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Nat Prod Commun. 2010 Sep;5(9):1431-6.

Volatile fraction of lavender and bitter fennel infusion extracts.

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Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Pharmacognosy, Universitätsplatz 4/1, University of Graz, 8010 Graz, Austria.


The relative proportions of chemical classes (hydrocarbons, oxides, alcohols/ethers, aldehydes/ketones, acids/esters/lactones) in the essential oil of lavender (Lavendula angustifolia Mill., family Lamiaceae) and bitter fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill. subsp. vulgare var. vulgare (Mill.) Thellung, family Apiaceae) and in the volatile fraction of infusion extracts were examined and showed remarkable differences. The volatile compounds of infusions were isolated by hydrodistillation and solid phase extraction (SPE). Their qualitative and semiquantitative compositions were compared with the essential oil isolated by hydrodistillation directly from the plant material and analyzed by GC-MS. Furthermore, quantification of the major constituents of lavender oil and of the volatile fraction obtained by hydrodistillation of the infusion was performed. Comparison of the total essential oil yield quantified by hydrodistillation of the lavender infusion (0.7% v/w, corresponding to plant material) with the essential oil yield of the blossoms (5.1% v/w) revealed that only 13.9% of the initial oil could be extracted by infusion. The main constituents of the volatile fraction of the lavender infusion were (hydrodistillation/SPE): linalool (39.3%/28.2%), 1,8 cineole (24.8%/18.9%), cis-linalool oxide (furanoid) (5.8%/8.0%), trans-linalool oxide (furanoid) (4.1%/7.1%), camphor (5.3%/4.0%) and alpha-terpineol (4.0%/3.0%). The major constituents of lavender essential oil were linalool (28.8%), 1,8-cineole (18.05%), linalyl acetate (13.9%) and alpha-terpineol (4.0%). Most intriguing, in the volatile fraction of lavender infusion a significant proportional decrease of linalyl acetate and an increase of linalool oxides was recognized. The essential oil yield of fennel fruits was 12.5% v/w, whereas 1.8% v/w volatile fraction (corresponding to plant material) was obtained by hydrodistillation of the fennel infusion, which is equivalent to 14.5% of the initial fennel essential oil. The main constituents of the volatile fraction of the fennel infusion were (hydrodistillation/SPE): trans-anethole (56.4%/54.8%), fenchone (36.2%/39.5%) and estragole (2.5%/2.2%), which were also the major compounds of the genuine bitter fennel essential oil. In infusions, the proportion of ethers vs. ketones was shifted significantly towards a higher proportion of the latter compared with the essential oil obtained from the fruits.

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