Quality consistency evaluation ofMelissa officinalisL. commercial herbs by HPLC fingerprint and quantitation of selected phenolic acids

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To evaluate the quality consistency of commercial medicinal herbs, a simple and reliable HPLC method with UV–vis detector was developed, both for fingerprint analysis and quantitation of some pharmacologically active constituents (marker compounds). Melissa officinalis L. (lemon balm) was chosen for this study because it is widely used as an aromatic, culinary and medicine remedy. About fifty peaks were found in each chromatogram of a lemon balm extract, including twelve satisfactorily resolved characteristic peaks. A reference chromatographic fingerprint for the studied medicinal herb was calculated using Matlab 9.1 software as a result of analysing all the 19 lemon balm samples obtained from 12 Polish manufacturers. The similarity values and the results of principal component analysis revealed that all the samples were highly correlated with the reference fingerprint and could be accurately classified in relation to their quality consistency. Next, a quantitation of selected phenolic acids in the studied samples was performed. The results have shown that the levels of phenolic acids, i.e. gallic, chlorogenic, syringic, caffeic, ferulic and rosmarinic were as follows (mg/g of dry weight): 0.001–0.067, 0.010–0.333, 0.007–0.553, 0.047–0.705, 0.006–1.589 and 0.158–48.608, respectively. Statistical analysis indicated that rosmarinic acid occurs in M. officinalis at the highest level, whereas gallic acid in the lowest. A detailed inspection of these data has also revealed that reference chromatographic fingerprints combined with quantitation of pharmacologically active constituents of the plant could be used as an efficient strategy for monitoring of the lemon balm quality consistency.

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