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Rapid detection and validated quantification of psychoactive compounds in complex plant matrices by direct analysis in real time-high resolution mass spectrometry - Application to "Kava" psychoactive pepper products

NCJ Number
Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry Volume: 33 Issue: 24 Dated: 2019 Pages: 1915-1925
Date Published
11 pages

In the report project, direct analysis in real time high-resolution mass spectrometry (DART-HRMS) demonstrated the ability to detect a range of kavalactones in Pipermethysticum derived products and plant material with no sample preparation; and a validated method using calibration curves developed with a deuterated internal standard was used for the quantification of the psychoactive molecule yangonin in various products.


DART-HRMS detected the protonated masses of six major kavalactones and three flavokavains in 18 commercial Kava products. A method consistent with FDA validation guidelines was established for the quantification of yangonin in the various complex matrices. Implementation of this method, with an LLOQ of 5 mg/mL, enabled successful quantification of yangonin in 16 Kava products. Concentrations for solid products ranged from 2.71 to 8.99 mg/g, while that for liquid products ranged from 1.03 to 4.59 mg/ml. The project concluded that rapid identification and quantification of psychoactive small molecules in plant material can be accomplished using a validated DART-HRMS protocol. This work illustrates an approach to qualitative and quantitative analyses of a wide variety of complex matrices derived from plants and demonstrates that the commercially available products analyzed are P. methysticum derived and do contain psychoactive yangonin at quantifiable levels. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019