Metal Contents in the Most Widely Consumed Commercial Preparations of Four Different Medicinal Plants (Aloe, Senna, Ginseng, and Ginkgo) from Europe

  • Carmen Rubio
  • Soraya Paz
  • Elena Tius
  • Arturo Hardisson
  • Angel J. Gutierrez
  • Dailos Gonzalez-Weller
  • José M. Caballero
  • Consuelo Revert


Medicinal plants like Aloe barbadensis, Ginkgo biloba, Panax ginseng, and Cassia angustifolia are being increasingly used but self-medication is a major public health challenge because of their numerous interactions. Furthermore, dietary exposure to metals through the consumption of these commercial preparations should be evaluated. Some of these metals may have a nutritional interest but others are metals of toxicological relevance. The content of essential and toxic metals has been analyzed by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) in 80 samples of both organically and conventionally grown aloe, senna, ginseng, and ginkgo pharmaceutical formats to establish their metallic profile, to evaluate their nutritional value and to assess the toxic metal risk resulting from their consumption. Ca (9181 mg/kg ww) in senna, Fe (30.0 mg/kg ww) in ginseng, and Al (15.7 mg/kg ww) in ginseng are noteworthy. The consumption of 9 g/day of ginkgo represents 6.44% of the RDI set for Ca. The consumption of 25 mL/day of aloe syrup is 3.06% (men) and 1.52% (women) of the RDI of Fe. Al exposure from 25 mL/day of aloe consumption is 2.71% of its TDI. Considering the dosages recommended by the manufacturers, the intake of toxic metals does not pose a health risk but the intake of essential metals is worth mentioning.


Aloe barbadensis Ginkgo biloba Panax ginseng Cassia angustifolia Metals Nutritional and toxicology assessment 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carmen Rubio
    • 1
  • Soraya Paz
    • 1
  • Elena Tius
    • 1
  • Arturo Hardisson
    • 1
  • Angel J. Gutierrez
    • 1
  • Dailos Gonzalez-Weller
    • 2
  • José M. Caballero
    • 1
  • Consuelo Revert
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ToxicologyUniversidad de La LagunaLa LagunaSpain
  2. 2.Health Inspection and Laboratory ServiceCanary Health ServiceS/C de TenerifeSpain

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