December 4, 2010 — The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), in conjunction with the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy, held a 2-day, hands-on educational training program titled “Microscopic Identification of Popular Botanical Materials” to teach basic microscopy skills within the context of herbal supplement ingredient identification.
The course was AHPA’s most recent effort to assist industry in meeting the challenge of achieving 100 percent accurate ingredient identity verification.
The Food and Drug Administration’s current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) rule for dietary supplements (21 CFR 111) requires manufacturers to conduct identity testing of each dietary ingredient prior to using it in products or formulas. AHPA designed this course to introduce participants — both those already working in dietary supplement companies as well as those aspiring to do so — to the skills required to maintain compliance with this requirement.
The course familiarized participants with various plant parts at the microscopic level. The instructor, Elan Mikel Sudberg, CEO of Alkemist Pharmaceuticals, guided participants through several levels of magnification to create an understanding of the characteristic cellular features of each plant part examined using botanical microscopy techniques developed over the last century by botanists all over the world.
“Educational projects such as this one are essential to spreading interest in botanical microscopy,” said Dr. Sudberg. “The students were highly motivated and it was exciting to introduce them to the principles of this discipline, which will be in high demand as the herbal supplements industry continues to grow.”
“We were proud to host this event,” remarked Dr. Roger A. Clemens, Associate Director of the Regulatory Science program at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy. “A broader understanding of the principles of ingredient identification is essential to ensuring the continued viability of herbs and herb-derived components in foods and dietary supplements,” he added.
Information was presented in morphological groups such as barks, roots, leaves and seeds, and their characteristic microscopic components. The basic structure of the various tissue types was discussed and identified using examples from a vast database of microscopic botanical images. The program achieved its goal of providing participants with the experience necessary to confidently conduct microscopic analysis on a variety of popular botanical ingredients.
Source: American Herbal Products Association, www.ahpa.org