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Laudanum opiatum caesareum: authentication of the composition of a historical pharmaceutical preparation from the eighteenth century using a multianalytical approach

Abstract

The historical relic of pharmaceutical, opium-containing preparation Laudanum opiatum caesareum from the eighteenth century was analyzed using a multianalytical approach. Inorganic substances were indirectly determined by atomic absorption spectrometry. HPLC and GC connected with mass spectrometry were used for the detection of organic substances. The volatile organic substances were captured by headspace-solid phase microextraction before analysis. From the results, it was possible to largely authenticate the original recipe, although the results show that the period apothecary changed the recipe by omitting some ingredients and by the addition of an extra ingredient. A total of 59 organic substances were detected, most of which served as markers confirming the presence of ingredients according to the period prescription. Besides, it was possible to confirm the assumption from the previous publication that the calculated ratio of the concentration of noscapine and cotarnine can be used as a marker for the age of the opium-containing preparations. The results also demonstrate that even though more than two centuries have passed since the preparation of the analyzed relic, and the container in which it has been stored was not hermetically sealed, it was possible to detect many volatile substances even after such a long time.

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Acknowledgements

The financial support by the project Progress Q46 of Charles University is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Karel Nesměrák.

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Nesměrák, K., Štícha, M., Belianský, M. et al. Laudanum opiatum caesareum: authentication of the composition of a historical pharmaceutical preparation from the eighteenth century using a multianalytical approach. Monatsh Chem 152, 1089–1096 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00706-021-02790-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00706-021-02790-y

Keywords

  • Alkaloids
  • Authentication
  • GC–MS
  • HPLC–MS
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Opium
  • Volatile organic compounds