Editor's Note
This study aims to detect and quantify the pyrrolizidine alkaloids ( PAs) in liqueurs, elixirs and herbal juices. The PA content was determined in the form of a single sum parameter using HPLC-ESI-MS/MS and a stable isotope-labeled internal standard. Overall, 56 products available at German pharmacies, drugstores, or internet shops were analyzed, comprising in total 38 samples of liqueurs (mainly bitters), 12 samples of plant elixirs and six different herbal juices. The results showed that 9 out of 38 liqueurs were PA-positive (24%). The total amount of PAs ranged from non-detectable to 9.5 μg/kg. Seven out of 10 elixirs were PA-positive (70%) with a maximum PA-content of 3121 μg/kg. Four out of six plant juices were PA-positive (67%) with an average of 4.4 μg/kg (PA-positive samples only).
July 2019
Fitoterapia
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fitote.2019.104172

Abstract

Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs and corresponding N-oxides (PANOs)) are known to have adverse health effects. Their toxic effects on liver cells are especially well-documented. In addition, potential carcinogenic and mutagenic effects in chronic exposure via food and/or herbal medicines have been a subject of vivid discussion in the last decade. Liqueurs and elixirs are traditionally used alcoholic extracts made from parts of plants and herbs. PA cross-contamination of the final products seems likely. Hence, this study aims to detect and quantify the PAs in such products in the light of a possible PA-contamination. The PA content was determined in the form of a single sum parameter using HPLC-ESI-MS/MS and a stable isotope-labeled internal standard. Overall, 56 products available at German pharmacies, drugstores, or internet shops were analyzed, comprising in total 38 samples of liqueurs (mainly bitters), 12 samples of plant elixirs and six different herbal juices. The results showed that 9 out of 38 liqueurs were PA-positive (24%). The total amount of PAs ranged from non-detectable to 9.5 μg/kg. Seven out of ten elixirs were PA-positive (70%) with a maximum PA-content of 3121 μg/kg. Four out of six plant juices were PA-positive (67%) with an average of 4.4 μg/kg (PA-positive samples only).The results and potential risks are discussed in the light of recommended portions for daily consumption or daily doses, in association with the detected PA amounts for individual products and product classes.

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