Uses, sources, benefits, side effects

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Cinnamic acid is a naturally occurring compound found in many plants and the common spice cinnamon (1, 2).

It may have anti-inflammatory properties and be linked to health benefits, such as lowered blood sugar levels, improved memory, and reduced risk of developing cancerous tumors (1, 2, 3).

This article reviews cinnamic acid, including its benefits, possible side effects, and food sources.

Cinnamic acid is a natural and protective plant compound found in cinnamon bark, ginseng, whole grains, and honey, among other foods (2).

It is derived when the amino acid, phenylalanine, is broken down by enzymes (1, 2).

It has over 50 derivatives and is a potential therapeutic compound. A recent study found that it may be comparable or even more potent than standard drugs used to treat certain chronic and infectious diseases like tuberculosis (2).

Cinnamic acid also has industrial uses and is a common ingredient in cosmetic products, such as perfumes and skin creams, where it is used for its ultraviolet (UV) protection and anti-aging properties. (1, 2, 4).

Summary

Cinnamic acid is a naturally occurring compound found in many plants, including cinnamon bark. It has potential therapeutic benefits for chronic and infectious diseases and is a common ingredient in cosmetics.

Laboratory, animal and human studies have all indicated that cinnamic acid may provide several health benefits.

May improve gut health

Gut health refers to the physical health of the intestinal tract, including the ability to properly digest food and absorb its nutrients. It also refers to the gut microbiota, which is the community of bacteria that live in the gut.

Poor gut health and dysbiosis – the overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut – are associated with inflammatory conditions such as cancer, obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes (5, 6, 7).

Cinnamic acid is one of 14 spice extracts with prebiotic potential, which means it has been shown to promote the growth of “good” bacteria in the gut while suppressing the growth of ” bad ‘bacteria in laboratory studies (8).

Additionally, a 2020 study showed that cinnamic acid inhibited the growth of E. Coli (GUS) in the gut – a strain of bacteria associated with food poisoning (9).

May improve memory and brain health

A study in diabetic mice showed that injections of cinnamic acid improved markers of dementia-related memory impairment (ten).

The effect was dose-dependent, meaning that the more cinnamic acid was injected into mice, the more their memory improved (ten).

Another study showed that cinnamic acid has a protective effect on dopamine-producing neurons in mice with Parkinson’s disease (11).

The loss of dopamine-producing neurons is characteristic of Parkinson’s disease, the second most common age-related neurodegenerative disease (12).

Cinnamon extracts, including cinnamic acid, may also prevent the build-up of beta-amyloid peptides (Aβ), which play an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease (1, 13).

While these animal studies show great potential, more human research is needed.

May reduce the risk of developing diabetes

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a complex metabolic disorder that is prevalent in children and adults (14, 15).

Additionally, diabetes is an inflammatory disease associated with oxidative stress and an increased risk of heart disease (15).

Cinnamic acid has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can improve blood markers of diabetes by improving the uptake of glucose by cells and reducing the production of glucose by the liver (16, 17, 18).

Cinnamic acid also improved blood cholesterol levels in diabetic mice (17).

Other potential health benefits:

Studies show that cinnamic acid may have other health benefits as well:

  • Can treat periodontitis. Periodontitis is inflammation of the gum tissue, and periodontal disease has been linked to diseases of the cardiovascular, endocrine, and reproductive systems. A study in rats found that cinnamic acid reduced inflammation caused by periodontitis and promoted bone growth in the area (19, 20).
  • Potential cancer therapy. Studies have shown that cinnamic acid and its derivatives inhibit carcinogenic proteins and may be an adjunct therapy for the treatment of lung and breast cancer (21, 22).
  • May offer UV protection. Cinnamic acid is a common ingredient in many cosmetic products, where it is used to provide UV protection. Cinnamic acid is sensitive and activated by UV radiation, providing antioxidant benefits (4, 23).
  • May reduce the risk of dengue fever. Certain cinnamic acid derivatives have larvicidal properties and have been shown to destroy the larvae of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits dengue fever, yellow fever and the Chikungunya and Zika viruses (24).

It is important to note that many of these studies were performed on human cells isolated from laboratory studies or on animals, such as mice.

Therefore, well-designed research and clinical trials are needed to confirm whether cinnamic acid would have the same effects in humans (16).

Summary

Cinnamic acid has been linked to various health benefits and may support gut health and memory. It can help prevent neurodegeneration, diabetes, cancer, and periodontal disease. Still, more research is needed.

Cinnamic acid is generally safe for humans when consumed in small amounts found in food.

However, the high concentrations of cinnamic acid found in some cosmetic products can trigger allergic reactions and inflammatory skin dermatitis in some people (4).

These cosmetic brands must either use lower doses or print a safety warning on the label (4).

There are also concerns that UV filters in cosmetics and sunscreens – including the organic compound cinnamic acid – will enter the marine environment and be harmful (25).

Toxic environmental effects on marine organisms, such as sea urchins, fish, corals and algae, include inhibition of growth and reproduction, deformities and death (25).

Additionally, there is a potential risk of toxicity from cinnamaldehyde – a compound found in cinnamon that can potentially be converted to cinnamic acid in the body (26).

Overall, research data on the safety of cinnamic acid is scarce. More research is needed to determine its appropriate dosage and safety profile.

Summary

Cinnamic acid is generally safe when consumed in small amounts naturally found in food. High concentrations of cinnamic acid in cosmetics can trigger allergic reactions and be toxic to the marine environment.

Cinnamic acid is found naturally in a range of plants and spices. These plants also provide other essential vitamins and minerals necessary for overall good health.

You can get cinnamic acid from (1, 2, 27):

  • cinnamon bark (including bark oil, bark powders and cinnamon stick)
  • ginseng (Panax ginseng)
  • balsam fir sap
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains (cereals, rice, wheat bran)
  • my dear

There is currently no known cinnamic acid supplement.

Summary

Cinnamic acid is found in a variety of plant sources, including cinnamon bark and its products, ginseng, fruits, vegetables, honey, and whole grains like rice, wheat bran, and cereals. .

Cinnamic acid is a naturally occurring compound found in various plant sources, including cinnamon bark.

It’s linked to many potential health benefits, including reduced inflammation, lowered blood sugar and cholesterol levels, improved memory, and increased growth of “good” gut bacteria.

Although there is little data on its safety, it appears to be safe when consumed in small amounts naturally found in food. That said, there are potential risks of allergy and toxicity associated with the high concentrations of this compound present in cosmetic products.

More research is needed on the use of cinnamic acid.


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