Ginkgo biloba L. (Ginkgoaceae) leaf extract is one of the most popular herbal products on the market, as it contains flavone glycosides (≥ 24%) and terpene lactones (≥ 6%), which are proposed to have significant physiological effects. Unfortunately, the challenging financial climate has resulted in a natural health product market containing adulterated ginkgo products.
42 ginkgo samples were analyzed to establish an HPLC profile for authentic ginkgo and common ginkgo adulterants, and to develop a method capable of easily detecting adulteration in ginkgo commercial products.
In this study an efficient and targeted HPLC analysis method was established that is capable of distinguishing flavonol glycosides and aglycones simultaneously for the evaluation of ginkgo powdered extracts (PEs) and finished products in a single, 13 min run. Thirteen ginkgo leaf samples, fifteen standardized powdered extracts, and fourteen commercially available ginkgo products have been analyzed using this new HPLC method. Chromatograms were compared to six standard reference materials: one flavonol glycoside (rutin), three aglycones (quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin), and two isoflavones (genestin and genistein). The quantitative chromatographic data was interpreted by principal component analysis (PCA), which assisted in the detection of unexpected chromatographic features in various adulterated botanical products.
Only three of the commercially available ginkgo finished products tested in this study were determined to be authentic, with flavonol glycoside rutin, and aglycones quercetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin found to be common adulterants in the ginkgo powdered extract and finished product samples.
Despite evidence of adulteration in most of the samples, each of the samples discussed herein met most of the current pharmacopeial standards. It is therefore critical that a preliminary evaluation be utilized to detect adulteration in commercial ginkgo products, prior to the acid hydrolysis procedure utilized in the current testing methods.|