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How can you verify that the herbs are authentic and what additional tests are involved?

By Alex Raymond /

How can you verify that the herbs are authentic and what additional tests are involved?

We test continually throughout the supply chain, both for safety and for authenticity. The herbs in DAO Labs’ products are twice tested for authenticity*: first at the point of manufacture and then again at an independent third party laboratory in the U.S. This lab is cGMP certified.  


The following tests are conducted by DAO’s herb supplier, with verification provided to DAO prior to receipt of any product:


  • Quality Assurance
  • Species Authentication
  • Sulfur Dioxide Detection
  • Pesticide Residuals Detection
  • Aflatoxin Detection
  • Heavy Metal
  • Aristolochic Acid Detection

Quality Assurance


DAO Labs herbal components have passed through rigorous testing standards and inspection processes that are integrated directly into the manufacturing process. The herbs pass tests for the full range of contaminants, including analysis for heavy metals, dangerous pesticides, sulfur dioxide, aflatoxins and aristolochic acid.


Species Authentication


Authentication is the determination of the correct species, origin and quality of Chinese herbs. The authentication process aims to prevent the use of inauthentic herbs, whether by mistaken identification or the substitution of imitation products. The process is modeled not only after the canonical texts of Chinese medicine, but also in accordance with particular standards for quality and inspection methods. The authentication method also uses technology specified for detection of the correct origin and species of the Chinese herbs.


The following methods of authentication on raw herbs are performed:


  1. Appearance
  2. Microscopic analysis
  3. Physical/chemical identification
  4. Chemical Fingerprinting

Thin-layer chromatography (TLC), high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS), and GC-MS-MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) are all used to authenticate the species identity of herbs.


Sulfur Dioxide Detection


The herbs utilized in DAO Labs’ products are tested to ensure that the use of sulfur dioxide has not been applied or utilized at the farm level.  


Pesticide Residuals Detection


A comprehensive approach to testing for pesticides is incorporated into the testing process.  The techniques generally employed to detect for pesticide residuals are thin-layer chromatography (TLC) or gas chromatography. TLC is used in most general cases while using gas chromatography testing offers both precision and more reliability.    


Aflatoxin Detection


Aflatoxin testing is performed on all herbs at risk of contamination  and herbs that contain unacceptable Aflatoxin levels are discarded.


Heavy Metal


Our herbs are tested for heavy metal content with a process called ICP-MS, a technique much more accurate than those specified in the Chinese Pharmacopeia.  


Aristolochic Acid Detection


DAO Labs maintains a uniform policy forbidding ingredients with aristolochic acid. Aristolochic acid is found in certain herbal products and is a concern because it is a known nephrotoxin that can cause kidney failure when taken in large doses and has been linked to urothelial cancer when taken in small doses over an extended period of time. Aristolochic acid is found in the birthwort (Aristolochiaceae) family of plants. Although there is a long history of medicinal use for certain species in this family, Dao Labs will not include any of these plants in its formulations. Because the discovery of aristolochic acid toxicity is relatively recent, we work closely with our suppliers to stay abreast of the latest research on aristolochic acid and make sure that we are only using the safest herbal ingredients in our products.


*DAO Labs re-verifies all incoming COAs from our suppliers, testing both the raw material and our finished product against our suppliers’ standards at an independent, U.S.-based laboratory. This added layer of quality testing represents a unique but important step in the process.

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