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

Crighton, E., Coghlan, M.L., Farrington, R., Hoban, C.L., Power, M.W.P., Nash, C., Mullaney, I., Byard, R.W., Trengove, R., Musgrave, I.F., Bunce, M. and Maker, G.ORCID: 0000-0003-1666-9377 (2019) Toxicological screening and DNA sequencing detects contamination and adulteration in regulated herbal medicines and supplements for diet, weight loss and cardiovascular health. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 176 .

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Embargoed until August 2021.

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpba.2019.112834
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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.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: Separation Science and Metabolomics Laboratory
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2019 Elsevier B.V.
United Nations SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/50495
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