Effects of irradiation on active components of medicinal plants: A review


  • Piyanuch Thongphasuk Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Rangsit University, Patumthani 12000, Thailand
  • Jarunee Thongphasuk Research and Development Division, Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology (Public Organization), Nakornnayok 26120, Thailand


irradiation, antioxidants, active components, medicinal plants, herbs, volatile compounds


Contamination with microorganisms is one of the most serious problems of medicinal plants.  The methods utilized to solve this problem are irradiation, heat and fumigation (ethylene oxide).  Irradiation is an effective method to decontaminate medicinal plants, however, it may affect active components of the plants.  Additionally, the heat generated during steam sterilization may also have affects on the active compounds in plants.  This article reviews the effects of irradiation on active components and biological activities of medicinal plants.  The information will be useful for future studies in decontamination protocols where biological activity must be preserved.


Abd EI-Aziz, A.B. & Abd EI-Kalek, H.H. (2011). Antimicrobial proteins and oil seeds from pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata). Nat Sci, 9, 105-119.

Abdul Lateef, Z.W. & Al-Nimer, M.S.M. (2009). X-rays irradiation produced dual effects on the constituents of medicinal plants extracts. J Biol Sci, 9, 872-877.

Abrar, M., Anjum, F.M., Zahoor, T. & Nawaz H. (2009). Effect of storage period and irradiation doses on red chillies. Pak J Nut, 8, 1287-1291.

Al-Nimer Marwan, S.M. & Abdul Lateef, C.W. (2009). X-rays radiation directly produced favorable and harmful effects on the constituents of different medicinal plants. Pharmacog Res, 1, 331-335.

Alothman, M., Bhat, A. & Karim, A. (2009). Effects of radiation processing on phytochemicals and antioxidants in plant produce. Trends in Food Sci. Tech, 20, 201-212.

Ananthakumar, A., Variyar, P.S. & Sharma, A. (2006). Estimation of aroma glycosides of nutmeg and their changes during radiation processing. J Chromatogr A, 1108, 252-257.

Arici, M., Colak, F.A. & Gecgel, U. (2007). Effect of gamma radiation on microbiological and oil properties of black cumin (Nigella sativa L.). Grasas y aceites, 58, 339-343.

Bhat, R., Sridhar, K.R. & Yokotani, K.T. (2007). Effect of ionizing radiation on antinutritional features of velvet bean seeds (Mucuna pruriens). Food Chem, 103, 860-866.

Bhat, R., Sridhar, K.R. & Seena, S. (2008). Nutritional quality evaluation of velvet bean seeds (Mucuna pruriens) exposed to gamma irradiation. Int J Food Sci Nutr, 59, 261-278.

Brandstetter, S., Berthold, C., Isnardy, B., Solar, S., & Elmadfa, I. (2009). Impact of gamma-irradiation on the antioxidative properties of sage, thyme and oregano. Food Chem Toxicol, 47, 2230-2235.

Byun, M.W., Yooka, H.S., Kim, K.S. & Chung, C.K. (1999). Effects of gamma irradiation on physiological effectiveness of Korean medicinal herbs. Radiat Phys Chem, 54, 291-300.

Byun, M.W., Jo, C., Jeon, T.W., & Hong, C.H. (2004). Effects of gamma irradiation on color characteristics and biological activities of extracts of Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle) with methanol and acetone. LWT - Food Sci Tech, 37, 29-33.

Calucci, L., Pinzino, C., Zandomeneghi, M., Capocchi, A., Ghiringhelli, S., Saviozzi F., Tozzi, S., & Galleschi, L. (2003). Effects of gamma-irradiation on the free radical and antioxidant contents in nine aromatic herbs and spices. J Agric Food Chem, 51, 927-934.

Chatterjee, S., Desai, S.R.P. & Thomas, P. (1999). Effect of -irradiation on the antioxidant activity of turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) extracts. Food Res Int, 32, 487-490.

Chatterjee, S., Variyar, S.V., Achyut, S.G., Padwal-Desai, S.R., & Bongirwar, D.R. (2000). Effect of γ-irradiation on the volatile oil constituents of turmeric (Curcuma longa). Food Res Int, 33, 103-106.

Chmielewski, A.G. & Migdal, W. (2005). Radiation decontamination of herbs and species. Nukleonika, 50, 179-184.

Chosdu, R., Erizal, Iriawan, T. & Hilmy, N. (1995). The effect of gamma irradiation on curcumin component of Curcuma domestica. Radiat Phys Chem, 46, 663-667.

Crawford, L.M. & Ruff, E.H. (1996). A review of the safety of cold pasteurization through irradiation. Food Control, 7, 87-97.

Crucq, A., Deridder, V. & Tilquin, B. (2005). Radiostability of pharmaceuticals underdifferent irradiation conditions. Radiat Phys Chem, 72, 355-361.

Fan, X, & Sokorai, K.J. (2002). Changes in volatile compounds of gamma-irradiated fresh cilantro leaves during cold storage. J Agric Food Chem, 50, 7622-7626.

Fang, X. & Wu, J. (1998). Feasibility of sterilizing traditional Chinese medicines by gamma-irradiation. Radiat Phys Chem, 52, 53-58.

Farag, S.E., Aziz, N.H. & Attia, E.S. (1995). Effect of irradiation on the microbiological status and flavouring materials of selected spices. Z Lebensm Unters Forsch, 201, 283-288.

Gumus, T., Albayrak, S., Sagdic, O., & Arici, M. (2011). Effect of gamma irradiation on total phenolic contents and antioxidant activities of Satureja hortensis, Thymus vulgaris and Thymbra spicata from Turkey. Int J Food Properties, 14, 830-839.

Gupta, P.C., Bajpai, V., Mishra, V., Saxena, R.K., & Singh, S. (2009). Effect of gamma irradiation on microbial load, aflatoxins and phytochemicals present in Trigonella foenum-graecum. World J Microbiol Biotech, 25, 2267-2271.

Gyawali, R., Seo, H.Y., Shim, S.L., Ryu, K.Y., Kim, W., You, S.G., & Kim, K.S. (2008). Effect of -irradiation on the volatile compounds of Licorice (Glycyrrhiza urelansis F.). Eur Food Res Tech, 226, 577-582.

Haddad, M., Herent, M.F., Tilquin, B., & Quetin-Leclercq, J. (2007). Effect of gamma and e-beam radiation on the essential oils of Thymus vulgaris thymoliferum, Eucalyptus radiata and Lavandula angustifolia. J Agric Food Chem, 55, 6082-6086.

Harrison, K. & Were, L.M. (2007). Effect of gamma irradiation on total phenolic content yield and antioxidant capacity of Almond skin extracts. Food Chem, 102, 932-937.

Horvathova, J., Suhaj, M., Polovka, M., Brezova, V., & Šimko, P. (2007). The influence of gamma-irradiation on the formation of free radicals and antioxidant status of oregano (Origanum vulgare L.). Czech J Food Sci, 25, 131–143.

IAEA (1990). Guidelines for industrial radiation sterilization of disposable medical products (Cobalt-60 Gamma Irradiation)IAEA-TECDOC-539. Vienna, Austria: IAEA,

IAEA (2008). Trends in radiation sterilization of health care products. Vienna, Austria: IAEA.

Josimović, L. & Čudina, I. (1987). Spectrophotometric analysis of irradiated spices. Int J Rad Appl Instrum, 38, 269-274.

Khattak, K.F., Simpson, T.J. & Ihasnullah (2008). Effect of gamma irradiation on the extraction yield, total phenolic content and free radical-scavenging activity of Nigella sativa seed. Food Chem, 110, 967-972.

Khattak, K.F., Simpson, T.J. & Ihasnullah (2009). Effect of gamma irradiation on the microbial load, nutrient composition and free radical scavenging activity of Nelumbo nucifera rhizome. Radiat Phys Chem, 78, 206-212.

Khattak, K.F. & Simpson, T.J. (2010). Effect of gamma irradiation on the antimicrobial and free radical scavenging activities of Glycyrrhiza glabra root. Radiat Phys Chem, 79, 507-512.

Kim, J.W., Lee, B.C., Lee, J.H., Nam, K.C., & Lee, S.C. (2008). Effect of electron-beam irradiation on the antioxidant activity of extracts from Citrus unshiu pomaces. Radiat Phys Chem, 77, 87-91.

Kim, J.H, Shin, M.H., Hwang, Y.J., Srinivasan, P., Kim, J.K., Park, H.J, Byun, M.W., & Lee, J.W. (2009) Role of gamma irradiation on the natural antioxidants in cumin seeds. Radiat Phys Chem, 78, 153-157.

Koseki, P.M., Villavicencio, A.L.C.H., Brito, M.S., Nahme, L.C., Sebastiao, K.I., & Rela, P.R. (2002): Effects of irradiation in medicinal and eatable herbs. Radiat Phys Chem, 63, 681-684.

Kumari, N. (2009) Effects of ionizing radiation on microbial decontamination, phenolic contents and antioxidant properties of Triphala. J Food Sci, 74, M109–M113.

Lampart-Szczapa, E., Korczak, J., Nogala-Kalucka, M., & Zawirska-Wojtasiak, R. (2003). Antioxidant properties of lupin seed products. Food Chem, 83, 279-285.

Lee, E.J., Park, T., Son, J.H., Jo, C., Byun, M.W., & An, B.J. (2007). Verification of biological activity of irradiated Sopoongsan, an oriental medicinal prescription, for industrial application of functional cosmetic material. Radiat Phys Chem, 76, 1890-1894.

Mali, A.B., Khedkar, K. & Lele, S.S. (2011) Effect of gamma irradiation on total phenolic content and in vitro antioxidant activity of pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) Peels. Food Nut Sci, 2, 428-433.

Mamatha, A., Patil, K.S., Ashok P., Kushal,, & Soujanya, G. (2010). Effect of gamma irradiation on pharmacological activity of Andrographis paniculata. J Pharm Res, 3, 2638-2639.

Minea, R., Nemtanu, M.R., Manea, S., & Mazilu, E. (2007). Use of electron beam irradiation to improve the microbiological safety of Hippophae rhamnoides. Nucl Instrum Methods Phys Res Sect A, 580, 792-794.

Murcia, M.A., Egea, I., Romojaro, F., Parras, P., Jime´nez, A.M., & Martı´nez-Tome´, M. (2004). Antioxidant evaluation in dessert spices compared with common food additives. Influence of irradiation procedure. J Agric Food Chem, 52, 1872-1881.

Niyas, Z., Variyar, P.S., Gholap, A.S., & Sharma, A. (2003). Effect of gamma-irradiation on the lipid profile of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt). J Agric Food Chem, 51, 6502-6504

Owczarczyk, H.B., Migdal, W. & Kedzia, B. (2000). The pharmacological activity of medical herbs after microbiological decontamination by irradiation. Radiat Phys Chem, 57, 331-335.

Pe´rez, M.B., Caldero´n, N.L. & Croci, C.A. (2007). Radiation-induced enhancement of antioxidant activity in extracts of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.). Food Chem, 104, 585-592.

Polovka, M. & Suhaj, M. (2010). The effect of irradiation and heat treatment on composition and antioxidant properties of culinary herbs and spices — A review. Food Rev Int, 26, 138-161.

Ryu, K., Shim, S., Jung, M., Jun, S., Jo, C., Song, H., Kim, K., & Kim, Y. (2008). Effect of -Irradiation of volatile organic compounds of Houttuynia cordata Thunb. Korean J Food Preservation, 15, 411-420.

Sádecká J. (2007). Irradiation of spices – a review. Czech J Food Sci, 25, 231–242.

Sádecká, J. & Polovka, M. (2008). Multi-experimental study of γ-radiation impact on oregano (Origanum vulgare L.). J Food Nut Res, 47, 85-91.

Sádecká J. (2010). Influence of two sterilisation ways, gamma-irradiation and heat treatment, on the volatiles of black pepper (Piper nigrum L.). Czech J Food Sci, 28, 44–52.

Salum, D.C., Araújo, M.M., Fanaro, G.B., Purgatto, E., & Villavicencio, A.L.C.H. (2009). Determination of volatiles produced during radiation processing in Laurus cinnamomum. Radiat Phys Chem, 78, 635-637.

Seo, H.Y., Kim, J.H., Song, H.P., Kim, D.H., Byun, M.W., Kwon, J.H., & Kim, K.S. (2007). Effects of gamma irradiation on the yields of volatile extracts of Angelica gigas Nakai. Radiat Phys Chem, 76, 1869-1874.

Shim, S., Hwang, I., Ryu, K., Jung, M., Seo, H., Kim, H., Song, H., Kim, J., Lee, J., Byun, M., Kwon, J., & Kim, K. (2009): Effect of -irradiation on the volatile compounds of medicinal herb, Paeoniae Radix. Radiat Phys Chem, 78, 665-669.

Soriani, R.R, Satomi, L.C., de Jesus, T., & Pinto, A. (2005). Effects of ionizing radiation in ginkgo and guarana. Radiat Phys Chem, 73, 239-242.

Štajner, D., Milošević, M. & Popović, B.M. (2007). Irradiation effects on phenolic content, lipid and protein oxidation and scavenger ability of soybean seeds. Int J Mol Sci, 8, 618-627.

Suhaj, M., Rácová, J., Polovka, M., & Brezová, V. (2006). Effect of γ-irradiation on antioxidant activity of black pepper (Piper nigrum L.) Food Chem, 97, 696-704.

Suhaj, M. & Horvathova, J. (2007). Changes in antioxidant activity induced by irradiation of clove (Syzygium aromaticum) and ginger (Zingiber officinale). J Food Nut Res, 46,112-122.

Thongphasuk, P., Thongphasuk, J., Pongpat, S., Kuljanabhagavad, T., Iamsiri, J., & Sajjabut, S. (2008). Effect of gamma irradiation on active components and antioxidant activity of Curcuma longa L. and Andrographis paniculata Nee. Bull. Health, Sci. & Tech, 8, 13-17.

Van Doorne, H., Bosch, E.H., Zwaving, J.H., & Elema, E.T. (1988). Gamma irradiation of Sennae Folium: Microbiological and phytochemical studies. Pharm World Sci, 10, 217-220.

Variyar, P.S., Bandyopadhyay, C. & Thomas, P. (1998). Effect of gamma-irradiation on the phenolic acids of some Indian spices. Int J Food Sci Technol, 33, 533-537.

Variyar, P.S., Limaye, A. & Sharma, A. (2004). Radiation-induced enhancement of antioxidant contents of soybean (Glycinemax Merrill). J Agric Food Chem, 52, 3385-3888.

WHO. (1999). High-dose irradiation: wholesomeness of food irradiated with doses above 10 KGy, Technical Report Series no 890. World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

Yalcin, H., Ozturk, I., Tulukcu, E. & Sagdic, O. (2011). Effect of γ-irradiation on bioactivity, fatty acid compositions and volatile compounds of clary sage seed (Salvia sclarea L.). J Food Sci, 76, C1056–C1061.

Yu, Y.B., Jeong, Y., Park, H.R., Oh, H., Jung, U., & Jo, S.K. (2004). Toxicological safety and stability of the components of an irradiated Korean medicinal herb, Paeoniae Radix. Radiat Phys Chem, 71, 117-121.

Zareena, A.V., Variyar, P.S., Gholap, A.S., & Bongirwar, D.R. (2001). Chemical investigation of gamma-irradiated saffron (Crocus sativus L.). J Agric Food Chem, 49, 687-691.

Zhu, F., Cai, Y., Bao, J., & Corke, H. (2010). Effect of -irradiation on phenolic compounds in rice grain. Food Chem, 120, 74-77.




How to Cite

Thongphasuk, P. ., & Thongphasuk, J. . (2023). Effects of irradiation on active components of medicinal plants: A review. Journal of Current Science and Technology, 2(1), 57–71. Retrieved from https://ph04.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/JCST/article/view/599



Review Article