AHP releases monograph for 'one of the most widely adulterated herbs on the market'

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: American ginseng, Ginseng

AHP releases monograph for 'one of the most widely adulterated herbs on the market'
A monograph for American Ginseng – claimed to be one of the most widely adulterated herbs on the market - has been released by the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP).

The new monograph standards and therapeutic compendium for American Ginseng Root (Panax quinquefolius L.) would help firms identify the genuine article, said AHP executive director Roy Upton: “Suppliers should know if the price is too good to be true it probably is not good material.”

He added: “American Ginsengis one of the most widely adulterated herbs available on the Western herb market. We have found leaf material marketed as root, exhausted marc being sold as crude root, and materials cut with 45% dicalcium phosphate.

“The monograph provides all the characterizations that any quality control team requires for making an authentic and quality product.”

Authenticity, purity, and quality control

The monograph establishes standards for assuring authenticity, purity, and quality control of American Ginseng, addressing its historical use along with multiple methods of analysis including physical and chemical tests. It also provides detailed photographs and images with which to develop internal company identification specifications.

Accompanying the standards is the AHP Therapeutic Compendium, which reviews pharmacological and safety data, including information on pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, actions, medical indications, historical and modern and traditional use, structure and function claims, dosages, interactions, side effects, contraindications and toxicology.

Siberian ginseng confusion …

In his article ‘A Brief History of Adulteration of Herbs, Spices, and Botanical Drugs’​, ​published in the latest issue of Herbalgram (The Journal of the American Botanical Council), Steven Foster notes that ginseng has been surrounded by "confusion and controversy​" in the trade for some years.

For example, a Chinese herb with a woody root known as Eleutherococcus senticosus​ (syn. Acanthopanax senticosus, Araliaceae​) entered the industry in the 1960s, which marketers tried to associate with higher-priced relations in the genus Panax (such as Asian ginseng [P. ginseng​] and American ginseng [P. quinquefolius​]), he notes.

This, he says, “was widely sold as ‘Siberian ginseng’ prompting confusion and controversy in the herb trade for more than 30 years​”.

In the US, however, the issue was finally resolved in 2002 via a provision in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act that banned the use of the name ‘ginseng’ on commercial herb products except those containing members of the genus Panax, says Foster.

“Therefore, on May 13, 2002, use of the term ‘Siberian ginseng’ in reference to E. senticosus in US commerce was banned.”

… and wild red American ginseng fraud

Separately, a product labeled ‘wild red American ginseng’ in the late 1970s was exposed as fraudulent, he adds.

While it was grown in the US, he said, “the plant—by any stretch of defining plant materials—was not remotely related in any respect to (1) use of the common name “ginseng;” (2) the genus Panax; (3) the ginseng family; (4) ginseng’s chemistry; or (5) ginseng’s expected adaptogenic or traditional effects.”

It was in fact canaigre (Rumex hymenosepalus​), a member of the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae​), he said.

California-based AHP began developing monographs on botanicals in the mid-1990s. These are designed to serve as a reference for academics, health care providers, manufacturers, and regulators.

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