ABC to detail new grapefruit seed extract adulteration bulletin at Oxford botanicals conference

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/lenzjona
© iStock/lenzjona

Related tags Botanical adulterants program Adulterant

The American Botanical Council’s information on common adulterants has expanded significantly in the past year. This progress will be detailed at a meeting at an upcoming scientific meeting at the University of Mississippi.

ABC founder and executive director Mark Blumenthal will lay out the new publications that have been released and work that is planned for near term publication at the 17th Oxford International Conference on the Science of Botanicals that is being put on by the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR).  The center, which is headed by Ikhlas Khan, PhD, is associated with the university’s pharmacy school. The university is located in Oxford, MS.

Blumenthal said ABC’s Botanical Adulterants Program, which is cosponsored by NCNPR as well as the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, is meant to shed light on common adulterants found in the marketplace.  This is both to highlight the issue as well as to clue in analytical chemists working in the field as to what to look for.  Sometimes the answer to that question can be another, cheaper botanical that has a similar chromatographic profile, sometimes it can be a purified chemical such as an organic acid to give a particular spike on a readout. Or the adulterant can be wholly surprising, such as is the case with grapefruit seed extract, the subject of the latest publication in the series of bulletins published by the program.

All of the eleven published analyses so far on GFSE have shown that at least some of these extracts are adulterated with a synthetic disinfectant,​ Blumenthal told NutraIngredients-USA.

Since last years conference there has been significant growth in our program. After the GFSE bulletin, there will a lab guidance document on GFSE coming out,​ he said.

Sliding target

The news that adulterated GFSE can be found in the marketplace is not new​, Blumenthal said. ABC published an article about it in its HerbalGram​ magazine in 2012. But the nature of the precise adulterants tends to be a moving target and necessitated a new publication on the ingredient in the standard bulletin format. Blumenthal said the new bulletin is set to be made available in the next few days.

The prime benefit of GFSE as a dietary ingredient is its purported antimicrobial properties theoretically conferred by the triterpenes in the product which include limonoids and flavonoids. Blumenthal said there is no record of use of grapefruit seeds in any historical or traditional medical systems as far as ABC's research has been able to determine. But synthetic versions of this product that started to show up in the marketplace in recent decades include constituents such as biocides like benzalkonium chloride, a synthetic compound found in OTC nasal sprays and mouthwashes. Other common adulterants along this line are methylparaben and triclosan. But none of them are meant for the benefits that consumers look to GFSE to supply, that being acting as a natural botanical antimicrobial, and of course none of them appear on the label.

The purported benefit of GFSE is as an antimicrobial, so people are almost selling it as a natural antibiotic,” ​Blumenthal said. In addition to the internal use by some consumers to deal with the proliferation of undesirable gut microbes, GFSE has also been mentioned as a ‘natural’ way to deal with bacterial contamination in food processing.

Blumenthal said that the GFSE publications will join publications on saw palmetto and bilberry that the program has produced this year. Since its inception, the program has been accelerating the pace of publication each year, a development that was facilitated by hiring Stefan Gafner, PhD, as the group’s chief science officer in late 2013​.

This is our ninth bulletin in less than a year and is our 30th publication in the entire program,” ​Blumenthal said.

Conference registration

For more information on the Botanical Adulterants Program can be found here​. To register for the Oxford conference, which will take place from April 3rd through the 6th, click here​.

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