What is Pharmacology and the History of it?


At least, everyone has been on medication for various reasons, key among them being health-related issues.

But before taking any of those drugs, there is a laid down procedure that you must follow carefully to minimize chances of overdosing or under dosing yourself.

The procedure is mainly based on the nature of medication and the prescription from a clinical officer or a doctor with the aim of treating a particular disease as well as common ailments.

All these steps did not come by chance but were researched and regulated in order to give you a proper guideline and quantities necessary for various kinds of diseases.

This is possible, thanks to pharmacology which makes sure that every medication you receive is helpful to you and that it does not harm you in any way.

In this article, you will learn what the term pharmacology means and of course, the general history of it.

What is Pharmacology?

Pharmacology is the study of how drugs work in your body.

The term explains in details how drugs interact with a number of molecules within your body and how they affect your body as well.

Pharmacology as a discipline is divided into two major categories: pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.

The two categories are responsible for ensuring the safety and action of medication for the sake of your well-being.


Pharmacokinetics is the scientific study of how drugs are absorbed, distributed, metabolized in our bodies and then excreted.

The main concept here is that of drug clearance or elimination of all drugs from your body.

On the other hand, clinical pharmacokinetics entails the effective therapeutic management of medication in your body with the primary goal of enhancing efficacy and reduction of toxicity of your drug therapy.

Pharmacokinetics of each type of drug depends on the two factors; the patient and the drug’s chemical composition and properties.

Other factors among patients such as renal function, genetic, age among others are the best ways to make predictions on the pharmacokinetic observations for a given population.


Pharmacodynamics is defined as the relationship between the concentration of drugs at the site of action and the effects that those drugs cause based on the time course and the therapeutic intensity.

Mostly, pharmacodynamics involves receptor binding as well as post-receptor effects and the chemical interactions in general.

What is the importance of pharmacology?

Without pharmacology, we would never have discovered new medicines to control deadly diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, and various infections.

Essentially, pharmacology is responsible for improving the effects and decreasing the undesirable side effects of some medicines.

It also helps in making us understand how each person responds differently to certain drugs and why other medications lead to addiction.

History of Pharmacology

Early History of Pharmacology

In the 1st century, a Greek physician, Pedanius Dioscorides, authored De materia medica which encompassed several botanical names and how herbs and other plants could be extracted for medicinal purposes.

As a result, his work became one of the pioneers of pharmacological texts for about 1600 years.

During the medieval times, apothecaries prepared all kinds of strange concoctions that were effective in treating a number of diseases at the time.

Unfortunately, most of their work was not so successful but they prepared drugs and also prescribed them for their patients. This was one step into pharmacology at the dawn of history.

However, at the onset of 1800, some apothecaries lost interest in treating patients but devoted their time and efforts in preparation of medical compounds.

Towards the end of the century, scientists from various disciplines were successful in isolating, purifying and standardizing drugs such as morphine.

On top of that, they conducted experiments on a number of animals to find how drugs would react with the human body when taken in certain quantities.

As such, there was no breakthrough until Oswald Schmiedeberg came on board with new ideas that would entirely transform pharmacology to date.

Oswald went ahead to take studies of numerous compounds which included chloroform and then published a report titled “Outline of Pharmacology” highlighting what he had discovered in the course of his studies.

He went ahead to train many of the world-renowned pharmacologists including John Jacob Abel, an American and the first chair of Pharmacology in one of the American universities.

Schmiedeberg is always remembered as the father of pharmacology

The modern history of pharmacology

Between 20th and 21st century, the field of Pharmacology grew rapidly and there was a tremendous improvement compared to other centuries.

With advancement in pharmacology, many drugs were developed ranging from the antibiotics to hormonal compounds such as insulin and many others.

Many experiments were carried out on a number of drugs to establish their effectiveness in fighting diseases and how they affected humans when taken to treat certain conditions.

During the second world war, research in pharmacology intensified with German leading the way and the United States taking over at the advanced stages of the war and thereafter.

The demand for drugs to treat wounded soldiers and civilians was on the increase.

That reason prompted extensive research in pharmacology in a bid to produce more drugs that were effective to meet the prevailing demand and save many lives.

Even after the war, pharmacology got more attention and the discipline would find its way in schools and a number of pharmaceutical companies.

In fact, pharmacology has become a lucrative business with various pharmaceutical companies reaping the great benefits while delivering drugs to an ever increasing population across the globe.

Some of the drugs that are commonly prescribed are over the counter pain relievers, chronic diseases medications, anesthetics and many more.

If it were not for advancement in pharmacology, many lives would be at stake now and our life expectancy would have been the lowest ever.


The medical field would not be the same if pharmacology was not there.

As a matter of fact, the science behind pharmacology has laid a firm foundation in the medical field such that the two terms coexist as a single entity. Pharmacology is a gift to all mankind.

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