Handbook of Analytical Methods for Dietary Supplements by Frank Jaksch, Mingfu Wang, and Mark Roman. Washington, DC: American Pharmacists Association; 2005. Hardcover, 215 pages. ISBN 1-58212-055-2. $197.95.
This book is basically a compilation of HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography) methods for the analysis of predominantly "popular" herbs and some of the more common dietary supplements used in this industry today. There are 38 monographs in all, each with a standard format for quick reference. Entries include chemical names, formulas, and structures, along with information on solubility and other physical/chemical data. Also provided are a brief description of common uses and the mode of action, if known.
With new final rules for current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) soon to be published by the Food and Drug Administration, this book is a timely publication that will help fill the analytical gap for the dietary supplement (DS) industry. Regulatory considerations combined with increased competitive pressures have created a growingneed for accurate analytical results from laboratory testing of botanical raw materials, their extracts, and finished products. With so many different methods of analysis becoming available for the same botanical ingredient, it has become necessary for members of the herb industry to use not only valid but "validated" methods of analysis to ensure the "identity, purity, quality, strength, and composition of their dietary ingredients." Accordingly, this book provides natural products chemists with the necessary confidence in their quantitative analysis for some of the marker compounds contained within these complex systems.
Anyone involved with the analysis of DS will want to have this book in his or her library. Moreover, it is probably an indispensable resource for any analytical chemist involved in botanical DS analysis. The book has much to offer an industry sorely lacking this kind of reference material. Too frequently, compendial methods are not available, and one typically has to search through university or web-based libraries for any references to a particular method of analysis. In the lab, we usually have to combine various methods from different research papers as part of the method development process.
Finally, we can now look at one source and find analytical methods for many common as well as uncommon herbs and dietary supplements. In almost every monograph, this book presents several methods. This is a particularly nice feature because one has the opportunity to review, compare, and contrast several valid methods. Many of the methods offered are from peer reviewed journals and include a reference to the original publication. Some of the methods presented include an additional section describing different levels of validation data.
Some minor improvements would make this book more complete. First, it would be helpful to have more actual chromatograms for any and all methods as well as the spectra of the various compounds of interest. A picture is worth a thousand words—especially when it comes to chromatography. It reveals much about a method that isn't necessarily revealed from the data alone. Data are great but chromatograms are what we frequently use to evaluate a method. If there were more chromatograms, this book would be even more valuable to the natural products chemist. Second, although there is generally enough information to carry out the analysis, some of the methods leave out details in the method preparation that could be important. Fortunately, the reference to the original publication of the method should be useful in these situations. These suggestions would provide a welcome addition to a well written and researched book of analytical methods for DS.
All in all, we give this book "two thumbs up." It accomplishes its purpose of providing a sampling of analytical methods, along with appropriate validation data when available, for some of the more common herbs and DS in commerce today. Now all the authors have to do is continue publishing these practical lab books for all the natural product companies and their analytical chemists, and thus make their lives a little easier.
—Sidney Sudberg and Jennifer Terrazas Alkemists Pharmaceuticals, Inc.