15 August, 2015 Charlena Edge 0 Comment

This semester, I learned to assess the quality and purity of herbs. As part of our training, my class spent time working at the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN) labs in College Park, MD. JIFSAN was established between the United States Food and Drug Administration and the University of Maryland in 1996. “The Institute is a jointly administered, multidisciplinary research, education and outreach program” which promotes food safety, human nutrition, and animal health.

We received briefings about dietary supplements, prescription drugs, food additives, good manufacturing practices, federal regulations, and adulteration (contaminants or impurities). After the classroom portion, we went into the lab to learn how to check the identity of herbs, and check for purity and strength. 

We were given blind (unidentified) samples and through microscope examination and Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) were to determine which herb, blue cohosh or black cohosh, we were given.

After conducting our visual examination, preparing our samples, and running a series of tests, my lab partner and I decided we had a mixture of blue and black cohosh. We also knew we had a contaminant, but we had no idea what it was. It turns out we were correct about the mixture (though our percentage was wrong) and the contaminant was sugar, added to our sample by our very brilliant but sneaky host scientist!

I was incredibly intimidated when I arrived at the lab, coupled with the stress that I was lost for 15 minutes so I was late. It ended up being an incredibly productive, fun day! I can’t remember the last time I learned so much in such a short amount of time.

  • Me

  • Lab Equipment

  • Our Fearless Teacher

  • Workspace, Microscope, Sample Preparation

  • Lab Partners

  • Busy

  • Smarter!

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About Me

Charlena Edge

Charlena Edge

Hi, welcome to my humble abode! I’m Charlena, wife, mother of two, pet mommy, full-time worker, sporadic crafter, former floral designer, trial and error gardener, future chicken owner, and wanna be farmer. I have a Master’s degree in Therapeutic Herbalism. In between my disjointed, seemingly unrelated posts, I hope to share some of what I’ve learned. Thanks for stopping by!

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