Botanical ingredients are high value products, which are used widely in phytomedicines, dietary/food supplements, functional foods, and cosmetics.  Published reports show that a proportion of these botanical ingredients and products are adulterated, and usually, such adulteration is carried out for financial gain, where ingredients are intentionally substituted, diluted, or “fortified” with undisclosed lower-cost ingredients. While some of the adulteration is easily detected with established laboratory assays, the adulterators frequently use sophisticated ways to mimic the visual aspects and chemical composition of the labelled botanical ingredient, in order to deceive the analytical methods that are used for authentication. This review surveys the most common adulterant used for each botanical, and the used approaches for botanical ingredient adulteration, as well as discussing the  appropriate test methods for the detection of the adulteration.

Botanical ingredients at risk of adulteration include, but are not limited to, the essential oils of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, Lamiaceae), rose (Rosa damascena, Rosaceae), sandalwood (Santalum album, Santalaceae), and tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia, Myrtaceae), plus the extracts of bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus, Ericaceae) fruit, cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon, Ericaceae) fruit, elder (Sambucus nigra, Viburnaceae) berry, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus, Araliaceae) root, ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba, Ginkgoaceae) leaf, grape (Vitis vinifera, Vitaceae) seed, saw palmetto (Serenoa repens, Arecaceae) fruit, St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum, Hypericaceae) herb, and turmeric (Curcuma longa, Zingiberaceae) root/rhizome.

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