Natural Products Insider

MAY-JUN 2018

INSIDER is the leading information source for marketers, manufacturers and formulators of dietary supplements, healthy foods and cosmeceuticals. Since 1997, INSIDER has been serving the needs of the global nutrition industry.

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4 ASHWAGANDHA ADVANTAGE Exploring the Ashwagandha Advantage Ashwagandha Insights Ensuring the authenticity of botanical ingredients is one of the key issues along the supply chain. Leading researchers shared their thoughts on identity and adulteration concerns with Ashwagandha Advantage. Biotechnology and Botanical Authentication The high therapeutic value, high demand and low availability of ashwagandha roots creates pressure for substitution of root material with leaf material. As a result, there is signifi cant need for reliable authentication methods for ashwagandha products. This can be a challenging task because most products are sold as highly processed powders, extracts or capsules, rendering morphological identifi cation diffi cult, if not impossible. Conventional methods such as observation of macroscopic and microscopic characters, chemotaxonomy and chromatographic procedures show only limited success in identifi cation of ashwagandha powders. Because withanolides are found in both roots and leaves, chemotaxonomy is not an ideal tool. However, DNA-based methods have recently emerged as a powerful diagnostic tool for authentication of medicinal plant material used in natural health products. In this blog, Steven Newmaster, Ph.D., and S. "Ragu" Ragupathy, Ph.D., scientists at Ontario, Canada- based University of Guelph, examine new biotechnology and standard operating procedures (SOPs) that may offer an (SOPs) that may offer an alternative to conventional botanical authentication. Ashwagandha Root Ingredient Identity Issues Ashwagandha leaves are used medicinally, but the root is traditionally considered more valuable by many, and is the plant part used in traditional Indian medicine systems. The increased demand for roots has led to a rapid price increase, therefore providing an incentive for economically motivated adulteration. Detection of the presence of undeclared leaf material is complicated by the fact that some of the same withanolides—plant triterpenoids thought to be at least partly responsible for the therapeutic benefi ts of ashwagandha— occur both in the leaves and in the roots. While the sale of leaf instead of root extract probably does not pose a safety risk, it puts ethical suppliers of ashwagandha root extracts at a disadvantage since they cannot compete on price with these lower-cost extracts containing undisclosed levels of leaf. Such practices also damage the reputation of the industry, and may turn consumers away from purchasing ashwagandha products since the adulterated dietary supplements may not provide the expected benefi ts. In this blog, Stefan Gafner, chief scientifi c offi cer at the chief scientifi c offi cer at the American Botanical Council (ABC), explains that although ashwagandha product sales are increasing, so too are reports of undeclared leaf material being added to ashwagandha root extracts.

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