As well as restoring, correcting, or modifying organic functions, pharmaceuticals are used to diagnose, treat, and prevent disease. Records of medicinal plants and minerals date to ancient Chinese, Hindu, and Mediterranean civilizations. Ancient Greek physicians used a variety of drugs in their profession. In 1546 the first pharmacopeia appeared in Germany.
Other substances isolated in the 19th century included strychnine, quinine, nicotine and phenol.
Pharmaceuticals are classified by chemical group, by the way, they work in the body (pharmacological effect), and by therapeutic use. Alkaloids were the first pure pharmaceuticals derived from natural substances (plants). They include quinine, nicotine, cocaine, atropine, and morphine. Drugs of animal origin include glandular extracts containing hormones.
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Antibiotics, vaccines, human blood-plasma fractions, and steroid hormones are other important pharmaceuticals manufactured from natural substances. Vitamins, which were formerly obtained from natural sources, are now often made in the laboratory. They are used in the production of vitamins.
Ointments are one of many semisolid preparations, which also include creams, pastes, and jellies. Solid pharmaceuticals include pills, tablets, lozenges, and suppositories.