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BRAZILIAN PHARMACOPOEIA OF LOUIS NAPOLEON CHERNOVIZ (1812-1881)
André J. Fabre Octobre 2012
Louis Napoleon Chernoviz, was a Polish doctor who had found refuge in France after the attempted revolt in Warsaw in 1831.
Once acquired in Montpellier his medical degree, he was sent in 1840 by King Louis Philippe in mission to Brazil for the Emperor Dom Pedro II.
After a brilliant medical career in Rio de Janeiro, he undertook during his stay in Brazil, writing several books on popular medicine.
The Guide of Popular Medicine
In 1841, Chernoviz had published a guide to poplar medicine, the so-called Formulário Guia Medico, which won a great popularity among Brazilian population. This book, with one important iconography, presents a wide variety of native plants of Brazil detailing their therapeutic indications.
Medicinal plants of Brazil
Among a total of more than 200 medicinal plants
Psychotria Ipeca (Ipecacuanha), anti-diarrheal, emetic and expectorant
Anacardium occidentale (Cashew) : treatment of diabetes
Jacaranda caroba (Caroba) t: reatment of venereal diseases
Louis Napoleon Chernoviz founder of modern ethnopharmacology
In the nineteenth century, the triumph of scientism century: medicinal plants had lost all credibility among the population science. Herbal medicine was seen as an empirical practice, at best reserved for herbalists and quacks.
The merit of Louis Napoleon Chernoviz was to promote a systematic investigation of the Brazilian traditional medicinal plants.
Thus was founded the groundwork for a new discipline: ethnopharmacology, studying traditional therapeutic practices among populations of Brazil.
Brazil land of Ethnopharmacology
Many botanical work have been published since early nineteenth century, the flora, including Saint-Hilaire author of a Book of Plants in Brazil (1824) and Carl Friedrich von Martius, author of iSystema Materia (1840)
Chernoviz brought as soon as 1841 a systematic study for Brazilian medicinal plants
Then came more recent publications, as Joaquim Monteiro Caminhoá with a Botánica de Elementos Geral e Médica (1877),and Theodor Peckolt with an Historia das plantas e Medicinaes Úteis do Brazil (1884)
Current perspectives of development of ethnopharmacology in Brazil
We cannot underestimate the complexity of any therapeutic use of herbal vernacular pharmacopoeia : a first step in the laboratory evaluates therapeutic potentials then comes isolation of active principles then a complex strategy of industrial development and pharmaceutical marketing
However the WHO has taken a clear position in favor of ethno-pharmacological research: In April 2009 the Division of Traditional Medicine has recognized the therapeutic value of traditional medicines in South America and the principle recommended evaluated based on pharmacological tests.
But much remains to be done!
The flora of America, from its unique biodiversity, has a high potential for future pharmacological researches
The great merit of Louis Napoleon Chernoviz remains to have been first to understand it
Cooperation between France and Brazil in this area is more imperative than ever
André J. Fabre
Date de dernière mise à jour : 28/07/2013