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The safe use of herbal medicines requires prior authentication of the raw materials used to make them. This is an important step, since the ingestion of herbal preparations or extracts can cause serious health problems. Among the different analytical techniques, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy has the advantage of being non-invasive and therefore suitable for the characterization of natural products such as medicinal plants. This work presents a characterisation study of the samples of the popular plant Maytenus ilicifolia, obtained from different commercial producers. This plant is used for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, as it possesses antitumorigenic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The differences in the chemical structure and molecular organisation detected by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) were also investigated by proton nuclear magnetic resonance relaxometry, in particular by fast field cycling (FFC) relaxometry, and relaxometry in the rotating frame. All results confirmed the similarity between the control sample and only one of the plant investigated. The differences detected between the samples could be related to their non-authenticity, due to the non recognise the plant due to the leaves similarity among plants from the same family and/or contamination, due to addition of similar other plants parts to the commercial ones, as they are mixed together this difficulties the acceptation of the plant. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


M S M Preto, M I B Tavares, P J O Sebastião, R B V Azeredo. Determination of herb authenticity by low-field NMR. Food chemistry. 2013 Feb 15;136(3-4):1272-6

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PMID: 23194523

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