Physico-chemical analyses and control of medicinal and aromatic plants

ALL PHYTO®, a phytochemistry expert, offers its customers an unrivalled portfolio of more than 500 appropriate physico-chemical analysis methods to study the identity, purity, composition, authenticity and origin of products based on medicinal plants and guarantee their safety. The reliability and accuracy of the analytical data enable our customers to take the appropriate decisions in light of the risks involved and meet the ever stricter quality and safety standards and the requirements of regulatory authorities around the world.


Quality control and compliance analysis

Rigorous tests and assays according to medicinal plant pharmacopoeias are central to our profession. That is why our control laboratory analyses natural products containing medicinal plants.

Our analytical solutions: 

Physico-chemical tests and analyses according to the national and international pharmacopoeias (European Pharmacopoeia, French Pharmacopoeia, USP, Chinese Pharmacopoeia, Indian Pharmacopoeia, etc.), plant-based medicinal product monographs in accordance with the MA (Marketing Authorization) file or customer monographs.

Assay of markers and substances to be monitored

Assay is a technique which is used to determine the level of one or more compounds in a medicinal plant to validate the quantity of an active principle and/or of a regulated and/or undesirable substance in order to check the effectiveness and safety of a product based on medicinal plants.

Our analytical solutions: 

  • Specific internal methods developed by the laboratory,
  • Official methods (National and/or international pharmacopoeias).
  • Analysis of the bioactive compounds in your ingredients, foodstuffs, dietary supplements and plant-based medicinal products (polyphenols, resveratrol, alkaloids, polycosanols, epigallocatechin gallate, tannins, etc.),
  • Analysis of specific molecules (stevioside, valerenic acid, ginsenosides, monacolin K, etc.),
  • Measurement of antioxidant power by in vitro tests (FRAP method, FRAP value).

Botanical identification

Standardization of medicinal and aromatic plants requires, first and foremost, precise botanical identification of the plant in order to determine the varietal purity. The botanical identity is the scientific name of the medicinal and/or aromatic plant. It must be defined precisely by the botanical scientific name according to the Linnaean rules. The international name of a plant, expressed in Latin, comprises the genus name followed by the species name together with the initial or the abbreviation of the botanist who first described the plant in question. If necessary, it is complemented by that of the sub-species or the variety. The botanical family is generally described. The precision of this name is important and differences in chemical composition may appear depending on the botanical origin. The local name and the common name in French, if they exist, will also be recorded. Any other relevant information, such as the cultivar, the ecotype, the chemotype or the phenotype, may also be noted depending on the case.

Our analytical solutions:

The botanical identification or varietal purity analysis is carried out by means of organoleptic tests, macroscopic and microscopic observations, chemical tests and chromatographic techniques (TLC, HPTLC, HPLC and GPC) according to the standards of the national and/or international pharmacopoeias. This service can be performed on samples of the raw material before any processing liable to destroy the characteristic elements of the plant-based drug.

Detection of falsifications, substitutions and adulterations

The requirement in terms of quality assurance in the field of medicinal and aromatic plants is the correct botanical variety. This essential rule can be broken by falsification, adulterations and substitutions in marketing or insufficient knowledge during gathering or cultivation. The literature confirms that these two causes lead to serious poisoning with often irreparable consequences. Examples of falsification, adulteration and contamination of natural health products have been recorded all over the world.

The safety and quality of medicinal plants and finished products containing natural substances depend on intrinsic (genetic) factors or external factors (environment, methods of gathering, cultivation, harvesting, treatment after harvesting, transport and storage). Medicinal or aromatic plants gathered in the wild or cultivated may be contaminated by other species or parts of plants following errors in determination, accidental contamination or adulteration, which can affect the safety of the products. The guarantee of botanical origin of plant-based drugs is a necessity to ensure constant quality of plant-based medicinal products and food supplements.

Our analytical solutions:

La detection of falsifications, substitutions and adulterations is carried out by means of organoleptic tests, macroscopic and microscopic observations and chromatographic techniques (Metabolomic “fingerprinting”): TLC, HPTLC, HPLC, etc. according to the standards of the national and/or international pharmacopoeias. This service can be performed on samples of the raw material before any processing liable to destroy the characteristic elements of the plant-based drug.

Determination of foreign elements and foreign materials

With purity tests, we determine for example whether a batch or a sample of a plant-based drug is free of foreign elements and foreign bodies. The determination of the foreign elements is described in the national and/or international pharmacopoeias.

The ALL PHYTO® team identifies the organic and inorganic constituents of the foreign elements of each medicinal and aromatic plant (table 1):

  • Parts of the organ which are not part of the plant-based drug, other than those mentioned in the definition and the description of the monograph and for which a limit is prescribed,
  • All the organs other than those named in the definition and the description,
  • Materials not from the original plant,
  • Moulds, insects or other contaminants of animal origin (Mammalian excreta),
  • Other foreign bodies.

Table 1: Nature of foreign elements

FOREIGN ORGANS Come from the same plant source, but do not correspond to the plant-based drug (e.g. presence of fruit when the plant-based drug is the flower, stalk fragments accompanying blanched leaves, etc.).
MINERAL and/or ORGANIC FOREIGN MATERIALS Materials of mineral origin not from the same source (e.g. stones, fibres, snail shells, sand, earth, etc.)
ANIMAL FOREIGN MATERIALS Foreign elements such as various fragments of insects, animal hairs, bird feathers and excrement
VEGETABLE FOREIGN MATERIALS Materials of plant origin not from the same source (e.g. Weed seeds, falsification, dangerous plants, etc.)

Our analytical solutions:

  • Detection of weeds and invasive plant species (aboveground part, roots, seeds, etc.),
  • Detection of foreign elements and foreign bodies in medicinal and aromatic plants which may result from contamination and/or incorrect practices at several steps in the medicinal plant value chain,
  • Detection of “Mammalian excreta” (ASTA’s Cleanliness specifications For Spices, Seeds and Herbs, 1999, Internal methods).

Detection of contaminants

Contaminant analysis enables the various players in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and food product chain to react as quickly as possible in the event of product contamination. ALL PHYTO® offers you a very complete range of contaminant and undesirable substance analyses.

Our analytical solutions:

Whatever the diversity of your control plan for contaminant detection, ALL PHYTO® will be able to offer you an appropriate and complete solution.

Detection of contaminants

Heavy metals

Arsenic and other heavy metals such as cadmium, lead or mercury can damage consumers’ health, hence the importance of controlling their presence in products based on medicinal and aromatic plants. EC regulation no. 1881/2006 defines the maximum levels in foodstuffs. EC regulation no. 2015/1006, which amends regulation no. 1881/2006, now defines the maximum levels for inorganic arsenic in rice. ALL PHYTO® makes it possible to meet all the European requirements defined by regulations RE 1881/2006 and RE 396/2005 for all heavy metals and metallic trace elements.

Our analytical solutions: 

ALL PHYTO® quantifies heavy metals: arsenic, cadmium, copper, mercury, lead, aluminium, selenium, etc.

Detection of contaminants


Mycotoxins are toxic substances which can synthesize certain types of moulds present in medicinal and aromatic plants. The effects caused by these mycotoxins and their metabolites can be dangerous for man. 

Our analytical solutions:

(EC) regulation 1881/2006 imposes maximum limits not to be exceeded and to assist you, ALL PHYTO® offers you detection and quantification of numerous mycotoxins:

  • Ochratoxin A
  • Aflatoxin (B1/B2, G1/G2, M1/M2)
  • Patulin
  • Etc.

Detection of contaminants


Phytosanitary products (Pesticides, Herbicides, etc.) can enter the body via the food chain and the water cycle, and represent a health hazard. To protect the consumer, numerous regulations have been introduced which define Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) in products intended for human and animal food. Compliance with these standards is a prerequisite for the marketing of plant-based products and plant-based drugs

Our analytical solutions:

  • Multiresidue pesticide analyses by GC-MS/MS and LC-MS/MS screening,
  • Customized pesticide analyses according to “your own specifications or the crop technical itinerary”,
  • Regulatory pesticide analyses: EU pharmacopoeia, US pharmacopoeia, EC regulation 396/2005, Child Food Regulations EC 2006/125 and EC 2006/141,
  • Monoresidue pesticide analyses in response to European alerts.

Detection of contaminants


Measurement of radioactivity in medicinal and aromatic plants

ALL PHYTO® has set up an offer for determination of radioactivity on medicinal and agri-food plants.

Our analytical solutions:

  • Cesium 137
  • Cesium 138

Detection of contaminants

Other contaminants

ALL PHYTO® is continually expanding its range for detection of specific contaminants. In addition to the main contaminant analysis families, ALL PHYTO® can offer you full handling of your control plan in partnership with other service providers.

Our analytical solutions:

  • Assay of tropanolic and pyrizidinolic alkaloids (Medicinal plants containing alkaloids)
  • Detection of quaternary ammonium compounds in citrus extracts
  • Detection of chemical colouring agents in aromatics (turmeric, peppers, saffron, etc.)

Fraud analysis

ALL PHYTO®’s expertise enables you to detect fraud in your natural ingredients.

Our analytical solutions:

The techniques developed by ALL PHYTO® can assist you in fraud detection.

Microbiological Analysis

To meet the requirements of European regulations (EC) no. 852/2004, (EC) no. 853/2004 and (EC) no.2073/2005, ALL PHYTO® offers a sampling and microbiological analysis service to check the compliance of your samples.

ALL PHYTO® carries out microbiological analyses. The microbiological analysis services are:

  • Microbiological analysis for health control of products according to the pharmacopoeia and AFNOR protocols,
  • Analysis of compliance with regulations,
  • Analysis of compliance with pharmacopoeia requirements.