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How to deal with adulteration of plant extracts?
Apr 22, 2018

1. Consistency and authenticity of plant extracts


In order to reduce the cost of production, the supplier often uses completely different extracts to replace or part in other extracts or raw materials to impersonate the plant extract. Usually, these adulterated extracts are very similar to the customer's intent to purchase the extract, which is very similar to the senses. It is difficult for consumers to identify the true or false products by the naked eye.


Common examples:


In order to improve the tannic acid content, the supplier may even replace the extract of tannic acid, which is mixed with the extract of tannic acid and so on, in order to improve the content of tannic acid.


The total order of asparagus extract is often mixed with Tribulus terrestris and fenugreek extract, because the latter two are cheaper.


The hypnotic Solanum extract is usually imposted by the hypnotic Solanum extract, because the cost of extracting it from the root of the hypnotic Solanum is much higher than that of the whole plant hypnotic Solanum.


The extract of Tribulus terrestris usually mixed with the original diosgenin from fenugreek seeds, because India Tribulus terrestris does not contain the original diosgenin.


Countermeasures: considering the different adsorbability of the active ingredients of the extracts from different sources, it can be identified by the simple and effective thin layer chromatography (TLC). In addition, some extracts can also be identified by pharmacopoeia.


2, synthetic adulterate


In order to reduce the price of the product or to increase the content of a certain active component in the product, some suppliers will add some synthetic components to the extracts they sell, or add other compounds to affect the test results of the content of the active components.


Common examples:


The natural turmeric extract is blended with synthetic curcumin, thus greatly reducing production costs.


The addition of frankincense extract into synthetic resin or citric acid can improve the detection results of organic acids in frankincense.


By adding berberine hydrochloride into the extract of Berberis, the content of berberine increased to 95% or even higher.


The content of the synthetic levodopa in the extract of the extract of quinoa reached 90%, while the content of the natural quinoa extract was not so high in any way.


Countermeasures: suppliers are requested to provide a certificate of "100% natural" or "pure plant origin" printed on their company's head, which may be used as legal evidence. The identification of chemical components and natural components can be identified by C14 isotope method. In addition, the addition of synthetic adulterant to the real extract can also be used to identify whether the purchased products are imported.


3, proportion extract


At present, the proportion extract is the largest misuse name in the plant extract industry. At present, many companies can provide 5:1, 10:1 or even 30:1 ratio extract. The problem with proportional extraction is that it does not indicate the specific content of any active ingredient or chemical marker. At the same time, if the extracts of the same proportion are extracted with different extraction solvents, the active components of the extract will be very different, for example, the ethanol extract of 5:1 and the water extract of 5:1 are two kinds of extracts completely different in composition.


Moreover, it is difficult to detect whether the extraction ratio of the logo is true. In the market, the same extract is also marked into different extraction ratios to sell to two different customers, while higher extraction ratio will also increase. It was obvious that some of them were deceived.


Common examples:


The content of Solanum lactone in India ginseng extract 5:1 should be over 8% theoretically, but in fact its content is only 1.5-2%.


The content of tannic acid in the extract of 4:1 should be more than 45%, but in fact, its content is only 25-30%.


The content of 3- sterol in the extract of 10:1 is not less than 5%, but the content of the product is only 1.5-2%.


The content of saponin in Tribulus terrestris extract 10:1 should be more than 50%, but the content of most suppliers is 40%.


Countermeasures: purchase based on reliable analytical methods (HPLC, UV light photometer, gravimetry, titration, etc.) to detect the extracts of their active components, and non proportionate extracts. The detection methods can be found from Pharmacopoeia, academic journals and industry manuals.


4, active component


In the past two hundred or three hundred years, phytochemistry has developed rapidly. So far, almost all listed plant extracts have been known for their activities. With the development of the international market of plant extracts, it is necessary to formulate more standards for the extract products, to clarify the active components and the accurate quantitative detection methods, which, of course, is also dependent on the use of more advanced detection methods (HPLC, GC, HPTLC, etc.) to identify the active components.


Common examples:


The false purslane extract (50% saponins, gravimetric analysis) is cheaper than the false purslane extract (50% false purslane saponins, HPLC method). The false saponins are obviously lower than the latter, if the former is detected by the method of HPLC.


India ginseng extract (5%) is lower than India ginseng extract (5% HPLC).


HPLC method was applied to extract frankincense (65% organic acids, titration).

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