Radix Codonopsis (Dangshen) is a famous traditional Chinese medicine and has long been used for replenishing energy deficiency, strengthening the immune system, lowering blood pressure and improving appetite in China, Japan and Korea. A highly specific quantification method using 1H NMR has been developed for the simultaneous determination of novel quaternary ammonium alkaloids codotubulosine A and B, adenosine and 5-(hydroxymethyl)furfural in Radix Codonopsis materials Codonopsis pilosula, C. pilosula var. modesta, C. tangshen, C. tubulosa, C. subglobosa, C. clematidea, C. lanceolota and Campanumoea javanica collected from different regions of China and Taiwan. A solid-phase extraction with C-18 cartridge followed by elution with water can easily remove sugars the major components that may affect the determination of target constituents. In the 1H NMR spectrum, the signals of N-CH3 of codotubulosine A (δ 2.75) and B (δ 2.83), H-8 of adenosine (δ 8.15), and CHO signal of 5-(hydroxymethyl)furfural (δ 9.49) are well separated from other signals in [2H4]methanol. The quantity of the compounds was calculated by the relative ratio of the integral values of the target peaks of each compound to the known amount of internal standard pyrazine. The described NMR method is found to be relatively simple, specific, precise and accurate for the quality control of Radix Codonopsis herbs and no reference compounds are required for calibration curves, in comparison to conventional HPLC methods, for instance.
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