Best Practice in Research – ConPhyMP
What is the Best Practice initiative?
Medicinal plant extracts [phyto-pharmaceuticals] are different from their pharmaceutical counterparts in that they are complex mixtures, where the identities and quantities of the active ingredients/marker compounds cannot be fully known. The compositions could also vary depending on the preparation methods and source material used. This creates a unique set of challenges for researchers (1) and impacts on the interpretation of pharmacological, toxicological and clinical studies using plant (or fungal) extracts.
Earlier initiatives provided detailed requirements on the scientific nomenclature of medicinal plants (2) and ethnopharmacological field studies (3). We also provided a perspective on what constitutes best practice in pharmacological research on bioactive preparations derived from natural sources and what the leading specialist journals in the field consider as the core characteristic of good research (4).
An initiative completed in 2022 provides Consensus-based reporting guidelines for Phytochemical Characterisation of Medicinal Plant extracts (ConPhyMP) (5). The focus is on medicinal plant extracts used in pharmacological, toxicological, and clinical/intervention research to ensure reproducibility and accurate interpretations of studies using medicinal plant extracts.
What is the ConPhyMP checklist?
The ConPhyMP is a consensus statement/checklist, which provides guidance for researchers reporting the starting plant materials, and the chemical methods utilised for defining the chemical compositions of the plant extracts used in such studies. The primary audiences for the ConPhyMP statement/checklist are authors in medicinal plants research as well as the peer reviewers and editors assessing such research for publication. Hence, assisting the production of evidence-based guidance of studies utilising medicinal plant extracts. While they are not primarily intended to guide the conduct of studies, familiarity with reporting requirements will be useful for researchers when planning studies.
The ConPhyMP checklist comprises two tables with accompanying explanatory figures. The first table consists of 5 items and provides recommendations for reporting the plant material used in pharmacological, toxicological and clinical research. The second table consists of 5 items and presents recommendations for conducting and reporting the analytical methods for defining the chemical profile based on the type of extracts used in research (e.g., extract types A, B, and C).
- Sticher O. Natural product isolation. Natural Product Reports. 2008;25(3):517-54. doi:10.1039/b700306b
- Rivera D, Allkin R, Obón C, Alcaraz F, Verpoorte R, Heinrich M. What is in a name? The need for accurate scientific nomenclature for plants. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2014;152(3):393-402. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.12.022
- Heinrich M, Lardos A, Leonti M, Weckerle C, Willcox M, Applequist W, et al. Best practice in research: consensus statement on ethnopharmacological field studies–ConSEFS. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2018;211:329-39. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2017.08.015
- Heinrich M, Appendino G, Efferth T, Fürst R, Izzo AA, Kayser O, et al. Best practice in research–Overcoming common challenges in phytopharmacological research. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2020;246:112230. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2019.112230
- Heinrich M, Jalil B, Abdel-Tawab M, Echeverria J, Kulić Ž, McGaw LJ, et al. Best Practice in the chemical characterisation of extracts used in pharmacological and toxicological research-The ConPhyMP-guidelines. Frontiers in Pharmacology.3111. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2022.953205