Ferulic acid is an organic compound found in the cell walls of some plants. Rich in antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C , and vitamin E, ferulic acid is most commonly found in anti-aging skin creams, which are believed to neutralize free radicals that damage and age cells. Ferulic acid can also be taken orally as a dietary supplement, which alternative medicine practitioners believe can prevent or treat high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and other conditions that are affected by oxidative stress .
Ferulic acid found in supplements is generally obtained from cereals. Ferulic acid is also found in high concentrations in various herbal products used in traditional Chinese medicine , including dong quai ( Angelica sinesis ), sheng ma ( Cimicifuga heracleifolia ), and chuan xiong ( Ligusticum chuangxiong ).
Ferulic acid is best known for its protective properties for the skin. When applied topically, ferulic acid heals sun damage and reverses the signs of aging, including fine lines and wrinkles.
Ferulic acid is taken less frequently as an oral supplement, but some believe that it improves athletic performance and slows down the aging process. Additionally, ferulic acid is sometimes used to prevent or treat certain conditions, including:
The research supporting the use of ferulic acid is generally weak. To date, there is little evidence that ferulic acid can delay aging or effectively treat any disease.
This does not mean that ferulic acid is completely useless. Here's what some of the studies say.
While several studies have tested the effects of ferulic acid on the skin, there is some evidence that it can prevent or at least reduce the damage caused by excessive sun exposure.
According to a 2013 study published in PLoS One, a topical ointment containing ferulic acid and vitamin E reduced skin lesions by approximately 20% in mice exposed to intense ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. On its own, vitamin E actually increases the number of injuries by approximately 15% .
While this might suggest that ferulic acid can reverse sun damage, the researchers never included mice tested with ferulic acid alone. Therefore, research can only suggest that ferulic acid may reduce the damage that vitamin E can do to severely sun-damaged skin. More research is required.
High blood pressure
Ferulic acid may help lower blood pressure, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology. Hypertensive rats treated with ferulic acid for eight weeks experienced significant reductions in systolic blood pressure, along with improved blood flow to the kidneys and decreased stiffness in the heart's left ventricle (where blood is pumped to the body through of the aorta ). the researchers said .
Despite the positive results, it is unclear whether the same effect can be achieved in humans. Also, it is unknown if the dose used in rats (50 milligrams per kilogram, mg / kg) would be safe for humans, given that a 150-pound male should take at least 3,400 mg per day.
According to a 2012 study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology , the combination of ferulic acid and resveratrol (another plant-derived antioxidant) increased the activity of a compound known as nuclear factor-kB (NF-kB) in mice. Among its many functions, NF-kB plays a critical role in cellular inflammation . By reducing inflammation in the liver and pancreas, the scientists concluded that the combined agents have pronounced antidiabetic properties .
Despite the positive results, it is unclear how effective ferulic acid alone is, and if and how these effects could lead to lower blood glucose levels in humans. More research is required.
Similar studies have shown that ferulic acid can improve glucose tolerance in people taking the antidiabetic drug metformin .
According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, mice genetically engineered to develop cerebral amyloidosis (plaques in the brain) were treated with a combination of ferulic acid and a plant compound known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). After 15 months of treatment, the supplements appeared to reverse cognitive decline on most tests of learning and memory .
Despite the positive results, there was no evidence that ferulic acid and EGCG were able to stop or reverse the progression of amyloidosis. It is also unknown what effect the individual agents had on cognitive decline and whether they will affect humans. More research is required.
There is evidence that ferulic acid can slow the growth of cervical cancer tumors , according to a 2018 study published in Cancer Cell International .
According to one study, ferulic acid can inhibit the growth of cervical cancer cells in vitro by inhibiting mitosis (cell division). This further helped reduce the ability of cancer cells to enter the normal cells of the cervix. Higher concentrations of ferulic acid gave better results.
Ferulic acid cannot induce apoptosis (programmed cell death), which means that it could help control cervical cancer rather than cure it. More research is required.
Possible side effects.
Ferulic acid serums and creams are generally safe for most skin types. However, people with sensitive skin may not tolerate these products well and experience mild redness and irritation.
People allergic to bran or oats may experience an allergic reaction to ferulic acid serums from these sources. Symptoms are usually mild and can include redness, swelling, itching, rashes, and peeling.
Before using the ferulic acid serum, test it on a small area of skin and wait 24 hours to see if a rash or other allergy symptoms develop.
Ferulic acid skincare serums and powders should never be taken internally.
Little is known about the long-term safety of ferulic acid supplements. As an organic compound obtained from food, ferulic acid is considered safe, although it is not known to what extent you could overdose.
It is also not known what drug interactions can occur and in what doses. For example, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that ferulic acid increased blood levels of the anticoagulant Plavix (clopidogrel) in mice, increasing the risk of bleeding and bruising.
The safety of ferulic acid in children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers has not been established.
Given the lack of research, it is important to inform your doctor if you are or plan to take ferulic acid so that side effects and interactions can be managed.
Dosage and preparation
Ferulic acid skin care products can be found online, as well as in many high-end drugstores and beauty counters. Many of these foods are found in other antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol).
While some ferulic acid serums are marketed as luxury skincare products with a correspondingly high price tag, there is no evidence that they work better than less expensive products with the same ingredients.
Ferulic acid supplements can also be found online, as well as in some pharmacies and food supplement stores.
There are no guidelines for the proper use of ferulic acid supplements. Most are sold as 250 mg tablets, taken once a day with or without food. As a general rule, never exceed the recommended dosage stated on the product label. There is no evidence that higher doses produce better results in humans.
If you are considering using ferulic acid medicinally, speak with your doctor to see if there are other more appropriate treatment options.
Ferulic acid should never be used in place of medications commonly used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, or any other chronic medical condition.
What to look for
Since nutritional supplements are not strictly regulated in the United States, the quality can vary from brand to brand. To ensure quality, select brands that have been independently tested by a recognized certification body such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab, or NSF International.
Also, always read the product label to check for added ingredients that you may be allergic to. This is especially true of serums rich in vitamin E, which in some can cause contact dermatitis .
What are the best food sources of ferulic acid?
Ferulic acid is found in some grains, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Cooking food often can increase the amount of ferulic acid in food by destroying the cellular compartments in which it is stored; this is especially true in the case of cereals. Some foods rich in ferulic acid include:
- apple seeds
- Flaxseed bread
- Naval beans
- Rice bran oil
- Rye bread
Are Food Sources of Ferulic Acid Better Than Supplements?
Compared to ferulic acid supplements, food-derived ferulic acid has a higher bioavailability because it is more easily absorbed from the intestines. In contrast, free ferulic acid (not bound to plant cells) is largely insoluble and poorly absorbed.