Erxian Decoction (EXD), a traditional Chinese medicine formula mainly composed of six Chinese herbs, was originally developed for menopausal syndromes and had been practiced since the 1950s in China. Previous studies only focused on the water-soluble compounds involved in EXD by LC or TLC. This study analyzed the whole profile of the volatile constituents contained in EXD to supplement its quality evaluation method. Several EXD samples were extracted with chloroform and ethyl acetate, respectively, to get the lipid-soluble chloroform and ethyl acetate fractions and compared their gas chromatographic profiles by GC–MS. The EXD samples were hydrolyzed with hydrochloric acid in a water-bath at 100 °C, neutralized with 40% NaOH, and finally extracted with ethyl acetate and chloroform for the quantification of the total sarsasapogenins contained in EXD. A total of 56 compounds belonging to a variety of natural product categories such as aromatic phenols, terpenes, fatty acids, ketones, esters, and aldehydes, etc. were identified from the chloroform and ethyl acetate extracts by using the online EI–MS characterization. The GC–MS method showed a linear response for sarsasapogenin quantification with r = 0.994. The intra-day and inter-day variations of precision and accuracy of the assay were less than 5%. This developed GC–MS method could thus be successfully applied for the identification of lipid-soluble constituents derived from EXD, and also for the accurate quantification of the total sarsasapogenins contained in the acid hydrolyzed EXD samples.
- Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry
- Chinese medicine formula
- Erxian decoction