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J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2012 Dec;71:11-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2012.07.015. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

Evaluation of metal concentrations in mentha herbal teas (Mentha piperita, Mentha pulegium and Mentha species) by inductively coupled plasma spectrometry.

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  • 1Department of Toxicology, University of La Laguna, 38071 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain.


Phytopharmaceuticals are gaining popularity worldwide; however, cases of adverse effects and drug interactions have also increased. One reason is in the high metal content both as ingredients but also as contaminants. Metal monitoring in food, like herbal teas, provides basic information on safety aspects in regulatory processes as well as nutritional values. In the present work, Cd, Pb, K, Na, Ca, Mg, Al, B, Ba, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Zn, Li, Ni, and Mo were determined by inductively coupled plasma spectrometry (ICPS) in 36 samples of Mentha sp. Mint tea bags and loose leaves were randomly obtained from supermarkets, traditional markets, herbal stores, and pharmacies in Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain). Metal contents varied significantly, dependent on the stores the products were purchased in and on tea packaging (loose leaves versus tea bags). Pb analyses revealed levels (0.65±0.71mg/kg) below legal limits. The maximum permissible limit for Cd, 0.3mg/kg, set by the WHO for medicinal plants, was exceeded by 19.44% of the samples (0.22±0.13mg/kg), but all values were below the limit given in the European Pharmacopoeia for this metal (4mg/kg). We observed high Al (151.24±162.73mg/kg) and Li (5.46±3.94mg/kg) levels. B, Ba, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Zn, and Mo mean levels were 20.51, 14.15, 0.26, 1.65, 10.65, 406.00, 55.05, 1.72, 33.67, and 0.73mg/kg, respectively. Mean Ca, Mg, K, and Na were detected in concentrations of 10.32, 3.83, 7.23 and 1.17g/kg, respectively. In conclusion, metal exposure through herbal mint teas does not seem to be of health concern, as to most of the studied metals, but regulatory limits for Al contents should be imposed.

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