Cinnamic acid

Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

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Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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Acidum cinnamylicum; alpha Phenylacrylic acid; cinnamic acid

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Cinnamic acid, 3 -phenyl-2-propenoic acid, is one of the most widely used cinnamic acids. It is a non-toxic, unsaturated carboxylic acid with the linear structural pattern: C6H5-CH=CH-COOH. Cinnamic acid occurs in 2 stereosiomeric forms (cis- and trans-cinnamic acid), whereas in nature only trans-cinnamic acid plays a role.

Besides cinnamic aldehyde and eugenol, cinnamic acid is responsible for the aroma of cinnamon.
Cinnamic acid is hardly soluble in cold water, but easily soluble in ethanol and ether and fatty oils. Free or esterified, trans-cinnamic acid is found in balsams, resins, essential oils (Peru balsam, storax, cassia oil, etc.).

A medical use of cinnamic acid is no longer known today. Formerly used as an agent against tuberculosis. In the cosmetic industry cinnamic acid is used as an odour corrector and preservative. Cinnamic acid and even more its oxidation products and esters are relevant contact allergens.

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