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INA Methods Validation Program.
The Institute for Nutraceutical Advancement (INA) is celebrating the first anniversary of the Methods Validation Program (MVP). To bring consistency to the testing of botanical raw materials, MVP validates and distributes analytical methods for testing marker compounds in common herbs of commerce.

Industry response to this important scientific endeavor has been tremendous. INA Science Director Mark Lange, Ph.D., commented, "The United States Pharmacopoeia is interested in publishing INA methods in the USP/NF (U.S. Pharmacopeia/National Formulary) because the methods have been validated in multiple labs and have general industry support. Many INA methods will be submitted to USP for public comment, and USP can act as an avenue for future method revisions as our scientific understanding of botanical chemistry grows." American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has endorsed the INA kava method for measurement of kavalactones by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Gary Friedman, of the AHPA Kava Committee and managing partner of Cosmopolitan Trading, explained: "In the past, there was so much confusion over testing methods for kavalactones that it was becoming impossible to do business. It was apparent that we needed to get everyone on the same page. Through coope ration between INA and the AHPA Kava Committee, a highly accurate and affordable protocol has been validated."

Thus far, INA has successfully validated and published six methods: Ginkgosides and ginkgolides in ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba L.), ginsenosides in ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L. and P. ginseng C.A. Meyer), kavalactones in kava (Piper methysticum Forst.), phenolics in echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia DC., E. pallida Nutt., E. purpurea L.), and a fingerprint identification method for St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum L.). Methods are in progress for fatty acids and phytosterols in saw palmetto (Serenoa repens Bartram) and dianthrones in St. John's wort. (See chart.)

The Methods Evaluation Program has received strong support from members of the herb industry. Mike Petteruti, Advisory Committee representative for Folexco/East Earth Herb, commented on INA's importance in the industry: "From the beginning, our interest in the INA Methods Validation Program was to take a logical first step toward demonstrating that North American botanical suppliers and manufacturers are taking responsibility to provide quality products. Consumers often have the impression that the North American botanical marketplace is less established than that in Europe or Asia. INA's methods provide a way for us to move from a marketing-based industry to a more unified science-based industry." Echoing Mr. Petteruti's comments, Greg Ris, V.P. of Sales of Indena USA, said "Indena has been at the forefront of increasing industry standards for many years; we are pleased to be part of a program that brings together many of the industry's leaders to discuss elevating standards a nd ethics."

The MVP's original goal is to validate 15 botanical methods for the most common herbs of commerce; however, there is now interest in continuing the program beyond two years to develop test methods for botanicals entering the market. INA has new science projects in the planning phase. Article copyright American Botanical Council. ~~~~~~~~ By Rhonda Hess