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Biol Pharm Bull. 2014;37(3):454-60.

Evaluation of the botanical origin of black cohosh products by genetic and chemical analyses.

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Division of Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry and Narcotics, National Institute of Health Sciences.


Despite the increasing sales of black cohosh (the dried rhizome and root of Cimicifuga racemosa L.) in the world herbal market, these products have continuous adulteration issues. The botanical authenticity of the black cohosh products is the first important step for ensuring their quality, safety and efficacy. In this study, we genetically identified the botanical sources of 10 black cohosh products and 5 Cimicifuga Rhizome crude drugs of Japanese Pharmacopoeia grade, and analyzed the metabolic profiling of 25 black cohosh products using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Consequently, we found that C. dahurica and possibly C. foetida are misused as sources of the black cohosh products and in some cases, the extracts of black cohosh were adulterated with the plant materials of C. dahurica. We demonstrated that these three species can be distinguished by three marker compounds in a specific mass range. These results must be helpful in establishing regulations for the safe use of the black cohosh products.

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