Tetiana M. Derkach, Olena O. Starikova


The paper goal was to measure the content of bioactive substances, such as hypericins, some flavonoids and hydroxycinnamic acids, and concentrations of chemical elements, including essential macro- (K, Mg and Na), microelements (Zn, Mn, Cu, Fe, Cr, Ni and Co), as well as toxic metals (Pb and Cd), in samples of St. John's wort herbs of four different producers. High-performance liquid chromatography and atomic absorption spectroscopy were used; sample preparation was based on the procedures described in the State Pharmacopoeia of Ukraine. Significant variation in the content of organic compounds was detected: The difference between the maximum and minimum concentrations reaches a factor of 5 for hypericins, 10 for rutin and 2 for hyperoside. The concentration of quercetin was more stable than those of other flavonoids, and its fluctuations did not exceed 30%. The measured concentrations of hypericin and hyperoside, which are regulated by the Pharmacopoeia, were found to be lower than the norms. Elemental composition is also characterised by variability. Changes in the concentration of essential macroelements (K, Mg and Na) and some of the microelements (Zn, Cu and Ni) do not exceed 30-40%. The concentration of other essential microelements (Fe, Mn, Co and Cr) varies in much wider limits - from a factor of 2 (Mn) to 6 (Fe). In most cases, the measured concentrations of Pb and Cd fluctuate in the ranges of 0.15-0.25 μg/g and 0.25-0.35 μg/, respectively. However, some samples are enriched to 0.7-0.75 μg/g with both toxic metals. The measured concentrations are lower than the WHO norm for Pb (10 μg/g) in all samples and exceed the norm for Cd (0.3 μg/g) in three out of four studied samples. Statistically significant positive or negative correlations were found between the concentrations of certain elements (K, Mg, Fe, Mn and Cd) and the content of organic substances (rutin, hyperoside, hypericin and rosemary and chlorogenic acids). From a practical viewpoint, the most important are positive correlations of Fe with rutin, as well as negative correlations between Mn and hyperosid, and Cd and chlorogenic acid. Existing requirements and norms for medicinal plants in Ukraine do not guarantee the stability of the chemical composition of plants that are sold in the pharmacy network and, accordingly, the stability of their therapeutic properties.


Hypericum perforatum, herb, St. John's wort, elemental composition, hypericin, rutin, hyperoside, atomic absorption spectroscopy, high-performance liquid chromatography

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