The Society for Phytotherapy: Scientific profile in seven theses
The Society for Phytotherapy (GPT) is a scientific society whose main task is the promotion of scientific work in the field of phytotherapy. This, in particular, involves supporting young academics, setting scientific standards for the research of phytotherapeutics, and developing new active substances and therapeutic indications. This includes the support of joint projects. Scientific activities also entail the international exchange of experiences with professional societies from other countries that also promote the scientific research of phytotherapeutics in their regions. In this context, the term phytotherapy means the therapeutic use of herbal medicinal products within the framework of evidence-based medicine.
The GPT's understanding of the meaning of evidence-based medicine is based on Sackett (Sackett 1996). The best data that can be obtained from systematic clinical studies is combined with the individual expertise of experienced therapists and pharmacists for an individually tailored, total therapy for the patient in accordance with recognized medical ethical principles such as those formulated by Beauchamps and Childress: patient autonomy, non-maleficence, intention to help, therapeutic justice (Beauchamps & Childress 2012).
According to the GPT, one of unique aspects of the scientific work with phytopharmaceuticals is that, on the one hand, some of the active substances are assigned to academic medicinal use whereas other active substances fall under complementary medicine. In this context, the term complementary medicine refers to the methodological spectrum of evidence-based medicine that is ethically used but exists outside of academic medicine. Based on the EU marketing authorization laws, which have a lot of latitude, this corresponds to the status of fully approved phytopharmaceuticals or registered traditional herbal medicinal products.
For the GPT, phytotherapy research fields include the following, in particular:
- medicinal plants, including growing conditions, species-varieties, and their optimization
- fundamental research on the topic of phytotherapy
- aspects of manufacturing technology
- analytical testing of the constituents of active substances
- pharmacological effects of the active substance as a whole and its individual parts as well as the how they interact
- specifics of the pharmaceutical development of medicinal products from active botanical substances
- aspects of their clinical efficacy
- questions on application safety from pre-clinical-toxicological models to practical experience under real conditions
- all aspects of the actual use of herbal medicinal products
(health services research)
- examination of the profile of traditional use (especially for approved herbal medicinal products), including precise documentation of the modalities of everyday use.
Next to the methods of classical efficacy research, the health services research method (incl. pharmacoepidemiology) is of particular importance. Only the health services research method is able to examine the aspects associated with patient autonomy in real-life therapeutic situations or the relevance of results, e.g., review of randomized double-blind studies, for everyday use.
In additional to these questions, which mainly concentrate on individual active substances, questions about a patient's distinctive perception of herbal medicinal products and about semi-specific effects, i.e., related to the active substance group, are relevant for the GPT. In this context, it is important as to whether the herbal character of these medicinal products has an effect on the success of the individually chosen, i.e. personalized, total therapeutic strategy or contributes in a special way to successful health education in terms of necessary lifestyle changes.
GPT's understanding of "scientific research in the field of phytotherapy" includes not only the classical pharmaceutical and medical questions but also the sociological perception.
In addition to the intended purpose of gaining knowledge, this research also has the important goal of promoting a rational discussion of the question: How can the use of phytotherapy be optimized for the benefit of patients who use phytotherapy as part of an overall, personalized, therapeutic strategy.
- Beauchamp TL, Childress JF: Principles of Biomedical Ethics. 7. Aufl., 2012, Oxford University Press.
- Sackett D: Evidence-based medicine: What it is and what it isn't. BMJ 1996: 312, 71-72.
Münster in Westphalia 2013
German version as .pdf