Direct metabolic fingerprinting of commercial herbal tinctures by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry

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Politi, M, Zloh, M, Pintado, ME, Castro, PML, Heinrich, M & Prieto, JM 2009, 'Direct metabolic fingerprinting of commercial herbal tinctures by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry', Phytochemical Analysis, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 328-334.

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Introduction - Tinctures are widely used liquid pharmaceutical preparations traditionally obtained by maceration of one or more medicinal plants in ethanol-water solutions. Such a process results in the extraction of virtually hundreds of structurally diverse compounds with different polarities. Owing to the large chemical diversity of the constituents present in the herbal tinctures, the analytical tools used for the quality control of tinctures are usually optimised only for the detection of single chemical entities or specific class of compounds.

Objective - In order to overcome the major limitations of the current methods used for analysis of tinctures, a new methodological approach based on NMR spectroscopy and MS spectrometry has been tested with different commercial tinctures.

Methodology - Diffusion-edited 1H-NMR (1D DOSY) and 1H-NMR with suppression of the ethanol and water signals have been applied here for the first time to the direct analysis of commercial herbal tinctures derived from Echinacea purpurea, Hypericum perforatum, Ginkgo biloba and Valeriana officinalis. The direct injection of the tinctures in the MS detector in order to obtain the corresponding metabolic profiles was also performed.

Results - Using both NMR and MS methods it was possible, without evaporation or separation steps, to obtain a metabolic fingerprint able to distinguish between tinctures prepared with different plants. Batch-to-batch homogeneity, as well as degradation after the expiry date of a batch, was also investigated.

Conclusion - The techniques proposed here represent fast and convenient direct analyses of medicinal herbal tinctures.

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