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Announcing a new publication: PHYTOMEDICINE; An International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology.
The use of phytopreparations in therapy and in self medication has increased so rapidly in the last decade that it is challenging the medicinal curriculum and drug law. In an effort to prove phytotherapy's efficacy, phytochemists, pharmacologists, and clinicians must cooperate closely to search for the active principles of plants, to promote the chemical or biological standardization of phytopreparations, and to investigate the pharmacology and toxicology of plant extracts (or isolated compounds). These studies need to span the range from the laboratory workbench to the clinic. Phytopharmacology deals primarily with dosages, with how drug combinations modulate pharmacological parameters, with efficacy, and with mechanisms of action. Thus, themes of research in this area will range from using enzyme, cell, or receptor targets as a new means of screening plants for drug development to the efficacy, toxicology and proof of safety of plant drug preparations.

The new journal is intended not only as an outlet for findings in phytopharmacology, phytotherapy, and phytotoxicology, but also to provide guidelines for researchers interested in these fields and to set international standards for methododology in phytotherapy and phytopharmacology.

PHYTOMEDICINE publishes results of research on phytotherapy, phytopharmacology, and phytotoxicology obtained with plant extracts as well as isolated compounds from these extracts. The subject of the investigations may be from single plants or combinations of extracts derived from terrestrial plants in the following taxa (groups): angiosperms, gymnosperms, pteridophytes, lichens, and basidiomycetes. Data from screening extracts from the aforementioned classes of plants will be accepted, as well as structure-activity studies on isolated compounds of known structure. Timely, critical reviews on plants and their constituents that are of current and future pharmacological or phytotherapeutic interest will be solicited by invitation from prominent authorities in the field. Chemical compounds of known structure that have been pharmacologically or biochemically studied will also be considered for publication.

Based on currently available publications, it is evident that interest in phytotherapy and phytopharmacology is expanding at a geometric rate. There is every indication that this will continue and even accelerate. On the other hand, there is a lack of high quality pharmacological and clinical studies on phytopreparations since methods for standardization of plant extracts were lacking for a long time. Now, however, excellent analytical methods have become available to analyze extracts for their active principles and to guarantee the quality of a drug or drug preparation. This means that better reproducibility of pharmacological and clinical results can be expected.

This journal aims to help set an international standard for pharmacological studies and proof of clinical efficacy. It will accept only the highest quality papers. A major difference between this journal and others publishing similar subject matter will be that nothing will be accepted without botanical verification of plants studied, i.e., a statement of the existence of a voucher specimen that has been authenticated by an authoritative botanist. Phytotherapy and phytopharmacology papers will need to present evidence of chemical quality control for the extracts tested. That is to say, when one or more biologically active substances are known to be present in the plant, suitable methods will have to be used to identify and quantitate the amount of these substances in the extract tested. In cases where no active principle is known, data will have to be presented illustrating a "fingerprint" of the extract being studied. Modern methods of high performance liquid chromatography, g as-liquid chromatography (alone or in combination with mass spectrometry), radioimmunoassays, etc., can be used to fulfill this requirement. Manuscripts concerning the screening of plants for pharmacological activity in which the active principles are unknown will not need chemical standardization data, but will have to contain full botanical verification data on the plants studied.

To be published in this journal, clinical investigations using phytomedicines must be performed and interpreted with the same stringent criteria applied to those carried out with synthetic drugs.

The editors firmly believe that many useful phytopharmaceuticals have been discarded in the past because of the failure to carry out adequate quality control and standardization procedures, since one batch of plant material could contain appreciable quantities of active principle(s) while subsequent batches could contain lower ones. Such lapses frustrated clinicians by varying clinical responses to these non-standardized phytopharmaceuticals.

Although PHYTOMEDICINE will be targeted toward papers of a practical nature, we envision many contributions to basic science and methodology. In this respect, we feel that the papers published in this journal will be useful to drug regulatory authorities in deciding whether or not to approve some phytomedicines. We have delineated stringent rules and guidelines that must be followed for a manuscript to be acceptable for publication. We feel strongly that results of studies that adhere to these guidelines will be much more meaningful and reproducible by others.

PHYTOMEDICINE will contain the following sections:

1. Reviews - Each issue will contain a major review article on a single plant or plant-derived secondary metabolite of known structure for which significant clinical and basic pharmacology studies are available. These reviews will generally be by invitation.

2. Clinical Studies - Manuscripts reporting on studies of plant extracts tested in humans will be accepted for review. But only studies that are designed and evaluated according to currently acceptable scientific standards will be accepted. Other criteria for acceptance will appear in the "Instructions to Authors." Studies involving single plant preparations as well as multicomponent preparations will be accepted, within the stated criteria and guidelines.

3. Pharmacological and Biochemical Studies - Studies reporting on the pharmacology (in vivo), toxicology and/or biochemistry (in vitro) of plant extracts will be accepted for review. Again, very strict adherence to acceptance criteria delineated in the "Instructions to Authors" will be followed.

4. Screening Studies - Screening of plant extracts for any biological activity will be accepted with both positive and negative data being included. Again, strict adherence to guidelines will be mandated.

5. Screening Methodology Studies - Papers will be accepted for review that describe biological screening of plant extracts in which one or more plants are used as models.

6. Case Reports - Results of human studies using defined phytomedicinal products over a short span of time will be considered for publication depending on the novelty of the results.

7. Letters to the Editors - Brief notes or letters on any subject pertinent to phytomedicine, phytopharmacolog,y or natural products drug development will be considered for publication.

8. Chemistry - Papers reporting on the isolation of known or novel secondary metabolites from plants will be accepted only if the compounds are isolated following bioassay-directed fractionation and only if they detail the biological activity of the isolated constituents. Details of structure elucidation of novel compounds should be published elsewhere with an appropriate reference to this work.

9. Structure-Activity Studies - Papers reporting on the structure-activity relationship of plant-derived compounds of known structure will be accepted for review.

10. Editorials - Each issue will contain a brief editorial, either by one of the editors or by invitation. Such editorials will be directed to important aspects of the fields of phytotherapy, phytopharmacology, or to other matters related to natural product drug development.

The scope of coverage for PHYTOMEDICINE will be restricted to studies of plants classified as angiosperms, gymnosperms, pteridophytes, bryophytes, lichens, and basidiomycetes. Studies on the phytotherapy and/or phytopharmacology of chemical constituents will be restricted to those substances derived from the aforementioned groups of plants.

PHYTOMEDICINE will be published quarterly starting in 1994. Manuscripts will be received only in the English language. Subscriptions are ciara.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.