Quality assessment of African herbal medicine: A systematic review and the way forward

Fitoterapia. 2022 Oct:162:105287. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2022.105287. Epub 2022 Aug 27.


Background: In Africa, herbalism supplements allopathic medicine's efforts to ensure Universal Health Coverage attainment. This review was conducted to identify and to summarise current literature on methodological approaches used for quality control of herbal medicines in Africa, to evaluate the gaps associated with existing strategies within context of best practices, and make recommendations for future improvements.

Methods: A systematic search was conducted using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Articles were screened and assessed for eligibility.

Results: 118 articles were included into the study. There was a high preference for impurity profiling tests (77%) indicating the prioritization for tests that guarantee safety despite the limited analytical resources available. Other classes of tests reported included identification tests (29%), physicochemical tests (18%), and content assays (12%). Although standard methods exist in preparing samples for impurity tests, different techniques were observed in different studies, and this could lead to differences in analytical outcomes. Content assays focused on single marker assessments, which may be inadequate to comprehensively assess the quality of products.

Conclusion: This review provides knowledge of existing strengths and challenges for herbal medicine quality assessments in Africa. For future it is recommended to implement more studies on contaminants (e.g. mycotoxins) and pharmaceutical adulterants. The use of chemometrics to develop analytical methods should be promoted. Also, stakeholders in the medicine quality industry in Africa need to effectively collaborate to establish a well co-ordinated and harmonized system to provide a sustainable framework for the GACP and GMP guided production and quality assurance of herbal medicines.

Keywords: Africa; Analytical methods; Chemometrics; Herbal medicines; Pharmacopeial standards; Quality.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Herbal Medicine
  • Molecular Structure
  • Mycotoxins
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plants, Medicinal*


  • Mycotoxins