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St. John's Wort versus Counterfeit St. John's Wort: An HPTLC Study

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Hypericum perforatum L. is the most commonly used herb for treating depression. Due to the popularity of this botanical, there is a potential for economically driven adulteration of St. John's wort (SJW) products. The goal of this study was to investigate SJW ingredients suspected to be adulterated based on simple preliminary HPTLC tests. Commercial samples were analyzed by HPTLC following the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) monograph methodology, with additional visualization under white light. A number of these samples presented odd methanolic solution colors and unconventional HPTLC fingerprints, suggesting the presence of other species and/or extraneous polar additives. To achieve identification and separation of the polar additives, a new reversed-phase HPTLC method was developed. The adulterants were identified as synthetic dyes in the amounts of 0.51 to 1.36% by weight. Identities of the dyes were confirmed by scanning densitometry and HPTLC-MS. A modified USP method with additional detection mode permitted the identification of eight SJW samples adulterated with dyes and six others with flavonoid fingerprints different from those specified by USP from a total of 37 samples of dry extracts, finished products, and bulk raw herb. A decision flowchart is proposed to guide the detection of adulteration of SJW in a systematic fashion.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: CAMAG, Sonnenmattstrasse 11, 4132 Muttenz, Switzerland 2: Alkemist Laboratories, Botanical Identity, 1260 Logan Ave B2, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA 3: American Herbal Products Association, 8630 Fenton St, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA 4: U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, 12601 Twinbrook Pkwy, Rockville, MD 20852, USA 5: Arizona Nutritional Supplements, 210 S. Beck Ave, Chandler, AZ 85226, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2016

This article was made available online on June 23, 2016 as a Fast Track article with title: "St. John’s Wort versus Counterfeit St. John’s Wort: An HPTLC Study".

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  • The Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL publishes refereed papers and reviews in the fields of chemical, biological and toxicological analytical chemistry for the purpose of showcasing the most precise, accurate and sensitive methods for analysis of foods, food additives, supplements and contaminants, cosmetics, drugs, toxins, hazardous substances, pesticides, feeds, fertilizers and the environment available at that point in time. The scope of the Journal includes unpublished original research describing new analytical methods, techniques and applications; improved approaches to sampling, both in the field and the laboratory; better methods of preparing samples for analysis; collaborative studies substantiating the performance of a given method; statistical techniques for evaluating data. The Journal will also publish other articles of general interest to its audience, e.g., technical communications; cautionary notes; comments on techniques, apparatus, and reagents.
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