Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 5-2016


Food and health industries are taking advantage of the phenolics in elderberries (Sambucus L.) to relieve symptoms of ailments like the flu. A rise in demand has induced an increase in the production of elderberry products. Although the pharmacological attributes of these fruits have been investigated, the toxicology has not been well addressed. While inedible species such as S. glauca have been found to contain cyanogenic glycosides, there is not a clear understanding of the toxicity of these plants. These cyanogenic glycosides hydrolyze to form the toxin hydrogen cyanide (HCN) when consumed, causing the clinical symptoms of nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, cyanosis, liver damage, hypotension, fever, mental confusion, and even death. For this reason, the consumption of these fruits in the raw state may pose a hazard to humans. Before consumption it is recommended that berries be de-stemmed, seeded, and cooked to avoid toxic effects.

The purpose of this study was to quantify the cyanogenic glycosides prunasin and sambunigrin in elderberries native to Maine. This research observed that prunasin standard chemically changes over time while in a methanol solution. This change may be from degradation or from reactions with unknown impurities in the standard. This study also found that standard can be removed from methanol and later re-dissolved to prevent this chemical change, which may save time and money in future studies. Another finding in this study is that the best HPLC-UV chromatographic separation occurs in an acid-free mobile phase. Finally this study found that an ELSD should be used to quantify prunasin.

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