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Phytochem Anal. 2011 Mar-Apr;22(2):172-80. doi: 10.1002/pca.1264. Epub 2010 Sep 16.

Phenolic composition and antioxidant properties of some traditionally used medicinal plants affected by the extraction time and hydrolysis.

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Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology, University of Zagreb, Pierottijeva 6, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia.



Polyphenolic phytochemicals in traditionally used medicinal plants act as powerful antioxidants, which aroused an increasing interest in their application in functional food development.


The effect of extraction time (5 and 15 min) and hydrolysis on the qualitative and quantitative content of phenolic compounds and antioxidant capacity of six traditionally used medicinal plants (Melissa officinalis L., Thymus serpyllum L., Lavandula officinalis Miller, Rubus fruticosus L., Urtica dioica L., and Olea europea L.) were investigated.


The content of total phenols, flavonoids, flavan-3-ols and tannins was determined using UV/Vis spectrophotometric methods, while individual phenolic acids, flavones and flavonols were separated and detected using HPLC analysis. Also, to obtain relevant data on the antioxidant capacity, two different assays, (2,2-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) (ABTS) radical scavenging and ferric reducing/antioxidant power (FRAP) assays were used.


The extraction efficiency of phenolics, as well as the antioxidant capacity of plant extracts, was affected by both prolonged extraction and hydrolysis. The overall highest content of phenolic compounds was determined in hydrolyzed extract of blackberry leaves (2160 mg GAE/L), followed by the non-hydrolyzed extract of lemon balm obtained after 15 min of extraction (929.33 mg GAE/L). The above extracts also exhibited the highest antioxidant capacity, while extracts of olive leaves were characterized with the lowest content of phenolic compounds, as well as the lowest antioxidant capacity. The highest content of rosmarinic acid, as the most abundant phenolic compound, was determined in non-hydrolyzed extract of lemon balm, obtained after 15 min of extraction. Although the hydrolysis provided the highest content of polyphenolic compounds, longer extraction time (15 min) was more efficient to extract these bioactives than shorter extraction duration (5 min).


The distribution of detected phenolic compounds showed a wide variability with regard to their botanical origin. Examined medicinal plants showed to be a valuable supplement to a daily intake of bioactive compounds.

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