FWD 2 Botanical Adulterants Monitor



Dear Reader

Two new Botanical Adulterants Bulletins (BABs) on tea tree oil and rhodiola have been published as part of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program. The BAB on tea tree oil, written by Ezra Bejar, PhD, details authenticity issues with this essential oil widely used for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. The bulletin on adulteration of Rhodiola rosea, co-authored by Ezra Bejar, PhD, John Cardellina, PhD, and Roy Upton, documents some of the quality issues found with the authenticity of commercial products labeled to contain R. rosea. Differences in understanding of the meaning of rhodiola between Western manufacturers and Chinese traders, who use the common name hong jing tian as an umbrella term for a number of Rhodiola species, have led to a situation where a several Rhodiola species are commercially available labeled as R. rosea.


  Stefan Gafner, PhD
Chief Science Officer, ABC
Technical Director, ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program

ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program

Recent News 

Bulletins on Adulteration of Tea Tree Oil and Rhodiola rosea Published by the Program 

Recent reports have provided evidence for rather widespread economically-motivated adulteration of tea tree oil, the essential oil obtained by steam distillation of the leaves and terminal branchlets of Melaleuca alternifolia (Myrtaceae) and M. linariifolia. Adulterants include synthetic terpinen-4-ol, or industrial by-products from ‘normalizing’ eucalyptus, and other essential oils such as pine and white camphor.

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Botanical Adulteration Program Creates New Section on Adulteration of Essential Oils 

Essential oils, the volatile components from plants obtained by steam distillation or other appropriate techniques, have a long history of adulteration due to the fact that many of these oils are relatively expensive and thus represent an opportunity for unethical sellers to make a profit by diluting or substituting the labeled material with lower-cost essential oils, vegetable oils, natural or synthetic essential oil isolates, or various other diluents.

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ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program Welcomes New Supporters and Underwriters 

The ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program is grateful to the following companies that have recently committed to financially underwriting the Program:

Arbonne International
Arizona Nutritional Supplements

Regulatory Alerts

Northern Illinois Court District Class Action Lawsuit Based on NYAG Investigation Settled by Target, Walgreens, and Walmart 

Over two years after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent cease-and-desist orders to the four retailers GNC, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart for allegedly selling adulterated herbal dietary supplements based on the results of a flawed and widely criticized DNA barcoding investigation into the authenticity of herbal dietary supplements, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens settled a multi-district lawsuit that was based on the results of the NY AG’s investigation. 

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Upcoming Events

Below are descriptions and links to some of the upcoming conferences, seminars, and workshops that may be of interest to learn more on adulteration.

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Previous Issues of “Botanical Adulterants Monitor”

Available here.

Science Update

Investigation into the Authenticity of Commercial Reishi Supplements Sold in the United States

Wu D-T, Deng Y, Chen L-X, Zhao J, Bzhelyansky A, Li S-P. Evaluation on quality consistency of Ganoderma lucidum dietary supplements collected in the United States. Sci Rep. 2017;7:7792. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-06336-3

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Czech Study Finds Adulterated Sea Buckthorn Oil Product Based on Low Price

Reviewed: Hurkova K, Rubert J, Stranska-Zachariasova M, Hajslova L. Strategies to document adulteration of food supplement based on sea buckthorn oil: a case study. Food Anal Methods. 2017;10:1317–1327.

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Genetic Authentication of Commercial Sea Buckthorn Berry Products Sold in Markets and Stores in China

Reviewed: Liu Y, Xiang L, Zhang Y, et al. DNA barcoding based identification of Hippophae species and authentication of commercial products by high resolution melting analysis. Food Chem. 2018;42:62-67.

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Macroscopic Analysis of Commercial Supplies of Seeds and Fruits Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Reviewed: Van der Valk JMA, Leon CJ, Nesbitt M. Macroscopic authentication of Chinese materia medica (CMM): A UK market study of seeds and fruits. J Herbal Med. 2017;8:40-51.

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Distinction between Actaea racemosa and Its Adulterants Using Feruloyl Dopamine-O-Hexosides as Taxonomic Marker Compounds

Reviewed: Geng P, Harnly JM, Sun J, Zhang M, Chen P. Feruloyl dopamine-O-hexosides are efficient marker compounds as orthogonal validation for authentication of black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) – an UHPLC-HRAM-MS chemometrics study. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2017; 409(10):2591-2600.


A review on new research on quality control of botanicals presented at the 65th Annual meeting of the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Products Research (GA) in Basel, Switzerlands

The 65th annual meeting of the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (also known as Gesellschaft für Arzneipflanzenforschung, GA) took place in Basel, Switzerland, from September 3-7, 2017.



Useful Links and Resources

For more information and updates on the work of the three partner organizations of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program, please visit ABC at www.herbalgram.org, AHP at www.herbal-ahp.org, and NCNPR at www.pharmacy.olemiss.edu/ncnpr.

Other Helpful Resources and Links

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About the

The ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program is a consortium of independent nonprofit organizations whose mission relates to education, scientific research, and quality of botanical dietary ingredients and related plant-derived materials. The consortium is headed by three nonprofit groups dealing with education and research on medicinal herbs and other beneficial plants: the American Botanical Council, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, and the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi. The program is underwritten or endorsed by more than 130 natural products industry companies, independent analytical laboratories, contract research organizations, nonprofit and professional organizations, trade associations, accredited institutions of education in natural medicine, law firms, and media companies that are involved in the production, supply, manufacture, distribution, marketing, analysis, research, and/or education of herbal dietary ingredients and supplements, in the United States and internationally. All publications of the Program are available free-access on its homepage including the “Botanical Adulterants Monitor,” an e-newsletter that conveys Program news, regulatory updates, and recent scientific publications related to adulteration, contamination, identity, and authenticity of botanical raw materials, extracts, and essential oils. Companies, organizations, foundations, and/or individuals interested in supporting this program are invited to contact Ms. Denise Meikel, ABC Development Director, at (512) 926-4900, ext. 120, or by email.


Thank You to Our Supporters


Underwriters and Supporters of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program (as of Nov 29, 2017)*

*By acknowledging the generous support of these companies and organizations, ABC, AHP, and NCNPR are not endorsing any ingredients or products that may be produced or marketed by them.

Financial Underwriters

21st Century Healthcare

AdvoCare International L.P.

Agilent Technologies, Inc.

Aloecorp, Inc.

Amen Clinics

Amway/Nutrilite Health Institute

Arbonne International

Arizona Nutritional Supplements

Artemis International, Inc.

Atrium Innovations

Aveda Corporation

Beachbody, LLC

BI Nutraceuticals


Bionorica SE


Botanical Liaisons

Bruker BioSpin


Cepham, Inc.

Chemi Nutra

CNCA Health

Complete Phytochemical Solutions

Crila Health

dicentra, Inc.

Doctor’s Best

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps

DolCas Biotech, LLC

Douglas Laboratories

Draco Natural Products

Emerson Ecologics

Enzymatic Therapy, Inc.

Ethical Naturals, Inc.

Eu Yan Sang International




Flavex Naturextrakte GmbH


Fruit d'Or

Gaia Herbs

GE Nutrients, Inc.

Global Health Industries

GNC, Inc.

Healthy Lifestyle Brands, LLC

Helios Corp.

Herb Pharm

Herbalife International, Inc.

Horphag Research


Indena USA, Inc.

Indfrag Limited

Ingredient Identity

Ixoreal Biomed, Inc.

Jarrow Formulas

Layn USA, Inc.


Markan Global Enterprises, Inc.

Martin Bauer, Inc.

MediHerb / Integria Healthcare

Metagenics, Inc.

Financial Underwriters

Natreon, Inc.


Natural Alternatives International, Inc.

Natural Factors Nutritional Products, Inc.
   /Bioclinic Naturals

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage

Natural Remedies Pvt. Ltd.

Nature's Sunshine Products

Nature's Way


Naturex, Inc.

NBTY, Inc.

New Chapter, Inc.

The New Frontier Foundation Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation

Ningbo Greenhealth Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Novel Ingredients

NOW Foods

Nu Skin Enterprises/Pharmanex

Nutraceuticals Corp.

Organic India

Ortho Molecular Products

Pacific Nutritional Inc.

Paragon Laboratories

Pathway International Pty Limited

Perrigo Company

Pharmatoka SAS

Pharmavite, LLC

Phoenix Formulations

PLT Health Solutions, Inc.

Polyphenolics, Division of Constellation Brands, Inc.

Pure Encapsulations

Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems

RFI Ingredients, LLC

Rosenbush and Zimmerman Family Fund

Sabinsa Corporation

Schwabe North America


SFI Flordis

Shaklee Corp.

Standard Process, Inc.

Strategic Sourcing, Inc.

Thorne Research, Inc.

Tishcon Corp.

Traditional Medicinals, Inc.

TSI Group


Univera, Inc.

Valensa International

V.D.F. FutureCeuticals

Verdure Sciences

Vitamin Shoppe

VitaQuest International

Whole Foods Market

Trade Associations

American Herbal Products Association (US)

Australian Self Medication Industry (Australia)

Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (Australia)

British Herbal Medicine Association (UK)

Canadian Health Food Association (Canada)

Complementary Medicines Australia (Australia)

Consumer Healthcare Products Association (US)

Council for Responsible Nutrition (US)

International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA)

National Animal Supplement Council (US)

Natural Products Association (US)

Natural Products New Zealand (NZ)

United Natural Products Alliance (US)

Nonprofit/Professional Associations

Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine

American Association of Naturopathic Physicians

American Herbalists Guild

American Society of Pharmacognosy

AOAC International

Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia Convention of the United States
Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium

Irish Register of Herbalists (IRE)

National Institute of Medical Herbalists (UK)

Natural Health Products Research Society of Canada (NHPRS Canada)

Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute

Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA)


Bastyr University

Boucher Institute for Naturopathic Medicine

Center for Natural Products Technologies, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois-Chicago

Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Chinese Medicine

National College of Natural Medicine

Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine
Third-Party Analytical Laboratories

Alkemist Labs

AuthenTechnologies LLC

Bent Creek Institute

BotaniCert (France)

British Columbia Institute of Technology


Covance Laboratories

Creative Accord, LLC

Eurofins Scientific Inc.

Flora Research Labs

NSF International

PhytoLab (Germany)

Spectrix Labs

Tampa Bay Analytical


Alive Publishing Group

Delicious Living


Holistic Primary Care

Informa Exhibitions US

Integrator Blog

Media Relations, Inc.

Modern Healthcare Practitioner

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Natural Medicine Journal

Natural Products INSIDER


Nutraceuticals World


Nutrition Business Journal

Nutrition Industry Executive

Nutritional Outlook

Vitamin Retailer

WholeFoods Magazine


Law Firms & Regulatory Consultants

Amin Talati & Upadhye, LLC

Greenberg Traurig, LLP (James Prochnow)

Law Office of Holly Bayne, P.C.

Robert Forbes & Associates

Susan Brienza, LLC

Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, LLP

Contract Research Organizations

KGK Synergize