Planta Med 2017; 83(12/13): 1053-1057
DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-100632
Natural Product Chemistry and Analytical Studies
Original Papers
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Quantitative Determination of Lactones in Piper methysticum (Kava-Kava) by Supercritical Fluid Chromatography[*]

Adele Murauer
Institute of Pharmacy, Pharmacognosy, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
Markus Ganzera
Institute of Pharmacy, Pharmacognosy, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

received 29 November 2016
revised 20 December 2016

accepted 09 January 2017

Publication Date:
17 January 2017 (eFirst)


A fast and validated supercritical fluid chromatography method for the quantitative determination of major lactones in Piper methysticum, a plant used against nervous anxiety, stress, and restlessness, was developed. The baseline separation of dihydrokavain, demethoxyyangonin, kavain, yangonin, dihydromethysticin, and methysticin was possible in less than 4 min on an Aquity UPC2 BEH 1.7 µm column, in combination with a mobile phase comprising CO2 and methanol with diethylamine. The column temperature had a great impact on the results because only at 70 °C could kavain and yangonin be fully resolved. With correlation coefficients above 0.998, recovery rates between 95.9 and 104.1 % as well as limit of detection values below 1.5 ng on-column, the procedure fulfilled all validation requirements and was well suited for the quantitative analysis of commercial products containing P. methysticum root powder and/or extract. All of them contained the target analytes, however, the absolute content of lactones was quite variable. Accordingly, depending on the product, the total daily intake of lactones varied from 56 to 312 mg. Concerning speed, selectivity, and environmental friendly operation, this supercritical fluid chromatography approach surpasses all previously reported ones.

* Dedicated to Professor Dr. Max Wichtl in recognition of his outstanding contribution to pharmacognosy research.

Supporting Information

A comparison of the UV spectra of six kavalactone standards and respective signals in a sample solution is available as Supporting Information.