Background: Granules are a popular way of administrating herbal decoctions. However, there are no standardised quality control methods for granules, with few studies comparing the granules to traditional herbal decoctions. This study developed a multi-analytical platform to compare the quality of granule products to herb/decoction pieces of Angelicae Sinensis Radix (Danggui).
Methods: A validated ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled with photodiode array detector (UPLC-PDA) method quantitatively compared the aqueous extracts. Hierarchical agglomerative clustering analysis (HCA) and principal component analysis (PCA) clustered the samples according to three chemical compounds: ferulic acid, caffeic acid and Z-ligustilide. Ferric ion-reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) and 2,2-Diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical scavenging capacity (DPPH) assessed the antioxidant activity of the samples.
Results: HCA and PCA allocated the samples into two main groups: granule products and herb/decoction pieces. Greater differentiation between the samples was obtained with three chemical markers compared to using one marker. The herb/decoction pieces group showed comparatively higher extraction yields and significantly higher DPPH and FRAP (p < 0.05), which was positively correlated to caffeic acid and ferulic acid, respectively.
Conclusions: The results confirm the need for the quality assessment of granule products using more than one chemical marker for widespread practitioner and consumer use.