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Why Herbal Medicine Analysis?

Modernizing the old art of herbal medicine practice requires addressing the three interrelated issues of ‘quality’, ‘safety’, and ‘efficacy’. The 'pharmaceutical quality' of plant medicines is critically important as it does also affect the efficacy and safety of the drugs. Among many other factors, the  quality of a given plant medicine could be variable due to:

  1. wrong species/variety of plant selected

  2. wrong/different plant parts selected

  3. potential degradation of active compounds during harvest,  transport and storage

  4. inadequate/wrong extraction procedure

  5. wrong/different time/season of collection resulting in a qualitative and quantitative differences of active compounds

  6. qualitative and quantitative differences in active constituents based on environmental differences

  7. contamination of plant medicines with microbes, microbial toxins, environmental pollutants, or heavy metals have been  the major subjects of concern in the herbal medicine industry.

Various preparations of plant medicines including decoctions, infusions, powders, juices are used in traditional medicine by means of one or multiple routes of administration. Such crude plant medicine preparations are complex mixture of different compounds, which may act in an agonistic, antagonistic, synergistic, complementary or toxic manner. In the first instance, the therapeutic potential of such medicines need to be VALIDATED through PHARMACOLOGICAL ASSAYS. Establishing the scientific basis of plant medicines would promote the evidence based approach in these practices and also gives confidence among reluctant users of the green medicine.

If the chemical constituents responsible for the therapeutic activity of plant medicines are known, STANDARDIZATION OF THE DRUGS IS POSSIBLE. Alternatively, the active constituents may be isolated and used by their own. Hence, PHYTOCHEMICAL ANALYSIS of plants is an essential component of the ‘quality, safety and efficacy’ issues of plant medicines. Further detail of herbal medicine standardisations can be obtained by visiting our exemplary HPLC-based assay site. 

As a classical example, we have undertaken a quality check on Aloe vera supplements following the listing of such products as potential therapy for diabetes by the Diabetes UK. Our study using comprehensive chromatography and spectroscopy analysis revealed poor quality assurance procedure including mislabelling and toxic contaminants (methanol!) in  some popular brands. Click on the image below to access the free article:


Contact us if you have concerns on food or medicinal products that are suspected to be of low standards; or that needs analysis by our electronic NOSE!


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The Site Owner

Dr Habtemariam BSc, MSc, PhD........FRSM, FRSC. .... With a Principal Lecturer post at Greenwich, Dr Habtemariam is a leader of the BSc Pharmaceutical Science programme and researches on bioassay & natural products-based drug development. ....More



In addition to our fully equipped tissue culture facilities, we have  access to various state-of-the-art equipment including ICP-MS, LC-MS, MALDI-TOF-MS, FABS-MS, FTIR, Laser-Raman,  scanning  and transmission  electron microscopes, flow cytometer, NMR (270, 300 and 500MHz),  automated DNA sequencers, various HPLC systems,  capillary electrophersis and ABI PRCmate DNA synthetisers.










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Lectures, seminars,  workshops & short courses; undergraduate, postgraduate &  postdoctoral level education and trainings on pharmacology &  pharmacognosy subject areas

Modernising the old art of traditional medicines can only happen through up-to-date scientific research

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