Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbs and manufactured products have been used for thousands of years for preventing and treating disease. According to the Taiwanese Economics Department, 80 percent of the world’s population uses TCMs.
TCMs can be very complex, containing many elements at different concentration levels. Plants can absorb heavy metals and toxic elements from the environment, including lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg) and arsenic (As). TCMs may also contain additives not in the listed ingredients. For these reasons, governments and health agencies are paying greater attention to safety issues around the export and use of TCMs.
Agilent plays a leading role in the safety and development of TCMs around the world. Agilent was a key co-organizer of the sixth World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies held in Belgium earlier this year.
Agilent has also played a significant role in compiling the Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China, China’s official manual for traditional and Western TCMs. The 2015 edition, which has just been released, contains thousands of references to LC, GC and LC/MS analytical techniques for ensuring TCM quality standards.
Agilent provides a complete set of solutions, techniques and best practices for TCM science. Agilent also researches TCM theory in cooperation with labs and industry experts. In addition to established HPLC methods, Agilent’s newest technology platforms, the Agilent ICP-MS and Agilent MP-AES, are also being used to detect trace levels of heavy metals and other toxins.
Some herbal medicines, including components in ginkgo and astragali, do not contain chromophores (the molecules responsible for color). As a result, they do not produce signals with a normal ultraviolet detector. The Agilent 1200 Series evaporative light scattering detector provides an excellent alternative for measuring non-UV-absorbing analytes.
For more information go to:
- Traditional Chinese Medicine: An Introduction (National Institutes of Health)
- World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies
- Compendium of HPLC Applications for Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chemical Drugs in China Pharmacopoeia (PDF)
- (2007) Fast determination of five toxic elements in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) by ICP-MS (PDF)
- (2012) Analysis of Chinese herbal medicines by microwave plasma-atomic emission spectrometry (MP-AES) (PDF)
- Analysis of traditional Chinese medicines with the Agilent 1200 Series evaporative light scattering detector (PDF)
- Agilent in Traditional Chinese Medicine (PDF)