Table_6_Assesment of Adulterated Traditional Chinese Medicines in China: 2003-2017.xlsx

Traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs) represent one form of complementary and alternative medicine. The popularity and complexity in production make them attractive and vulnerable to adulteration in stages ranging from planting to production. Adulteration refers to the addition of extraneous, improper, or inferior ingredients that should not be present in TCMs. To detect and combat adulterated TCMs, supplementary testing methods (STMs), which expand the capability of routine testing standards, have been applied in China since 2003. From 2003 to 2017, a total of 184 STMs for TCMs were approved by the Chinese national drug regulatory authority. By assessing these STMs, this research intends to identify those TCMs vulnerable to adulteration, to list common adulterants, and to characterize the techniques of analysis. The results show that adulteration of TCMs can be classified into three main categories: the addition of undeclared drugs/chemical substances, substitution with non-drug components, and the addition of foreign non-drug materials. The top five therapeutic areas of TCMs vulnerable to adulteration are diabetes, calm and sleep, sexual dysfunction, pain relief, and rheumatism. A total of 166 adulterants were detected in the adulterated TCM preparations and herbal products studied here, with 158 adulterants in TCM preparations and 43 in herbal products, with 35 adulterants in common. Each STM consists of different pharmaceutical analysis techniques, including tests for physical-chemical properties, chromatography, spectroscopic techniques, and mass spectrometry. The analytical methodology of STMs relies on the combination of these techniques, with HPLC ranking the highest percentage (76.1%) and physical-chemical techniques the lowest percentage (11.4%). This research shows that STMs have played a crucial role in combating adulterated TCMs. However, STMs represent merely a product testing-centered regulatory strategy. The inspection of cultivation and manufacturing processes should also be strengthened. More importantly, the awareness and self-discipline of TCM manufacturers in implementing good manufacturing practices and regulating the planting and cultivation of raw materials should be improved.