Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 407, Issue 25, pp 7733–7746 | Cite as

Identification of Ginkgo biloba supplements adulteration using high performance thin layer chromatography and ultra high performance liquid chromatography-diode array detector-quadrupole time of flight-mass spectrometry

  • Bharathi Avula
  • Satyanarayanaraju Sagi
  • Stefan Gafner
  • Roy Upton
  • Yan-Hong Wang
  • Mei Wang
  • Ikhlas A. KhanEmail author
Research Paper


Ginkgo biloba is one of the most widely sold herbal supplements and medicines in the world. Its popularity stems from having a positive effect on memory and the circulatory system in clinical studies. As ginkgo popularity increased, non-proprietary extracts were introduced claiming to have a similar phytochemical profile as the clinically tested extracts. The standardized commercial extracts of G. biloba leaf used in ginkgo supplements contain not less than 6 % sesquiterpene lactones and 24 % flavonol glycosides. While sesquiterpene lactones are unique constituents of ginkgo leaf, the flavonol glycosides are found in many other botanical extracts. Being a high value botanical, low quality ginkgo extracts may be subjected to adulteration with flavonoids to meet the requirement of 24 % flavonol glycosides. Chemical analysis by ultra high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry revealed that adulteration of ginkgo leaf extracts in many of these products is common, the naturally flavonol glycoside-rich extract being spiked with pure flavonoids or extracts made from another flavonoid-rich material, such as the fruit/flower of Japanese sophora (Styphnolobium japonicum), which also contains the isoflavone genistein. Recently, genistein has been proposed as an analytical marker for the detection of adulteration of ginkgo extracts with S. japonicum. This study confirms that botanically authenticated G. biloba leaf and extracts made therefrom do not contain genistein, and the presence of which even in trace amounts is suggestive of adulteration. In addition to the mass spectrometric approach, a high performance thin layer chromatography method was developed as a fast and economic method for chemical fingerprint analysis of ginkgo samples.


Ginkgo biloba L. HPTLC UHPLC-DAD-QToF-MS Dietary supplements Styphnolobium japonicum (L.) Schott 



This research is supported in part by “Science Based Authentication of Dietary Supplements” funded by the Food and Drug Administration grant number 1U01FD004246-04, the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Specific Cooperative Agreement No. 58-6408-1-603-04. The authors would like to thank Annette Ford for the extraction of samples.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

216_2015_8938_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.7 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 3.67 mb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bharathi Avula
    • 1
  • Satyanarayanaraju Sagi
    • 1
  • Stefan Gafner
    • 2
  • Roy Upton
    • 3
  • Yan-Hong Wang
    • 1
  • Mei Wang
    • 1
  • Ikhlas A. Khan
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.National Center for Natural Products Research, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical SciencesThe University of MississippiUniversityUSA
  2. 2.American Botanical CouncilAustinUSA
  3. 3.American Herbal PharmacopoeiaScotts ValleyUSA
  4. 4.Division of Pharmacognosy, Department of BioMolecular Sciences, School of PharmacyThe University of MississippiUniversityUSA

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