Submitted to: Journal of Functional Foods
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/25/2009
Publication Date: 3/3/2010
Citation: Lee, J., Scagel, C.F. 2010. Chicoric acid levels in commercial basil (Ocimum basilicum) and Echinacea purpurea products. Journal of Functional Foods. 2:77-84.
Interpretive Summary: This manuscript is a follow up to our recent identification of chicoric acid in fresh basil leaves. Chicoric acid is the main phenolic found in Echinacea purpurea extracts and capsules, a popular dietary supplement in the United States, marketed for many potential health benefits including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunostimulating properties. We previously reported that chicoric acid was the second most abundant phenolic, after rosmarinic acid, in fresh basil leaves. This current work is the first report on chicoric acid concentrations in the dried form of basil herb, commonly found in the marketplace. As basil is more economical and readily obtainable than E. purpurea herbal products (traditionally considered as the main source of chicoric acid), we wanted to determine concentrations of chicoric acid in both fresh and dried basil, unprocessed E. purpurea and its available supplements, and compare them. Our results demonstrated that chicoric acid is easy to get from common fresh basil leaves, or dried basil flakes. These basil products also have the added benefit of being less expensive than E. purpurea supplements.
Technical Abstract: Recently, we reported fresh basil (Ocimum basilicum) leaves contain chicoric acid, which is the principal phenolic compound in Echinacea purpurea and purportedly an active ingredient in dietary supplements derived from E. purpurea. Here we present the results from a study evaluating chicoric acid concentrations in dried and fresh basil products available to consumers and how these concentrations compare to those from E. purpurea. A wide range of chicoric acid concentrations (6.48 – 242.50mg / 100g or 100mL) were found in the dried basil flakes, fresh basil leaves, E. purpurea extracts, and E. purpurea capsules. Fresh basil leaves had higher concentrations of chicoric acid than dried basil flakes. Although E. purpurea extracts and capsules contained higher concentrations of chicoric acid than fresh basil leaves, basil could be an economical and more readily available source for chicoric acid for consumers. Additionally, cultivar selection, dehydration processing improvements, and proper storage methods may improve the final chicoric acid level of future basil crops and products.