animals is used in the preparation of vaccines.
  • The anterior pituitary is a source of pituitary gonadotropins, used in the treatment of infertility.
  • Stomach tissue contains pepsin and trypsin, which are digestive juices used in the treatment of peptic diseases in the past. Nowadays better drugs have replaced them.

2. Plant Source of drugs:

Plant source is the oldest source of drugs. Most of the drugs in ancient times were derived from plants. Almost all parts of the plants are used i.e. leaves, stem, bark, fruits, and roots.


  • Leaves of Eucalyptus give oil of Eucalyptus, which is an important component of cough syrup.
  • The leaves of Digitalis Purpurea are the source of Digitoxin and Digoxin, which are cardiac glycosides.
  • Tobacco leaves give nicotine.
  • Atropa belladonna gives atropine.
6 Top Source of Drugs | Pharmacognosy
6 Top Source of Drugs | Pharmacognosy


  • Vinca rosea gives vincristine and vinblastine
  • Poppy papaver somniferum gives morphine (opoid)
  • Rose gives rose water used as tonic.

Photo of Papaver somniferum by Evelyn Simak


  • Vinca rosea gives vincristine and vinblastine
  • Senna pod gives anthracine, which is a purgative (used in constipation)


  1. Castor oil seeds give castor oil.
  2. Seeds of Nux Vomica give strychnine, which is a CNS stimulant.
  3. Calabar beans give Physostigmine, which is a cholinomimetic drug.


  1. Rauwolfia serpentina gives reserpine, a hypotensive agent.
  2. Ipecacuanha root gives Emetine, used to induce vomiting as in accidental poisoning. It also has amoebicidal properties.
  3. Reserpine was used for hypertension treatment.


  1. Atropa belladonna gives atropine, which is anticholinergic.
  2. Cinchona bark gives quinine and quinidine, which are antimalarial drugs. Quinidine also has antiarrythmic properties.
  3. Hyoscyamus Niger gives Hyosine, which is also anticholinergic.


Chondrodendron tomentosum gives tuboqurarine, which is skeletal muscle relaxant drug used in general anesthesia.

3. Synthetic/ Semi synthetic Sources:

i. Synthetic Sources:

  • When the nucleus of the drug from natural source as well as its chemical structure is altered, we call it synthetic.
  • Examples include Emetine Bismuth Iodide

ii. Semi Synthetic Source:

  • When the nucleus of drug obtained from a natural source is retained but the chemical structure is altered, we call it semi-synthetic.
  • Examples include Apomorphine, Diacetyl morphine, Ethinyl Estradiol, Homatropine, Ampicillin and Methyl testosterone.
  • Most of the drugs used nowadays (such as antianxiety drugs, anticonvulsants) are synthetic forms.

4. Mineral Source of drugs:

i. Metallic and Non metallic sources:

  1. Iron is used in the treatment of iron deficiency anemia.
  2. Mercurial salts are used in Syphilis.
  3. Zinc is used as a zinc supplement. Zinc oxide paste is used in wounds and in eczema.
  4. Iodine is antiseptic. Iodine supplements are also used.
  5. Gold salts are used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

ii. Miscellaneous Sources:

  1. Fluorine has antiseptic properties.
  2. Borax has antiseptic properties as well.
  3. Selenium as selenium sulphide is used in anti dandruff shampoos.
  4. Petroleum is used in preparation of liquid paraffin.

5. Microbiological Sources:

  1. Penicillium notatum is a fungus which gives penicillin.
  2. Actinobacteria give Streptomycin.
  3. Aminoglycosides such as gentamicin and tobramycin are obtained from streptomycis and micromonosporas.

6. Recombinant DNA technology:

  • Recombinant DNA technology involves cleavage of DNA by enzyme restriction endonucleases.
  • The desired gene is coupled to rapidly replicating DNA (viral, bacterial or plasmid). The new genetic combination is inserted into the bacterial cultures which allow production of the vast amount of genetic material.
  1. A drug can be obtained in pure form.
  2. Huge amounts of drugs can be produced.
  3. It is less antigenic.
  1. Highly trained staff is required.
  2. A well equipped lab is required.
  3. It is a complex and complicated technique.


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