Monday, 26 September 2016

A phytochemical comparison of saw palmetto products using gas chromatography and (1) H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy metabolomic profiling

2014 Jun;66(6):811-22. doi: 10.1111/jphp.12198. Epub 2014 Jan 13.


Author information

  • 1Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, University of London, London, UK.



Preparations containing saw palmetto berries are used in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). There are many products on the market, and relatively little is known about their chemical variability and specifically the composition and quality of different saw palmetto products notwithstanding that in 2000, an international consultation paper from the major urological associations from the five continents on treatments for BPH demanded further research on this topic. Here, we compare two analytical approaches and characterise 57 different saw palmetto products.


An established method - gas chromatography - was used for the quantification of nine fatty acids, while a novel approach of metabolomic profiling using (1) H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy was used as a fingerprinting tool to assess the overall composition of the extracts.


The phytochemical analysis determining the fatty acids showed a high level of heterogeneity of the different products in the total amount and of nine single fatty acids. A robust and reproducible (1) H NMR spectroscopy method was established, and the results showed that it was possible to statistically differentiate between saw palmetto products that had been extracted under different conditions but not between products that used a similar extraction method. Principal component analysis was able to determine those products that had significantly different metabolites.


The metabolomic approach developed offers novel opportunities for quality control along the value chain of saw palmetto and needs to be followed further, as with this method, the complexity of a herbal extract can be better assessed than with the analysis of a single group of constituents.
© 2014 The Authors. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Pharmaceutical Society.


1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy; fatty acids; gas chromatography; metabolomics; saw palmetto
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article