Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is becoming more and more popular all over the world. Novel analytical tools for quality control are highly demanded enabling analysis starting at breeding and ending at biological fluids including urine or serum. Compared to analytical separation methods (chromatography, electrophoresis) near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) allows analyzing matter of interest non-invasively, fast and physical/chemical parameters simultaneously. It can be used for the quantitative control of certain (active) ingredients. In many cases identification can only be achieved by pattern recognition. Therefore, NIRS combined with cluster analysis offers huge potential to identify e.g. species, geographic origin, special medicinal formula etc. In the present contribution the fundamentals, possibilities of NIR applied in quality control of TCM are pointed out and its ad- and disadvantages are discussed in detail by several practical examples.
Keywords: Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), quality, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), geoherbs, processing, secondary metabolites, chromatography, plant extracts, chemometrics, HPLC
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