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J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2019 Aug 23;176:112834. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2019.112834. [Epub ahead of print]

Toxicological screening and DNA sequencing detects contamination and adulteration in regulated herbal medicines and supplements for diet, weight loss and cardiovascular health.

Author information

1
Medical, Molecular and Forensic Sciences, Murdoch University, South St, Murdoch, WA, 6150, Australia; Separation Science and Metabolomics Laboratory and the Advanced Mass Spectrometry Facility, Murdoch University, 90 South St, Murdoch, WA, 6150, Australia.
2
Trace and Environmental DNA laboratory, Department of Environment and Agriculture, Curtin University, Bentley, WA, 6102, Australia.
3
Adelaide Medical School, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, 5005, Australia.
4
Forensic Science SA, Adelaide, SA, 5000, Australia.
5
Separation Science and Metabolomics Laboratory and the Advanced Mass Spectrometry Facility, Murdoch University, 90 South St, Murdoch, WA, 6150, Australia.
6
Adelaide Medical School, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, 5005, Australia; Forensic Science SA, Adelaide, SA, 5000, Australia.
7
Medical, Molecular and Forensic Sciences, Murdoch University, South St, Murdoch, WA, 6150, Australia.
8
Medical, Molecular and Forensic Sciences, Murdoch University, South St, Murdoch, WA, 6150, Australia; Separation Science and Metabolomics Laboratory and the Advanced Mass Spectrometry Facility, Murdoch University, 90 South St, Murdoch, WA, 6150, Australia. Electronic address: g.maker@murdoch.edu.au.

Abstract

Use of herbal medicines and supplements by consumers to prevent or treat disease, particularly chronic conditions continues to grow, leading to increased awareness of the minimal regulation standards in many countries. Fraudulent, adulterated and contaminated herbal and traditional medicines and dietary supplements are a risk to consumer health, with adverse effects and events including overdose, drug-herb interactions and hospitalisation. The scope of the risk has been difficult to determine, prompting calls for new approaches, such as the combination of DNA metabarcoding and mass spectrometry used in this study. Here we show that nearly 50% of products tested had contamination issues, in terms of DNA, chemical composition or both. Two samples were clear cases of pharmaceutical adulteration, including a combination of paracetamol and chlorpheniramine in one product and trace amounts of buclizine, a drug no longer in use in Australia, in another. Other issues include the undeclared presence of stimulants such as caffeine, synephrine or ephedrine. DNA data highlighted potential allergy concerns (nuts, wheat), presence of potential toxins (Neem oil) and animal ingredients (reindeer, frog, shrew), and possible substitution of bird cartilage in place of shark. Only 21% of the tested products were able to have at least one ingredient corroborated by DNA sequencing. This study demonstrates that, despite current monitoring approaches, contaminated and adulterated products are still reaching the consumer. We suggest that a better solution is stronger pre-market evaluation, using techniques such as that outlined in this study.

KEYWORDS:

Adulteration; Complementary and alternative medicine; Contamination; DNA metabarcoding; Diet supplements; Herbal medicine; Mass spectrometry; Next generation DNA sequencing; Pharmacovigilance; Toxicology

PMID:
31472365
DOI:
10.1016/j.jpba.2019.112834

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