The issue of the content of inorganic elements in traditional Chinese medicines is becoming more and more eye-catching. Excessive amounts will not only cause a decline in the quality of traditional Chinese medicines, but will also cause significant harm to the metabolism and normal physiological functions of the human body. American ginseng is a perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the Araliaceae family and the genus Panax ginseng. It nourishes the lungs, reduces fire, produces fluid, and relieves fatigue. At present, American ginseng is mostly available on the market in the form of medicinal materials, slices or powder for consumers to choose directly. Because the planting, production, and processing of American ginseng are greatly affected by factors such as the geographical environment, especially heavy metal and harmful element pollution in the environment may affect the safety of long-term use. In the recent sampling inspection notice issued by the Shandong Food and Drug Administration, a total of 8 batches of drugs were marked as not meeting the standards, 3 of which were American ginseng drugs.

In order to ensure the quality and safety of American ginseng, it is necessary to investigate the heavy metals and harmful elements contained in it. However, at present, the detection of heavy metals in American ginseng mainly uses methods such as flame atomic absorption, graphite furnace atomic absorption, and hydride generation, which have problems such as high acid consumption, long time consumption, and complicated processes. Therefore, this application center referred to the " Chinese Pharmacopoeia 2020 Edition " and the "Supplementary Test Method for Permanganate Inspection Items in Ginseng and American Ginseng Medicinal Materials (BJY 202109)" to establish the use of microwave digestion and ICP-MS to analyze Mn and Cu in American ginseng. , As, Cd, Hg, Pb and other 6 elements, the method is easy to operate and can complete the test quickly and accurately.

Keywords: ICP-MS, medicine, American ginseng, Chinese Pharmacopoeia 2020, heavy metal pollution

Experimental part


EXPEC Technology EXPEC 790S super microwave chemical workstation and SUPEC 7000 ICP-MS equipped with standard nickel cone, quartz sampling system and standard TEC refrigeration module (see Figures 1 and 2).

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Table 2 Detection parameters of inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer

Reagents and standards

Reagents: high-grade pure nitric acid (CNW), high-grade pure hydrogen peroxide (Sinopharm Group);

Pure water: 18.2 MΩ·cm deionized water (25℃);

Standard solution: Cu, As, Cd, Hg, Pb, Au, Mn single element standard solution, 1000 μg/mL, (National Institute of Nonferrous Metals).

Experimental samples and processing

The sample and its status after digestion are shown in Figures 3 and 4 below.

Experimental process and results

1. Calibration curve and detection limit

By digesting the result of 10 blank injections SD*3*dilution factor, the method detection limit (MDL) and calibration curve linearity (measured by the correlation coefficient R^2) of the six elements were calculated.

2. Sample measurement results and quality control

Test the digested samples. Repeat the measurement three times for each sample. Calculate the average of the measured values. Add the standard solution to the sample. The amount of standard solution is about 0.5 times to 2 times the sample result. Conduct the test on the spiked samples. Determination and calculation of spike recovery rate;

3. Test precision

In order to examine the stability of the instrument when measuring samples, samples were continuously injected and analyzed 10 times to test the precision of the system. The RSD values of the measured values of all elements were within 10%.


The above experimental results show that microwave digestion can efficiently process American ginseng samples. Combined with ICP-MS determination, it is easy to operate, has high sensitivity, precision and accuracy, and can meet the pharmacopoeia requirements for six types of manganese, copper, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead in American ginseng. It meets the requirements for rapid and accurate determination of heavy metal elements. At the same time, the American ginseng samples tested by this method all meet the limit requirements of the "Chinese Pharmacopoeia 2020 Edition".


Equipment and consumables solutions

1. Configuration details of SUPEC 7000 standard sampling system

2. Reagents and standards