Fenchem fights fake ginkgo

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Ginkgo biloba

Chinese supplier Fenchem has launched a testing method to detect fake ginkgo biloba, which has become more prevalent as increased demand has strained global supply.

The service will guarantee the quality of Fenchem’s own supply and the company said it would consider extending the service to other suppliers that wished to test their ginkgo wares.

Fake ginkgo is typically defined by the presence of introduced flavonoids from sources such as rutin – a citrusflavonoidglycoside​ found in buckwheat.

“Because of the limit of raw material resources, some suppliers try to add other components to ginkgo biloba extract to increase the content of flavonoids,”​ said Fenchem spokesperson Junny Lui. “This is very common in the market.”

The adulteration usually occurs via rutin being hydrolysed to flavonoid monomers to increase the overall flavonoid profile.


Lui said Fenchem had developed a simple, cost-effective testing system that employed a UV-HPLC detecting machine.

While the machine is commonly used by suppliers to test ingredients, Fenchem had developed a system to aid in “distinguishing the product origin”.

Testing for rutin contamination of ginkgo typically involves using a “sensitive and complicated” ​laboratory, a system Fenchem says it has simplified, and which “does not need extra cost and time.”

“The key point is our know-how which can not be found in the open UV-HPLC method,”​ Lui told NutraIngredients.com. “At present, we use this method only for Fenchem's product control. But if necessary, we could consider testing for other companies according to specific situations.”

Fenchem sells its standardised ginkgo extracts, branded as Ginktone, into Europe and the US, where it is pushing toward 30 per cent of the ginkgo market.

The extracts are made from 3-5 years old ginkgo leaves.

Ginkgo is derived from the leaves of the ginkgo tree and has been used for thousands of years by the Chinese as a herbal remedy for a variety of ailments.

It contains potent antioxidants called flavoglycosides that have been shown to have neuro-protective effects in animal models of spinal cord injury.

Clinical trials in Germany and France reported that gingko​ produced long-term improvements in cognitive function in older adults with dementia, but, a study by Joseph Carlson and co-workers from Stanford University reported no benefits for the herbal in healthy, non-demented older adults (Journal of the American Dietetic Association​, March 2007, Vol. 107, pp. 422-432).


Fenchem has used the same HPLC machine to improve quality of some of its other offerings including chondroitin sulfate (CS).

Its CS is derived from shark cartilage and it used HPLC testing to ensure the quality of its supply, “which calmed potential fears about the CS contamination from US clients.”

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