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Medicines 2017, 4(1), 14;

Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels: Influence of Value Chain on Quality Criteria and Marker Compounds Ferulic Acid and Z-Ligustilide

Institute of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, University of Zurich, Zollikerstrasse 107, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland
Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 132, Lanhei Road, Kunming 650201, Yunnan, China
CAMAG Laboratory, Sonnenmattstrasse 11, 4132 Muttenz, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: João Rocha
Received: 23 December 2016 / Revised: 21 February 2017 / Accepted: 24 February 2017 / Published: 14 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Background: Dang gui (Apiaceae; Angelica sinensis radix) is among the most often used Chinese medicinal plants. However, hardly anything is known about its value chain and its influence on the main marker compounds of the drug. The aim of this study is to investigate the value chain of dang gui in Gansu and Yunnan, and the analysis of the marker compounds ferulic acid and Z-ligustilide concentration in relation to quality criteria such as the production area and size of the roots. Methods: During six months of field research in China, semi-structured interviews with various stakeholders of the value chain were undertaken and plant material was collected. High-performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC) was used for semi-quantitative analysis of ferulic acid and Z-ligustilide. Results: Small-scale household cultivation prevails and in Gansu—in contrast to Yunnan—the cultivation of dang gui is often the main income source of farmers. Farmers and dealers use size and odor of the root as main quality criteria. For Chinese medicine doctors, Gansu as the production area is the main criterion. Higher amounts of ferulic acid in plant material from Yunnan compared to Gansu were found. Additionally, a negative relation of root length with both ferulic acid and Z-ligustilide as well as head diameter with ferulic acid were found. Conclusions: HPTLC is a valid method for semi-quantitative analysis of the marker compounds of dang gui. However, the two main marker compounds cannot explain why size and smell of the root or production area are seen as quality criteria. This hints at the inherent difficulty to correlate quality notions of medicinal plants with specific chemical compounds. With respect to this, more attention should be paid to quality in terms of cultivation and processing techniques. View Full-Text
Keywords: Angelica sinensis; Chinese medicine; dang gui; ethnobotany; Gansu; medicinal plants; TCM; Yunnan Angelica sinensis; Chinese medicine; dang gui; ethnobotany; Gansu; medicinal plants; TCM; Yunnan

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Giacomelli, N.; Yongping, Y.; Huber, F.K.; Ankli, A.; Weckerle, C.S. Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels: Influence of Value Chain on Quality Criteria and Marker Compounds Ferulic Acid and Z-Ligustilide. Medicines 2017, 4, 14.

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