Industry Collaborates on Adulterated St. John’s Wort Investigation, Proposes Enhancements to Authentication Scheme


Alkemist Labs Founder Co-Authors Study in Journal of AOAC International with CAMAG, USP, Arizona Nutritional Supplements and AHPA

Costa Mesa, CA (September 13, 2016) – Sidney Sudberg, Alkemist Labs Founder and CSO, and other notable industry experts co-authored a study that identified adulterated St. John’s Wort products and recommended specific ways to improve testing of the popular herb.

St. John’s Wort versus Counterfeit St. John’s Wort: An HPTLC Study, published in the Journal of AOAC International (Vol. 99, No. 5, 2016) was a collaborative effort by Débora A. Frommenwiler and Eike Reich of CAMAG, Maged H.M. Sharaf of American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), Anton Bzhelyansky of United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), Ben Lucas of Arizona Nutritional Supplements, and Sidney Sudberg. The article can be found here.

The study, which investigated St. John’s wort (SJW) ingredients and products suspected to be adulterated based upon a simple preliminary test, proposes enhanced authentication procedures along with a decision flowchart to systematically rule out SJW adulteration.

One of the top-selling botanicals globally for many years, the high value of SJW makes it a target for adulteration. From a total of 37 samples of SJW herb, dry extracts, and commercial products tested in this study, approximately 38% were proven inauthentic either due to admixture of synthetic dyes combined with an uncharacteristic flavonoid pattern (approximately 22%) or by exhibiting an uncharacteristic flavonoid pattern only (approximately 16%). None of the raw herb samples were adulterated with dyes; the latter were only found in extracts and finished products.

“It’s common knowledge that when an herbal product is a strong seller, there will be unscrupulous vendors who try to find ways around established testing methods,” said Sidney. “Collaboration between industry experts to strengthen analytical methods is the best way to combat this practice, and for people like us, it’s incredibly satisfying.”

“I think this work is an excellent example illustrating the great potential of HPTLC, unlocked by standardized methodology, suitable equipment and validated methods provided by CAMAG, when it comes to analysis of highly complex and naturally variable samples such as botanicals” stated Débora Frommenwiler.


About Alkemist Labs

Alkemist Labs is an ISO 17025 accredited contract testing laboratory specializing in plant authentication, botanical ingredient identification and quantitative analytical services to the Food & Beverage, Nutraceutical and Cosmeceutical industries. Located in Costa Mesa, California, Alkemist Labs offers clients a wide range of specialty research services to evaluate the identity, purity and quality of botanical raw materials, dietary ingredients and finished products. Alkemist Labs produces a complete line of Composite Reference Botanicals (CRBs), critical tools for botanical identity verification, and also distributes phytochemical reference standards from Extrasynthese of Lyon, France. Alkemist Labs has become the ideal “Partner for Quality” to companies interested in producing high quality natural products requiring independent, third-party analysis, Stability/Shelf-life studies, Certification of Analysis and cGMP compliance.


Suzanne Shelton | The Shelton Group | T: 847-922-5454


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