A strategy for the identification of plants in illegal pharmaceutical preparations and food supplements using chromatographic fingerprints

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2013 Mar;405(7):2341-52. doi: 10.1007/s00216-012-6649-4. Epub 2013 Jan 11.


The detection of regulated and forbidden herbs in pharmaceutical preparations and nutritional supplements is a growing problem for laboratories charged with the analysis of illegal pharmaceutical preparations and counterfeit medicines. This article presents a feasibility study of the use of chromatographic fingerprints for the detection of plants in pharmaceutical preparations. Fingerprints were developed for three non-regulated common herbal products--Rhamnus purshiana, Passiflora incarnata L. and Crataegus monogyna--and this was done by combining three different types of detection: diode-array detection, evaporative light scattering detection and mass spectrometry. It is shown that these plants could be detected in respective triturations of the dry extracts with lactose and three different herbal matrices as well as in commercial preparations purchased on the open market.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography / methods*
  • Counterfeit Drugs / chemistry*
  • Crataegus / chemistry*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Passiflora / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Rhamnus / chemistry*


  • Counterfeit Drugs
  • Plant Extracts