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High-Performance Thin-Layer Chromatography for the Analysis of Medicinal Plants

High-Performance Thin-Layer Chromatography for the Analysis of Medicinal Plants by Eike Reich and Anne Schibli. New York, NY: Thieme; 2007. Hardcover; 264 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1-58890-409-6. $149.95. Available in ABC’s online store.

The ability to determine whether a product has met its specifications for quality is very much dependent on the effectiveness of the analytical tools employed. At first glance, thin-layer chromatography (TLC) may not be considered the most effective or, perhaps, modern tool available. In writing this book, the authors have provided a comprehensive and effective argument to dispel such preconceptions. Overall, the text expertly presents a basic but comprehensive introduction to TLC and further presents the technique’s more modern modifications and applications. While the dominating focus is on the use of high-performance TLC, (HPTLC) for the analysis of medicinal plants, the information provided should be an essential reference for anyone interested in this versatile analytical tool.

The opening chapter employs clever analogies and illustrations to guide readers through the potential benefits of using this chromatographic technique. Theoretical concepts and a more technical discussion follow in the next chapter, which provides a good starting point for understanding the methodology. The true substance of this text can be found in the third chapter, wherein the authors clearly and effectively walk the reader, step-wise, through the TLC process. Throughout chapters 3 and 4 are examples and illustrations that employ botanical substrates and which are used to demonstrate the application of HPTLC.

It is the final 2 chapters, however, that reveal the true strength and value of this book. Chapter 5, on Method Development, has a section on Defining the Analytical Goal that is edifying for anyone embarking on an analytical pursuit. The inclusion of a chapter devoted exclusively to the “why” and “how” of method validation is a welcome addition. The information is presented in a clear and concise manner, including very useful definitions of validation parameters.

While, in general, I have no complaint with this chapter—especially as many texts overlook this integral part of method development—I did find some details a little lean. For example, the discussion on validation guidelines specific to identity methods would have been extremely useful if provided with a statistical justification for the recommended criteria. The authors discuss International Conference on Harmonisation (ICH) guidelines and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) but barely mention Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC), which I consider a weakness of this chapter (although it must be acknowledged that this reviewer is the General Referee for the AOAC Dietary Supplement Methods Committee and may therefore be biased). After such an excellent discussion on Defining the Analytical Goal and the importance of validation, it was disappointing that the same level of attention and clarity wasn’t applied to the variety of statistical operations that can be employed, especially as each validation scheme and statistical tool provides a different level of confidence in the result.

The authors have presented information in a clear and concise manner with numerous practical examples and illustrations throughout the text. The appendices contain especially useful resources including invaluable lists for mobile phases and reagent descriptions, a template for a HPTLC standard operating procedure, and even an example of a validation protocol for identity. Overall this book provides an exceptional introduction and overview to the many applications of HPTLC in medicinal plant analysis.

—Paula N. Brown, MS British Columbia Institute of Technology Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada