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      Recent advances in the compound-oriented and pattern-oriented approaches to the quality control of herbal medicines

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          The current approaches to the quality control of herbal medicines are either compound-oriented or pattern-oriented, the former targeting specific components with some known chemical properties and the latter targeting all detectable components. The marker approach uses specific chemical compounds with known molecular structures, while the multi-compound approach uses both chemical compounds with known structures and those with partial chemical information e.g. retention times, mass spectra and ultraviolet spectra. Apart from chromatographic techniques, new techniques such as oscillating and electrochemistry fingerprints have been developed for quality control. Chemometric resolution methods are widely used for component deconvolution and data comparison. Pattern recognition techniques are used for authentication of herbal medicines.

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          Chromatographic fingerprint analysis--a rational approach for quality assessment of traditional Chinese herbal medicine.

          Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine (TCHM) contain multiple botanicals, each of which contains many compounds that may be relevant to the medicine's putative activity. Therefore, analytical techniques that look at a suite of compounds, including their respective ratios, provide a more rational approach to the authentication and quality assessment of TCHM. In this paper we present several examples of applying chromatographic fingerprint analysis for determining the identity, stability, and consistency of TCHM as well as the identification of adulterants as follows: (1) species authentication of various species of ginseng (Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolium, Panax noto-ginseng) and stability of ginseng preparations using high performance thin-layer chromatography (HPTLC) fingerprint analysis; (2) batch-to-batch consistency of extracts of Total Glycosides of Peony (TGP), to be used as a raw material and in finished products (TGP powdered extract products), using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) fingerprint analysis with a pattern recognition software interface (CASE); (3) documenting the representative HPLC fingerprints of Immature Fruits of Terminalia chebula (IFTC) through the assessment of raw material, in-process assay of the extracts, and the analysis of the finished product (tablets); (4) HPLC fingerprint study demonstrating the consistent quality of total flavonoids of commercial extracts of ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) leaves (EGb) along with detection of adulterations. The experimental conditions as well as general comments on the application of chromatographic fingerprint analysis are discussed.
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            A metabonomic strategy for the detection of the metabolic effects of chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.) ingestion.

            A metabonomic strategy, utilizing high-resolution 1H NMR spectroscopy in conjunction with chemometric methods (discriminant analysis with orthogonal signal correction), has been applied to the study of human biological responses to chamomile tea ingestion. Daily urine samples were collected from volunteers during a 6-week period incorporating a 2-week baseline period, 2 weeks of daily chamomile tea ingestion, and a 2-week post-treatment phase. Although strong intersubject variation in metabolite profiles was observed, clear differentiation between the samples obtained before and after chamomile ingestion was achieved on the basis of increased urinary excretion of hippurate and glycine with depleted creatinine concentration. Samples obtained up to 2 weeks after daily chamomile intake formed an isolated cluster in the discriminant analysis map, from which it was inferred that the metabolic effects of chamomile ingestion were prolonged during the 2-week postdosing period. This study highlights the potential for metabonomic technology in the assessment of nutritional interventions, despite the high degree of variation from genetic and environmental sources.
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              Analysis of phenolic compounds in rhubarbs using liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry.

              Rhubarb is an important herbal medicine for the treatment of constipation, inflammation, and cancer. In this study, a facile method based on liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry has been established for the analysis of bioactive phenolic compounds in rhubarbs. From six rhubarb species, official (Rheum officinale, R. palmatum, and R. tanguticum) and unofficial (R. franzenbachii, R. hotaoense, and R. emodi), a total of 107 phenolic compounds were identified or tentatively characterized based on their mass spectra. These compounds include sennosides, anthraquinones, stilbenes, glucose gallates, naphthalenes, and catechins. Ion chromatograms for the identified compounds of different rhubarbs were then compared. Consistent with previous reports, sennosides and rhein were only detected in official rhubarbs. Unexpectedly, we found that R. officinale contained very different phenolic compounds from the other two official species. Sennoside A, which has been considered as the major purgative component of rhubarb, was only detected in R. officinale, while its close isomers were observed in R. palmatum and R. tanguticum. In addition, the predominant anthraquinone glycosides in R. officinale were found to be rhein 8-O-glucoside and emodin 1-O-glucoside, whereas those in R. palmatum and R. tanguticum were rhein 1-O-glucoside and emodin 8-O-glucoside. Stilbenes, which are the major constituents of unofficial rhubarbs, were also different among the species. Our results clarify the chemical composition of rhubarbs comprehensively for the first time. Due to the significant differences in chemical components of rhubarbs, we suggest that different Rheum species be used separately in clinical practice.

                Author and article information

                [1 ]Chemometrics and Herbal Medicine Laboratory, Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong SAR, PR China
                [2 ]Research Centre of Modernization of Chinese Medicine, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Central South University, Changsha 410083, PR China
                [3 ]State Key Laboratory of Chinese Medicine and Molecular Pharmacology, Shenzhen 518057, PR China
                Chin Med
                Chinese Medicine
                BioMed Central
                4 August 2008
                : 3
                : 9
                Copyright © 2008 Zeng et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


                Complementary & Alternative medicine


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