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The effects of electron beam irradiation (5, 10 and 15 kGy) on shelf-life and major plant metabolites of an Ayurvedic medicinal plant Desmodium gangeticum was evaluated. Its root possesses incredible medicinal effects; hence powdered root sample (choorna) was subjected to radiation processing and thereby shelf-life extension. The root sample was found to possess an appreciable amount of phenolic and flavonoid compounds. Processing with radiation did not produce prominent changes in the phenolic content of samples even after storage for up to 12 months. In contrast, Calcium content was increased significantly (p < 0.05) on radiation processing wit 5 kGy and 15 kGy. Microbial status revealed that the untreated sample was acceptable only up to 4 months. A dose-dependent reduction in the microbial count resulted in all the radiation processed samples. Treatment with doses of 10 kGy and 15 kGy reduced the colony count to nil immediately after irradiation. Irradiation with 15 kGy kept the sample completely sterilized up to 2 months of storage and was acceptable even 12th month of storage. GC-MS analyses identified compounds with pharmacological importance such as methyl palmitate, mome-inositol, Neophytadiene, etc. Although, a slight change in mineral composition and phytochemicals were observed it could effectively decontaminate the medicinal herb and increase the shelf-life with minimum loss of major metabolites compared to other conventional methods of processing.
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