What is Cinnamic Acid, Know its Benefits, Side Effects and Food Sources

What is Cinnamic Acid?

Cinnamic acid is a compound present in many plants and common spices and is known to have anti-inflammatory properties.(1) Cinnamic acid is a protective compound found in ginseng, cinnamon bark, grains, honey and other foods.(2) It has over 50 derivatives and is comparable to or even more potent than standard drugs to treat infectious diseases like tuberculosis.

Cinnamic acid is also used for industrial purposes and is a common ingredient in cosmetic products such as perfumes and skin creams. In cosmetic products, it is used for anti-aging and ultraviolet protection.(3)

Benefits of Cinnamic Acid

  1. Improves Gut Health

    Poor gut results from bad bacteria in the gut and is associated with inflammatory conditions such as cancer, obesity and heart diseases.(4,5) Cinnamic acid is known to promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut and suppress bad bacteria growth.(6) A study found that cinnamic acid helped in inhibiting the growth of E.Coli in the gut, a bacteria that is associated with food poisoning.

  2. Improves Memory and Brain Health

    A study was done on mice in which the mice were given injections of cinnamic acid. It was observed that cinnamic acid improved the markers of dementia-related memory impairment.(7) And its effects were dose-dependent, which means the more the cinnamic acid was injected the more the memory improved. Another study found the positive effects of cinnamic acid over the dopamine-producing neurons in mice with Parkinson’s disease.(8) This disease leads to the loss of dopamine-producing neurons. Cinnamic acid also prevents the build-up of beta-amyloid peptides, which play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.(9)

  3. Reduces the Risk of Developing Diabetes

    Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a metabolic condition that is prevalent in children and adults. It is an inflammatory condition associated with oxidative stress and an increased risk of heart diseases.(10) Cinnamic acid with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties improves blood markers for glucose and improves cell uptake of glucose and reduces glucose production by the liver.(11, 12) It showed to improve the blood cholesterol levels in mice.

  4. Other Health Benefits of Cinnamic Acid

    Other health benefits of cinnamic acid are:

    • Treats Periodontitis: A study found the effectiveness of cinnamic acid in reducing inflammation caused by periodontitis and promoting bone growth in the area. Periodontitis is an inflammatory disease of gum tissue.(13)
    • Used in Cancer Therapy: Studies show cinnamic acid can inhibit cancer-causing proteins and can be used as an adjunct therapy for lung and breast cancer.(14)
    • Offers Ultraviolet Protection: Cinnamic acid is used in cosmetic products for ultraviolet protection and antioxidant benefits.(15)
    • Reduces Risk Of Dengue: Certain derivatives of cinnamic acid are known to have larvicidal properties that destroy larvae of Aedes aegypti that transmit dengue, yellow fever and Chikungunya.(16)

Side Effects of Cinnamic Acid

Cinnamic acid when used in small quantities is safe to be used. If used in higher concentrations in cosmetic products, it may trigger allergic reactions and dermatitis inflammation of the skin in a few people. This is why cosmetic products either mention as required to be used in smaller doses or print safety warnings on the label.

Cinnamaldehyde a compound found in cinnamon is converted to cinnamic acid in the body. Consuming which in excess may have toxicity concerns.(17)

Food Sources of Cinnamic Acid

Cinnamic acid is naturally present in a variety of plants and spices. It can be obtained from cinnamon bark, fruits, ginseng, balsam tree sap, honey, whole grains, and vegetables.(18) It is not known to be available as a supplement.

Cinnamic acid is a natural compound with a variety of health benefits. The data proving its efficacy is very scant. More research is needed to look over its efficiency in being beneficial for health.