Carlo Bicchi, Professor of Pharmaceutical Biology, Faculty of Pharmacy – University of Turin

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Prof. Bicchi, you were keynote speaker at the 30th National Congress of Phytotherapy, held in Siena (Italy) in May 2022 and organised by the Italian Society of Phytotherapy (Società Italiana di Fitoterapia, S.I.Fit.). Can you explain the importance of phytotherapy in modern science? What are the main challenges associated with it?
In short, phytotherapy studies the effect(s) of complex mixtures of vegetable origin whose activities are the results of the positive and negative synergism(s), modulation(s) and/or inhibition(s) of compounds with different chemical structures that are present in a plant extract. It is not, as is often and erroneously believed, the discipline studying pure biologically active compounds extracted from plants. This view is also consistent with the historical origins of phytotherapy: the traditional/local medicine was and still is mainly based on the use of native plants submitted to simple extraction treatments such as decoction or infusion, w ...