Ferulic acid is a hydroxycinnamic acid, an organic compound. It is an abundant phenolic phytochemical found in plant cell walls, covalently bonded as side chains to molecules such as arabinoxylans. As a component of lignin, ferulic acid is a precursor in the manufacture of other aromatic compounds. The name is derived from the genus Ferula, referring to the giant fennel (Ferula communis).
2-propenoic acid, 3-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-
3D model (JSmol)
|Molar mass||194.18 g/mol|
|Melting point||168 to 172 °C (334 to 342 °F; 441 to 445 K)|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Occurrence in natureEdit
Ferulic acid is found in a number of vegetable sources, and occurs in particularly high concentrations in popcorn and bamboo shoots. It is a major metabolite of chlorogenic acids in humans along with caffeic and isoferulic acid, and is absorbed in the small intestine, whereas other metabolites such as dihydroferulic acid, feruloylglycine and dihydroferulic acid sulfate are produced from chlorogenic acid in the large intestine by the action of gut flora.
In cereals, ferulic acid is localized in the bran – the hard outer layer of grain. In wheat, phenolic compounds are mainly found in the form of insoluble bound ferulic acid and may be relevant to resistance to wheat fungal diseases. The highest known concentration of ferulic acid glucoside has been found in flaxseed (4.1 ± 0.2 g/kg). It is also found in barley grain.
Asterid eudicot plants can also produce ferulic acid. The tea brewed from the leaves of yacón (Smallanthus sonchifolius), a plant traditionally grown in the northern and central Andes, contains quantities of ferulic acid. In legumes, the white bean variety navy bean is the richest source of ferulic acid among the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) varieties. It is also found in horse grams (Macrotyloma uniflorum).
Although there are many sources of ferulic acid in nature, its bioavailability depends on the form in which it is present: free ferulic acid has limited solubility in water, and hence poor bioavailability. In wheat grain, ferulic acid is found bound to cell wall polysaccharides, allowing it to be released and absorbed in the small intestine.
In herbal medicinesEdit
Ferulic acid has been identified in Chinese medicine herbs such as Angelica sinensis (female ginseng), Cimicifuga heracleifolia and Ligusticum chuangxiong. It is also found in the tea brewed from the European centaury (Centaurium erythraea), a plant used as a medical herb in many parts of Europe.
In processed foodsEdit
Ferulic acid is converted by certain strains of yeast, notably strains used in brewing of wheat beers, such as Saccharomyces delbrueckii (Torulaspora delbrueckii), to 4-vinyl guaiacol (2-methoxy-4-vinylphenol) which gives beers such as Weissbier and Wit their distinctive "clove" flavour. Saccharomyces cerevisiae (dry baker's yeast) and Pseudomonas fluorescens are also able to convert trans-ferulic acid into 2-methoxy-4-vinylphenol. In P. fluorescens, a ferulic acid decarboxylase has been isolated.
It can be extracted from wheat bran and maize bran using concentrated alkali.
Ferulic acid, like many natural phenols, is an antioxidant in vitro in the sense that it is reactive toward free radicals such as reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS and free radicals are implicated in DNA damage, cancer, and accelerated cell aging.
If added to a topical preparation of ascorbic acid and vitamin E, ferulic acid may reduce oxidative stress and formation of thymine dimers in skin. There is also a small amount of research showing oral supplements of ferulic acid can inhibit melanin production in the process of skin whitening.[full citation needed]
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