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Direct analysis in real time high resolution mass spectrometry as a tool for rapid characterization of mind-altering plant materials and revelation of supplement adulteration - The case of Kanna

NCJ Number
Forensic Science International Volume: 260 Dated: 2016 Pages: 66-73
Date Published
8 pages

This paper demonstrates the utility of DART-HRTOFMS for the rapid screening of commercially available Sceletium tortuosum products, also known as Kanna, an example of a widely available plant supplement that has been identified by the UNODC as a drug of concern. 


In this paper, the authors demonstrate the utility of direct analysis in real-time ionization coupled with high resolution time-of-flight mass spectrometry (DART-HRTOFMS) in revealing the adulteration of commercially available Sceletium tortuosum, a mind-altering plant-based drug commonly known as Kanna. Accurate masses consistent with alkaloids previously isolated from S. tortuosum plant material enabled identification of the products as Kanna, and in-source collision-induced dissociation (CID) confirmed the presence of one of these alkaloids, hordenine, while simultaneously revealing the presence of an adulterant. The stimulant ephedrine, which has been banned in herbal products and supplements, was confirmed to be present in a sample through the use of in-source CID. High-throughput DART-HRTOFMS was shown to be a powerful tool to not only screen plant-based drugs of abuse for psychotropic alkaloids, but also to reveal the presence of scheduled substances and adulterants. (Published Abstracts Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2016