The unintentional ingestion of toxic compounds in herbs is not uncommon in many parts of the world. To provide timely and life-saving care in the emergency department, it is essential to develop a point-of-care analytical method that can rapidly identify these toxins in herbs. Since electrospray laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry (ELDI/MS) has been successfully used to characterize non-volatile chemical compounds without sample preparation, it was used to identify toxic herbal compounds in this study. The herbal toxins were collected either by sweeping a metallic probe across the surface of a freshly cut herb section or by directly sampling extracts of ground herbal powder. The analytes on the probe were then desorbed, ionized and detected using ELDI/MS, wherein analysis of the herbal toxins was completed within 30 s. This approach allows for the rapid morphological recognition of herbs and early point-of-care identification of herbal toxins for emergency management and is promising in providing important toxicological information to ensure appropriate medical treatment. © 2019

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