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The application of medicinal plant drugs for curing has become popular again. The favourable effects of most of them have been examined and proven. Nevertheless, the beneficial properties of plants and extracts may be due to inorganic mineral elements besides organic constituents. Investigation of microelement content in plant drugs may be relevant for the determination of environmental relations. In pharmacological aspect microelement content in teas is essential. For plants, all extracts (teas, alcoholic extracts, etc.) prepared by divers ways (traditional-, microwave extraction, etc.) contain elements in different quantity. The comparison of microelement content of definite amount of tea consumed with Recommended Dietary Allowances, Dietary Reference Intake may give information on possible nutritional value.

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Chelidonii herba has long been known in herbal medicine for its choleretic, cholagogue, spasmolytic and antiviral activities. It is important to monitor the amount of mineral elements in Chelidonii herba preparations consumed mainly for their phytotherapeutical effects. In addition to organic compounds, dissoluble mineral elements in the teas and tinctures of herbs may also have a role in therapy. The concentration of 24 elements (Al, As, B, Ba, Ca, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Hg, K, Li, Mg, Mn, Mo, Na, Ni, P, Pb, S, Ti, V, Zn) in crude drugs (herb and root), in their aqueous solutions (infusion, decoction) and alcoholic extracts were studied by ICP-OES. The difference between the concentration of elements in extracts - except for copper, manganese and sodium - was highly significant. It has been found that the root contains higher concentrations of mineral elements except for boron, copper, phosphorus and sulphur. The infusion contained most elements in the highest concentration and proved to be the best source for obtaining minerals. The same tendency was observed in the case of dissolutions. In aqueous extracts, the dissolution of mineral elements was between 10% and 65% for most elements, especially for potassium (65%) and phosphorus (54%). The dissolution of mineral elements in the case of tinctures decreased with increasing alcohol concentration. It may be stated that the presence of macro- and microelements in extracts greatly contribute to their therapeutical value.

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Greater celandine ( Chelidonium majus L.) is used internally as a herbal remedy besides external applications. It was supposed that the elements besides organic compounds in greater celandine also have favourable effect as adjuvants, therefore, the aim of the study was to evaluate the bioavailability of the elements. The element transfer through the gastrointestinal system was measured by in vitro model from the pressed extract into buffer solutions with different pH (stomach pH=1.1, intestine pH=2.8, plasma pH=7.5). It was stated that the elements (Al, B, Ba, Ca, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, S, Zn) were able to be absorbed through the stomach-bowel system, since they passed through the membrane. The transfer of the elements from the latex into the different buffer solutions greatly depends on the element and the pH of applied buffer solution. The transfer of the elements from the latex ranged between 0.9% (Ca into buffer solution pH=7.5) and 59.3% (B into buffer solution pH=2.8). The transfer of the highest amount of elements was observed in the case of buffer solution pH=2.8, and less transferable elements were Ca with 33.64% and Mg with 33.89% of the initial value. On the basis of results, it can be stated that the elements are able to transfer through the gastrointestinal system and may have adjuvant effects.

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Fennel ( Foeniculum vulgare ) is frequently used for making tea and it is also applied as spice. Since the digestion of oils is relatively difficult and the undigested oil may greatly alter the element data, three different acid mixtures (nitric acid and hydrogen peroxide; nitric acid, hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide; nitric acid, hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid) were tested for determination of element content in fennel. Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) and polarography were applied for the determination of elements (Al, Ba, Ca, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Ni, P, S, Se and Zn). The extraction was realised by using microwave digestion technique under low and high pressure. Lucerna p-alfalfa as reference material was used for the accuracy and precision of the analytical procedures. According to the results, it can be stated that the digestion of medicinal plants containing oil could be realised by aqua regia.

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In vitro investigations for the antioxidant and free radical scavenging activity of Myrtilli folium-, Phaseoli fructus sine seminibus- and a drug mixture (Equiseti herba, Myrtilli folium, Phaseoli fructus sine seminibus, Urticae folium) extracts showed antioxidant (LPO inhibitory and chain-breaking antioxidant) activity and free radical (superoxide anion and hydroxyl radical) scavenging effect. The extracts inhibited lipid peroxidation induced enzymatically by adding NADPH and non-enzymatically by adding Fe2+ in brain microsomes and in brain homogenates, respectively. The extracts reduced the stable free radical 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), which showed chain-breaking antioxidant activity. The extracts scavenged superoxide radicals (O2-·) by inhibiting the reduction of nitro blue tetrazolium evoked by phenazine methosulphate. In addition, the extracts inhibited Fenton-reagent (Fe2+ and H2O2) induced deoxyribose degradation, therefore, it was concluded that the extracts have hydroxyl radical (OH·) scavenging property.

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Acta Alimentaria
Authors: É. Szőke, E. Máday, K. Szentmihályi, M. Then, and É. Szőke
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Herbal teas may be effective in adjuvant therapy for the prevention of complications of diabetes mellitus II. Agrimoniae herba, Betulae folium, Bursae pastoris herba, Foenigraeci semen, Galegae herba, Maydis stigma, Taraxaci radix, Phaseoli fructus sine seminibus, Urticae folium, and their teas were analysed by ICP-OES for element content. Concentration of the elements of crude drug samples obtained are in good agreement with the average concentrations of plants, although some significantly high concentration has been found for manganese (893 mg kg-1), zinc (275 mg kg-1) and iron (492 mg kg-1) in Betulae folium, for copper (41.2 mg kg-1) in Galegae herba, for iron (2692 mg kg-1) in Taraxaci radix, for calcium (41210 mg kg-1) and magnesium (6275 mg kg-1) in Urticae folium. The common characteristic feature of crude drugs is the relatively high concentration of chromium (0.8-16.3 mg kg-1). Ion concentrations of teas are relatively low. The quantities of metal ions do not cover the daily needs, nevertheless, they may be important as food supplements. According to U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA), the following teas are good sources: Agrimoniae herba for chromium, Betulae folium for manganese, Taraxaci radix for copper and chromium, Urticae folium for potassium and calcium. The dissolution of elements from plant drugs varies: potassium (22.5-74.7%), sodium (1.9-60.5%), calcium (6.6-28.1%), magnesium (12.3-52.5%) and copper (3.7-51.4%) are readily dissolved. The dissolution of manganese (6.8-32.3%) and of zinc (0-31%) is lower. The dissolution of chromium from Agrimoniae herba (9.55%) is significantly higher, while the dissolution ranges from other plant drugs are between 0-5.9%.

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