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Quality control of herbal raw material in the manufacture of herbal teas

    Almost any plant is a storehouse of the whole complex of nutrients. Inadequate quality control of raw materials and finished products in the manufacture of dietary additives leads to the fact that a significant number of products of questionable quality appears at the market. The quality control of our products is carried out in the certified laboratory of LLC "Experimental plant "GNCLS". Development and production of products is carried out in conjunction with the pharmaceutical company "Vertex". Teas produced by our company are a fruit-herb or herbal blend. Each phyto species has preventive orientation reflected in the title. We purchase raw materials not only in our country but in the far and near abroad.

    All the raw materials purchased for the production of tea have certificates, test reports or other documents proving their quality. In the manufacturer's certificate there should be specified the time and place of collection of raw materials, plant vegetation phase, the description of the external signs, quantitative indicators. To confirm the quality of incoming raw materials we carry out the input control of herbal raw materials. The most important indicator of authenticity and purity of raw materials are the outward signs. The raw material must conform to its name, if the manufacturer’s certificate states that it is a leaf, flowers or fruit, the% of the content of other parts of plants should not exceed 3-5%. To identify the raw materials, we determine specific organoleptic characteristics of each plant. The most important method for determining the authenticity of medicinal plants is a microscopy.

    For example, the sweet flag roots (Acorus calamus radix )(Fig. 1) are characterized by round, oval cells filled with starch.

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The main tissue of the rhizome is aerenchyma, which is loose, with large intercellular spaces (Fig. 1B). Conduction system is of the collateral type (Fig. 1A). In the central cylinder the vascular bundles are concentrated around the endoderm.

    The madder root (Fig. 2) cork consists of several layers of rectangular cells with very thin shells. The outer layers of cork cells flake off. Medullary rays are not expressed. The bark is composed of thin-walled elements, phloem parenchyma cells predominate, located in radial rows (Fig. 2A).

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Wood parenchyma cells are arranged radially, their shells are thick, lignified. The central part of the rhizome is occupied with a core consisting of large oval cells with thickened walls pierced by oval-shaped pores (Fig. 2 Б). In the cells of the core are raphides of calcium oxalate.

    Thus, with the help of microscopy we can determine the diagnostic features of the anatomical structure of plants and confirm or refute the species belonging of a particular plant.

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Quantification of mass fraction of moisture, total ash, as well as the content of organic and mineral impurities in the raw material is provided for each plant. Raw material should not contain parts of other poisonous plants. We also check the raw material for infection storage pests. Additionally we perform determination of quantitative parameters (content of flavonoids, polyphenols, essential oils, hydroxycinnamic acids, tannins).

   According to the content of toxic elements, pesticides and radio nuclides raw materials must comply with the requirements of biomedical and hygienic standards. The test for the content of toxic elements, heavy metals, pesticides, radio nuclides is due to herbal material which is a part of teas. The quality and safety of dietary additives are defined by their conformity to hygienic standards established by the standard documentation (GOST 23338, 26669, 26670).

   Thus, we improve the control of manufactured products, using existing methods for the species included in the SPU, the European Pharmacopoeia; we also develop new methods of quality control for non-pharmacopoeial plants.