Mints (Mentha spp.), aromatic crops grown largely for their essential oils, also are rich sources of nonvolatile antiinflammatory agents. Identification and quantitation of the constituents responsible for their antiinflammatory activity is challenging owing to the lack of suitable chromatographic methodology. In the present research, the simultaneous quantitation of antiinflammatory constituents rosmarinic acid, oleanolic acid, and ursolic acid in mints was attained by using a unique tandem HPLC column system coupled with an electrospray ionization mass detection (MRM mode). The ion mode optimization for rosmarinic acid under negative and triterpenoid acids under positive was achieved by setting 2 time segments in a single run where the polarity mode was switched from negative (0 to 10 min) to positive (10 to 40 min). For the investigated concentration ranges of antiinflammatory agents in mints, good linearities (r² ≥ 0.998) were obtained for each calibration curve. Validation of precision and accuracy for this method showed that intra- and inter-day repeatabilities for all analytes were less than 5.51%, and the recoveries varied from 97.8% to 99.3%. The developed LC/MS/MS assay provides a suitable quality control method for the determination of antiinflammatory constituents in Mentha spp. There is a wide range of diversity in the natural product composition for these acids across the Mentha germplasm collection evaluated. The presence of these antiinflammatory acids in post-distilled mints shows that value-added nutraceutical enriched products can be developed with proper processing and recovery systems in addition to the distillation and capture of the valuable volatile essential oils.
Practical application: Results from this research would benefit both commercial farmers growing mint for essential oil and those in the food industry where value-added phytopharmaceutical enriched products can be developed with proper processing, quality control, and recovery systems during mint essential oil distillation.
© 2011 Institute of Food Technologists®