Vol.3, No.7, 551-555 (2011) Natural Science
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
Analysis of macro and micro nutrients in some Indian
medicinal herbs grown in Jaunpur (u.p.) soil
Arun Kumar1, Ram Prakash Singh1, Narendra Pal Singh2*
1Department of Chemistry, Hindu P.G. College, Zamania Ghazipur, India;
2Institute of Pharmacy, V.B.S. Purvanchal University, Jaunpur, India; *Corresponding Author: arun.150476@gmail.com
Received 2 May, 2011; revised 30 May, 2011; accepted 7 June, 2011.
Concept of trace elements being “the Inorganic
Switches” has evolved during the last several
decades. Ayurveda, the traditional Indian me-
dicinal system also emphasises the importance
of minor and trace elements in human health
and disease. To evaluate elemental contents of
some commonly used as health promoter and
fever, 5 medicine herbs (stems) namely Guduchi,
Vach, Mulahati, Joytishmati and Vidhara have
been analyzed for four minor (Na, K, Mg and Ca)
and eight trace elements (Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu,
Zn and Cd) by atomic absorption spectrometry
and flame photometry. Their accuracy was mea-
sured by replicate analyses. In general, ele-
mental contents were found in varying amounts
with large range. It is observed that many of
medicinal herbs are enriched in one or more
elements. Since these elements are bioavailable
in natural form, probably in combination with
organic constituents, these are likely to be eas-
ily assimilated by human bodies. Besides them,
two toxic elements Ni and Cd were also found in
insignificant amounts as these are likely to have
originated from environmental contamination.
Keywords: Sample Used as Health Promoter and
Fever; Medicinal Herbs in Jaunpur
There are ample evidences of herbs being used in the
treatment of diseases and for revitalising body system in
almost all ancient civilizations [1-5]. Plants were the
mainstay of many medicines having mystical and almost
super natural healing power. There are many references
to the curative properties of several herbs in the ancient
Indian literature, Rigveda, though a more detailed
amount is found in the Atharvaveda from where Ay-
urveda, the Indian traditional health care system (ayus =
life, veda = knowledge, meaning science of life) origi-
nated. Fairly compreshensive information about herbs
has been recorded [6,7] in two treatises Charak Samhita
and Shusruta Samhita—a base for Ayurvedic system of
medicine. Looking to the importance of herbs, A Com-
pendium of Indian Medicinal Plants in six volumes has
been published [8]. Herbs play a significant role in mod-
ern times, when the damaging effects of food processing
and over medication have assumed alarming proportions.
These are now being increasingly used in cosmetics,
foods as well as alternative medicine [9]. Besides lipids,
proteins and carbohydrates required for human growth,
supply of optimum quantities of inorganic micronutri-
ents is also essential [10,11]. Several micronutrients such
as Cr, Mn, Fe, Cu and Zn etc., constitute a small fraction
of our diet and play an important role in metabolic proc-
esses. Their excess or deficiency may disturb normal
biochemical functions of the body [12]. Two main crite-
ria considered for essentiality of elements are: first, its
absence from diet results in departure from normal
growth and metabolism; and second, the replacement of
an element may suppress pathological symptoms. The
composition of biological systems is so complex that the
trace elements are totally masked by major constituents,
and hence difficult to determine [13]. Some techniques,
widely used in trace element analysis [14] are atomic
absorption spectrophotometry (AAS), energy dispersive
X-ray fluorescence [15] (EDXRF), electro thermal ato-
mic absorption spectrometry [16] (ETAAS), inductively
coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES)
and mass spectrometry [17] (ICP-MS). Each one of
these has one’s own advantages and limitations with
regard to accuracy, precision, sensitivity and specificity.
The advent of ICP-AES and ICP-MS all with multi-
element capabilities has slowed the AAS/AES market.
However, AAS/AES technology is deeply entrenched in
the field of analytical chemistry.
Several workers from different countries have re-
ported the analysis of medicinal herbs of their respective
A. Kumar et al. / Natural Science 3 (2011) 551-555
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
countries. Lin et al. [18] detected 32 elements in 16 me-
dicinal herbs by ICP-AES. Zhang et al. [19] employing
ICP-AES for detecting major, minor and trace elements
in 26 Chinese traditional drugs and compare their results
with those obtained by AAS and NAA. Fan et al. [20]
detected Cu, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cr, Mo, Se, B, K, Ca, Mg, F,
Cl in 13 diverse drugs by mean of AAS and HPLC
methods. Shuping and Chen [21] detected Zn, Fe, Cu, Cr,
Co, Ni, Mo, Sr, Cd and Br in seven medicinal herbs by
employing ICP-AES. Yuan [22] detected 16 elements in
6 Traditional Chinese Medicines by AAS. Chen et al.
[23] and Xu et al. [24] determined several elements in
TCMs by AAS. Wang et al. [25] used ICP-MS for de-
termined metal contents in several TCMs. Zhang [26]
employed FAAS for determining Zn, Mn and Cu in chi-
nese medicinal herbs and drugs used in treatment of
kidney diseases. Zhang et al. [27] determined 21 trace
elements in 10 TCM samples by employing flame and
graphite furnace AAS techniques. Chen et al. [28] de-
termined Ti, Cu, Mn, Cr and Cd in chinese medicines by
using fluorination assisted electrothermal vaporisation
ICP-AES. Liu et al. [29,30] determined Co, Mn, Cu and
Ni in TCM and compare their results with those obtained
by AAS and spectrophotometry. Dong[31] employed
AAS for determining Cu, Cr, Cd, Pb, As, Sb and Sn in
donkey hide gelatin. Qiao et al. [32] determined 20 ele-
ments in TCM by employing XRF method. Yu and Mo
employed extraction flame AAS for determining [33] Ge
in TCM and foods. Hua et al. [34] determined Zn, Cd,
Na and K in 11 kidney tonics based on TCM. Chuang et
al. [35] used graphite furnace AAS for determining Pb
and Cd in crude drugs. Lu et al. [36] determined As and
Pb in TCM by spectrophotometric method. Jain et al.
[37,38] reported AAS and flame photometric determina-
tion of 19 elements in several medicinal plants. Saily et
al. [39,40] analyzed about 40 medicinal plants for 18
elements. It has been reported that Na, Mg, Ca, Cr, Mn,
Fe, Co and Zn contents were common in many medici-
nal plants used for the treatment of asthama, rheumatism,
diarrhoea etc. Further Sondhi et al. [41-43] have deter-
mined 20 elements in Ayurvedic bhasmas (medicine)
used for the treatment of bronchitis, kidney and bladder
disorder, skin diseases and Gonorrhoea by employing
AAS, ICP- AES and flame photometer.
In the present study we have attempted to analyse
specific parts of 5 herbal medicines which are often
recommended as health promoter and fever. Nomencla-
ture and uses of medicinal herbs analyzed in this study
are listed in Table 1.
2.1. Sampling
All the medicinal herbs were procured from the local
Table 1. Some characteristics of herbal medicines analyzed in
this study.
Chronicfever, Jaundice,
Stomachincand digestive, milk
elleviation, splenomegaly,
Astringent, health promotive,
VACH (Stem)Acorus
Insanity Epilepsy, dry cough,
Diarrhoea, Pimples of Puberty,
Anti-neuralgic, sharp intellect and
sweet voice
Hepatospleenomegaly, Injury,
Swelling, Rhumatism Gastric ulser,
Blood disorder, Bronchetis, Cough,
Asthama, Dysphonia, Fever,
Veneral diseases, T.B., Night fall,
Skin diseases, Stomachic
Brain tonic, Nervine tonic,
Analgesic Cardiac problem
Diuretic, Fever, Spleenomegaly,
Constipation Cardiac disorder, milk
alleviator, Skin deceases
market in Jaunpur (U.P.) cropped locally through dealers
of herbal medicines. These were cleaned and then swiped
to remove all the dust. These were further washed with
distilled water and then afterwards swiped with tissue
paper. The plant material was first dried in an oven and
then dried under IR Lamp at temperature <70˚C. The
dried plant material was grounded to a fine powder (100
mesh) in an agate mortar. The powdered samples were
stored in pre-cleaned polyethylene vials and handled
with extreme care in a glove box to avoid contamination.
Synthetic multielemental standards were prepared by
spiking 2 - 5 μg amounts of Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn,
Cd, Ca, Mg, Na and K in aqueous solution of their re-
spective AR/high purity grade salts.
2.2. AAS Measurements
For the analysis of Mg, Ca, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu,
Zn and Cd by AAS method, about 2 g of each sample
were accurately weighed and digested in 5:1 mixture of
nitric acid and perchloric acid [44]. After digestion, two
to three drops of HCl was added and the solution was
made up to 25 mL., Ca, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, Ni
and Zn were determined by Atomic Absorption Spec-
trophotometer (GBC Avanta, Australia) using a mixture
acetylene-air flame. The wavelength and senstivities for
these elements were 422.7 nm and 4 μg/g; 228.8 nm and
1.5 μg/g, 240.7 nm and 7 μg/g; 357.9 nm and 4 μg/g;
324.8 nm and 4 μg/g; 248.3 nm and 5 μg/g; 285.2 nm
and 0.3 μg/g; 279.5 nm and 2.5 μg/g; 232.0 nm and 7.0
μg/g and 213.9 nm and 1.0 μg/g respectively. The in-
A. Kumar et al. / Natural Science 3 (2011) 551-555
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
strument was precalibrated using high purity grade salts
of respective elements.
Elemental concentrations in 5 medicinal herbs (stems)
were measured by relative method of AAS by using
RMs and multielemental standards as comparators. Only
if the values for elemental concentrations in RMs matched
well within ±10% of the certified values, the values for
sample were considered. These are listed in Tables 2.
Also included in the same tables are our data for partici-
pation in the analysis of dipleted Pine Needle (SRM
1575a). In each case triplicate analyses were made using
100 mg each. It was observed that standard deviations
for most elements were small suggesting a good preci-
sion. On the basis of good agreement, it is presumed that
out values are listed in Tables 2 should be accurate and
precise within ±10%. In order to compare the mean ele-
mental concentrations of 5 medicinal herbs (stems) for
Na, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Cu, Mn, Cr, Zn and Co are plotted in
Figure 1. The herbs of Jaunpur origin are found to con-
tain some rare elements in amounts larger than other
A perusal of data in Table 2 shows that no single herb
is enriched in all the elements. The electrolytic elements
Na and K responsible for maintaining normal fluid bal-
ance inside and outside cells are generally found at mi-
nor and major concentration levels respectively. All the
samples have shown much higher concentration of K by
up to an order of magnitude compared to that of Na.
The analysis of selected herbs leads to the following
1) Guduchi: The stem of this herb contains Na
(0.120), K (0.50), Ca (16.0), Mg (3.1) in mg/g and Fe
(1300), Cr (2.5), Mn (130), Co (1.50), Cu (2.0), Zn (8.6),
Ni (41) and Cd (1.3) μg/g. Other plant organs were not
analysed as they have negligible medicinal significance.
2) Vach: The stem of this herb contains Na (0.370), K
(2.50), Ca (11.0), Mg (5.7) in mg/g and Fe (700), Cr
(2.5), Mn (100), Co (4.0), Cu (4.0), Zn (9.0), Ni (40) and
Cd (0.4) μg/g. Other plant organs were not analysed as
they have negligible medicinal significance.
3) Mulahati: The stem of this herb contains Na
(0.370), K (0.50), Ca (15.6), Mg (3.6) in mg/g and Fe
(3500), Cr (1.0), Mn (67), Co (4.20), Cu (1.0), Zn (8.6),
Ni (26) and Cd (1.2) μg/g. Other plant organs were not
analysed as they have negligible medicinal significance.
4) Joytishmati: The stem of this herb contains Na
(0.120), K (0.005), Ca (19.2), Mg (4.1) in mg/g and Fe
(1750), Cr (4.0), Mn (13), Co (2.2), Cu (5.6), Zn (7.1),
Ni (42) and Cd (0.4) μg/g. Other plant organs were not
analysed as they have negligible medicinal significance.
5) Vidhara: The stem of this herb contains Na (0.125),
Table 2. Elemental concentrations in stems of medicinal
SRM Pine
VidharaMulahati Vach GuduchiJoyti-
- 0.1250.370 0.370 0.1200.120
(3.70 ± 0.20)0.050.50 2.50 0.50 0.005
(4.10 ± 0.20)14.415.6 11.0 16.0 19.2
- 4.0 3.6 5.7 2.1 4.1
(200 ± 10)500 3500 700 13001750
(3.0 ± 0.3)3.0 1.0 2.5 2.5 4.0
(675 ± 15)16 67 100 130 13
(0.10) 0.704.20 4.0 1.50 2.2
(3.0 ± 0.3)2.0 1.0 4.0 2.0 5.6
- 1.5 8.6 9.0 8.6 7.1
(3.5) 27 26 40 41 42
(<0.5) 0.8 1.2 0.4 1.3 0.4
Figure 1. Comparison of elemental contents (range and me-
dian values) in medicinal herbs. Note: In Parenthesis are given
certified values from literature.
K (0.05), Ca (14.4), Mg (4.0) in mg/g and Fe (500), Cr
(3.0), Mn (16), Co (0.70), Cu (2.0), Zn (1.5), Ni (27) and
Cd (0.8) μg/g. Other plant organs were not analysed as
A. Kumar et al. / Natural Science 3 (2011) 551-555
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
they have negligible medicinal significance.
Vach has highest contents of Na, K, Mg, Cr, Co, Cu
and Zn. It has intellect promoting property and quite
often used for removing pimples of puberty as it allevi-
ates an sanity and epilepsy. Its organic constituents are a
saryl aldehyde, acorin, caffeine and eugenol. Probably
these elements may be associated with these organic
constituents making them available in the bioavailable
form. Yastimadhu commonly called Mulahati in Hindi
has highest contents of Na, Ca, Fe, Mn, Co, Cu and Zn.
This is sweet in taste and very often used in hyperacidity,
peptic ulcer, anaemia, and cough. Its main constituents
are glycyrrhizins and a glycoside called isoliqiritin. Joy-
tishmati has very high contents of Ca, Fe, Cu and Zn. It
is quite useful as analgesic and cardiac problem. Gudu-
chi has highest content of Fe, Mn and Zn. It is used in
chronic fever, jaundice and milk elevation. Vidhra has
very highest content of Fe, Ni, Mn and Ca. It is quite
useful in constipation, milk elevation and skin diseases.
The accountability of different components for medici-
nal potency may be a search light for physicians [45] and
dieticians [46,47].
Five herbal medicines (stems) commonly used as
health promoter and fever have been analyzed for 10
essential nutrients (Na, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Cr, Mn, Co, Cu
and Zn) and 2 toxic elements (Ni and Cd) by flame pho-
tometry and AAS. The elemental data should is reliable
within ±10%. On the basis of elemental data in 5 me-
dicinal herbs commonly used as health promoter and
fever following conclusion may be drawn:
(1) Different parts of medicinal plants are enriched in
some or other nutrient elements specially for Ca, Fe, Mn,
Cu and Zn.
(2) No particular plant is enriched in all the elements.
(3) In general iron is enriched in all the medicinal
herbs as there are used as brain tonics.
(4) Elemental contents of environmental contaminants
are minimal so as not to cause any harm to our body
The first author(Arun kumar) grateful to Prof. G. Bhattacharjee,
Head, Department of Chemistry, University of Roorkee, Roorkee for
providing all the facilities during the course of this work. I am also
thankful to all the faculty members of the Department of Chemistry for
their timely suggestions and moral support. I would like to express my
grateful thanks Prof. Indu Mehrotra, Environmental Engineering Sec-
tion, Civil Engineering Department, University of Roorkee, Roorkee
for permission to use their flame photometer and full co-operation
during experimental work. I am also thankful to Prof. K. Chandra,
Director USIC and Mr. Juyal for their cooperation in analyzing some
samples using their AAS. Computer library facilities extended by
V.B.S. Purvanchal University, Jaunpur is thankfully acknowledged.
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