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Gallic Acid – uses & benefits

What are the uses and benefits of gallic acid?


Gallic acid (GA) is a natural antioxidant that occurs mostly in black radishes, certain red fruits, and red onions.

It has been shown to exhibit numerous biological and pharmacological properties, including antiviral, antibacterial, and antitumor activities in numerous human cancer cell lines.

Interesting Facts

  • it has a boiling point of 251 degrees C;
  • it is soluble in water;
  • it is chemically known as 3, 4, 5-trihydroxybenzoic acid;
  • the first person to discover gallic acid was Henri Braconnot, a French chemist and pharmacist, in 1818;
  • it can be found either alone or as part of plant tannins (water-soluble phenolic compounds).


GA has a variety of industrial uses, including as source material for paints, ink, and color development as well as its important role as a standard for determining the phenolic content of analytes in the pharmaceutical industry.

Health Benefits


According to a 2014 study done at the Department of Oriental Medicinal Material and Processing, Korea, gallic acid decreases skin thickness, dryness, and wrinkle formation via positive regulation of elastin (an important protein component of tissues that need elasticity like lungs, arteries, skin, bladder, and cartilage), negative modulation of MMP-1 (also known as interstitial collagenase) secretion, and transforming growth factor-β1, a multifunctional peptide that is capable of influencing tissue growth and cell proliferation.

Moreover, topical application of GA delays the DMBA/Croton oil induced skin carcinogenesis.

Seasonal Allergies

Allergies are the result of your immune system’s response to an allergen. Common seasonal allergy symptoms include:

  • swelling of the mouth/airways;
  • stuffed-up nose;
  • itchy throat;
  • itchy nose;
  • red, itchy eyes and/or swollen eyelids;
  • watering eyes;
  • sneezing;
  • a runny nose.

Acting as an antihistamine, gallic acid can reduce your symptoms of seasonal allergies.


Cancer is the 2nd cause of mortality after cardiovascular diseases. In developing countries, cancer is the leading cause of death, while in the United States, the number of individuals who are at risk of developing cancer in their lifetimes is continuously increasing.

GA has been reported to inhibit cyclooxygenases (COXs) and ribonucleotide reductase (an enzyme that catalyzes the formation of deoxyribonucleotides from ribonucleotides) and induce apoptosis in human leukemia K562 cells in vitro in human HL-60 promyelocytic leukemia cells.

Antioxidant Properties

Free radicals occur naturally within the human body.

Some sources of free radicals include:

  • ozone;
  • mitochondria;
  • industrial solvents;
  • xanthine oxidase (a type of enzyme which generates reactive oxygen species);
  • pesticides;
  • certain drugs;
  • peroxisomes (a type of organelle known as a microbody);
  • radiation;
  • inflammation;
  • environmental pollutants;
  • phagocytosis (the process by which a cell engulfs a solid particle to form a phagosome);
  • cigarette smoke;
  • arachidonate pathways;
  • ischemia/reperfusion injury;
  • physical exercise.

For the most part, the antioxidants that are produced within the body can manage their detoxification.

Free radicals are associated with human diseases, such as:

  • Parkinson’s disease;
  • Alzheimer’s disease;
  • atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries);
  • cancer.

As an antioxidant, GA can defend the human body against oxidative damage and free radicals.

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Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a disease in which the pancreas does not properly use the insulin (a peptide hormone) it makes, or it does not produce enough of this hormone.

In the US, around 9% of the population has type 2 diabetes, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Typical symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • loss of muscle bulk;
  • weight loss;
  • feeling very tired;
  • passing urine more often than usual, especially at night;
  • feeling very thirsty.

In a 2010 study that was issued in the “Phytotherapy Research,” GA may benefit people with type 2 diabetes mellitus by triggering the release of insulin by the pancreatic cells.

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Neurodegenerative Disorders

Neurodegenerative diseases are a group of progressive disorders that are described by the gradual loss of neurons in discrete areas of the CNS (central nervous system). Examples of neurodegenerative diseases are:

  • spinocerebellar ataxias (a group of progressive neurodegenerative diseases of genetic origin that are characterized by cerebellar ataxia, including incoordination of hand, gait, eye movements, and speech);
  • frontotemporal dementia (a group of disorders that are caused by progressive nerve cell loss in the brain’s frontal lobes);
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a group of rare neurological diseases that involve the nerve cells that are responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movement);
  • Huntington’s disease – it causes problems with both movement and mental functioning;
  • Parkinson’s disease (a neurodegenerative disorder that affects dopamine-producing neurons);
  • Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia).

According to research, GA extracted from natural sources is able to ameliorate aging and neurodegenerative disorders.

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Foods & Plants

GA has been reported to occur in many different plants. Here are some of them:

  • Rubus suavissimus (Chinese sweet leaf);
  • Oenothera biennis (Common evening-primrose);
  • Toona sinensis (Chinese mahogany);
  • Hamamelis virginiana (known as common or American witch-hazel);
  • Vitis vinifera;
  • Tamarix nilotica;
  • Rhus typhina (the staghorn sumac);
  • Syzygium cordatum (an evergreen, water-loving tree);
  • Psidium guajava (the common guava);
  • Paratecoma peroba;
  • Diospyros cinnabarina;
  • Dillenia indica (commonly known as chulta);
  • Caesalpinia sappan (a species of flowering tree in the legume family);
  • Bridelia micrantha (a tree in the Phyllanthaceae family);
  • Garcinia densivenia;
  • Allanblackia floribunda (known in English as ‘tallow tree’).

Side Effects Of Gallic Acid

Gallic acid is usually safe, however, when taken in excess (as a supplement), it can negatively interact with anti-hypertensive drugs.

Also, even if there is no evidence that GA may have side effects on pregnant or breastfeeding women, it is best to be avoided by these vulnerable groups.