The concept of growing crops for health rather than for food or fiber is slowly changing plant biotechnology and medicine. Rediscovery of the connection between plants and health is responsible for launching a new generation of botanical therapeutics that include plant-derived pharmaceuticals, multicomponent botanical drugs, dietary supplements, functional foods and plant-produced recombinant proteins. Many of these products will soon complement conventional pharmaceuticals in the treatment, prevention and diagnosis of diseases, while at the same time adding value to agriculture. Such complementation can be accelerated by developing better tools for the efficient exploration of diverse and mutually interacting arrays of phytochemicals and for the manipulation of the plant's ability to synthesize natural products and complex proteins. This review discusses the history, future, scientific background and regulatory issues related to botanical therapeutics.
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