DNA Barcoding and Pharmacovigilance of Herbal Medicines.

Pharmacovigilance of herbal medicines relies on the product label information regarding the ingredients and the adherence to good manufacturing practices along the commercialisation chain. Several studies have shown that substitution of plant species occurs in herbal medicines, and this in turn poses a challenge to herbal pharmacovigilance as adverse reactions might be due to adulterated or added ingredients. Authentication of constituents in herbal medicines using analytical chemistry methods can help detect contaminants and toxins, but are often limited or incapable of detecting the source of the contamination. Recent developments in molecular plant identification using DNA sequence data enable accurate identification of plant species from herbal medicines using defined DNA markers. Identification of multiple constituent species from compound herbal medicines using amplicon metabarcoding enables verification of labelled ingredients and detection of substituted, adulterated and added species. DNA barcoding is proving to be a powerful method to assess species composition in herbal medicines and has the potential to be used as a standard method in herbal pharmacovigilance research of adverse reactions to specific products.

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