AbstractHerbal medicinal products (HMPs) have grown increasingly popular in the United States, many of them with imported raw materials and sold online. Yet due to the lack of regulation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), manufacturers of the products can substitute or add in other herbs that are not advertised on the label. In this study, as part of the Urban Barcode Research Program (UBRP), an education initiative to engage New York City high school students in science, we aimed to taxonomically authenticate single-ingredient online-sold HMPs containing non-native plants through DNA barcoding of the internal transcribed spacer 2 region (ITS2) and matK. We were able to successfully barcode 20 HMPs, but four of these did not match the expected species. It was concluded that the four HMPs advertising astragalus, epazote, ginseng, and chanca piedra were contaminated/ substituted because their ITS2 and matK DNA sequences did not match the expected taxonomy in GenBank, a government database. Our study highlights the importance of herbal pharmacovigilance in the absence of strict government regulation of herbal supplements and motivates crowd-sourced DNA barcoding to enable American consumers make informed choices and be more empowered to safeguard their health.
Open Life Sciences – de Gruyter
Published: Apr 6, 2018
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