The increased popularity of alternative medicine treatments has prompted resurgence in the use of traditional herbal remedies. Among this vast number of herbs, ginseng is purchased by a considerable number of consumers; especially three species: Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolium, and Eleutherococcus senticosus. Many of the physiological effects claimed by ginseng manufacturers tend to mimic those of central nervous system stimulants. This led to the purpose of this research, which was to develop an HPLC chromatographic method in order to determine if any specific CNS stimulants are within ginseng supplements. Specifically we found a series of CNS stimulants, methylxanthines (caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine), do exist in varying concentrations. The identity and concentration of the specific methylxanthines varied with the type of ginseng and the manufacturer. The final conditions for the efficient chromatographic separation are through the use of a Hewlett-Packard Model 1 100 HPLC with a Zorbax C18-SB column, a mobile phase composition of 21% methanol: 79% (2%) acetic acid, a column temperature of 35C, a flow rate of 1.0 ml/min, and a UV wavelength detection at 280 nm. The levels of methylxanthines ranged from 0-1 mg/dose to 15-50 mg/dose. Identification of the methylxanthines was confirmed via standard addition, GC-MS and/or LC-MS.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Ginseng--Analysis; Ginseng--Therapeutic use; Chromatographic analysis; Herbs--Therapeutic use; Alternative medicine

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Chemistry and Materials Science (COS)


Gennett, Thomas


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