Gallic Acid

Gallic acid is an organic substance that occurs naturally in various foods as well as herbs. This acid is known to be a very potent antioxidant. Some foods that contain gallic acid include apples, blueberries, tea, flax seed and walnuts. In addition, gallic acid is present in watercress, witch hazel, nuts, sumac, oak bark and various other plants. Aside from this, gallic acid forms a part of tannins, which are bitter, astringent plant polyphenols.

A phytochemical present is several plant tissues, gallic acid occurs as a free compound as well as a constituent of tannin, which is a plant polymer. Animal studies have shown that this organic substance is a potent antioxidant and apparently possesses anti-cancer and anti-microbial activities. Moreover, gallic acid forms a section of the structure of several other, bigger polyphenolic compounds which comprise many phenolic groups. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate or EGCG is an ideal example of this. Precisely speaking, EGCG is a phenol present in green tea that seems to possess potent anti-carcinogenic actions.

As of now, there are several thousand known phenolic compounds and every year many more compounds are being identified. Although only plants and micro organisms produce these phenolic compounds, many of them are of great benefit to humans. Usually, phenolics are very potent antioxidants and they possess properties that can help to safeguard us from damages caused by oxidation. They also possess the ability to protect us from various diseases, including dementia and cancer. Several such phenolic compounds, counting gallic acid, also possess anti-microbial properties.

There are several larger polyphenolic molecules that enclose gallic acid as a constituent of their structure. When gallic acid is linked to other molecules via an ester connection, it is called a gallate. There are several instances of this, including epicatechin gallate and green tea phenols (EGCG). Such compounds are called catechins. Among these compounds, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is a very potent antioxidant. Several studies undertaken with epigallocatechin-3-gallate have revealed the ability of this catechin to protect us from several diseases, including cancer.

The phenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is said to be a green tea phenol mainly because its concentration is very high in green tea. The concentration of this phenol is comparatively very less in black tea, because this vital catechin is destroyed during the process involved in making black tea. It is worth mentioning here that even the way in which green tea is prepared can have a considerable effect on the concentration of these vital polyphenols present in the tea. If you add milk to tea, it will prevent the body from absorbing these polyphenols. On the other hand, adding very hot water will also result in chemical changes in them. In order to obtain the optimum health benefits from green tea, you should ideally prepare it using water that is below its boiling point and consume the tea without adding milk to it.

Gallic acid occurs naturally in almost all plants. While the concentration of gallic acid is very high in some plants, such as tea leaves, witch hazel, blueberries, oak bark and grapes, they are present in moderate concentration in other plants. The technical term or scientific name of gallic acid is 3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoic acid.

A specific form of tannin contains very elevated levels of gallic acid. Tannin is basically a complex molecule comprising several phenolic compounds. When several gallate molecules are connected with one another, the substance formed is known as hydrolysable tannin. In fact, there are many different classes of this variety of astringent polymer, which was once employed for tanning leather. Actually, the astringency of the phenolic compounds is responsible for the bite of tea. While tannin is generally present in plants, it is also found as a constituent of some type of soils.

In research laboratories, gallic acid is often used as a component of the regular examination to gauge phenolic and polyphenol concentrations in various plant extracts as well as other substances. Folin-Ciocalteau is a reagent compound that reacts with members of phenol group, but it does not specify the concentration or number of phenolic compounds in a mixture. In laboratories, scientists prepare different amounts of gallic acid with a view to undertake simultaneous tests with the Folin-Ciocalteau reagent thereby enabling it to offer the precise figure of molecules present in the mixture. Normally, the results of the tested phenolic samples are shown as equivalents of gallic acid.

In order to get the absolutely pure gallic acid, you need to obtain it from gall nuts via an extraction process. In the first stage, you need to pulverize gall nuts into a fine powdered form. The powdered gall nuts are subsequently combined with distilled water to form a paste. Then the paste is exposed to air, letting it to stand in any warm place for roughly four weeks. All the while, you need to ensure that the paste contains sufficient water to sustain its pasty consistency.

You should always keep the paste in a glass or porcelain container. Ensure that you avoid using iron, because this mineral or the presence of any kind of iron salts (compounds) will give the paste a specific color, which is very hard to get rid of. After you have exposed the paste to air for about four weeks, it needs to be expressed. Following this, you need to boil the residue in distilled water for a brief period.

Subsequently, filter the boiled water along with the paste through charcoal while both are hot. When the water and paste cools, you will find gallic acid crystals have formed. Occasionally, you need to purify the substance further and dissolve the gallic acid crystals by treating them with charcoal and allow formation of new crystals.

Health benefits

In present times, it is believed that gallic acid offers specific benefits that are very useful for people who are vulnerable to particular types of cancer or neural disorders. Findings of a number of studies on the subject have revealed that gallic acid is very useful in retraining or slowing down neural death. In addition, these studies have also demonstrated that gallic acid possesses anti-carcinogenic attributes against leukemia and especially against colon, prostate and lung cancer cells.

It has been proven that gallic acid helps to put off cellular mutations and, at the same time, it is toxic the cancer cells. On the other hand, it does not have any adverse effect on the healthy cells of our body. In other words this denotes that gallic acid may be useful in treating specific types of cancer. It is also possible that consumption of augmented amounts of gallic acid may help people already suffering from specific forms of cancer to combat better against the disease.

Aside from being highly beneficial for those who are vulnerable to neural disorder and specific types of cancer, gallic acid also possesses anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. This organic substance is also a potent antioxidant that aids in thwarting oxidative damage. In addition, gallic acid is also applied for therapeutic purposes for diseases that are accompanied with inflammatory allergies, for instance allergic rhinitis, asthma and sinusitis, as this substance possesses the aptitude to restrain release of histamine and, at the same time, slow down the appearance of pro-inflammatory cytokine.

Last, but not the least important, you can also use gallic acid as a remote astringent. This organic substance acts to narrow down the tissues and stop bleeding. When gallic acid is used internally it has exhibited effective astringent properties, which are useful in treating disorders related to the pulmonary, uterine and nephritic hemorrhages. In addition, this organic substance is effective in curing all hemorrhages having a passive nature.

Working in the form of an astringent, it has been proved that gallic acid is also effective for treating abnormally heavy as well as prolonged menstrual periods, which is scientifically known as menorrhagia. Studies have found that use of gallic acid has helped to cease incidences of menorrhagia. This is true when the individual suffering from this condition takes gallic acid in dosage of 5 grains in pill form thrice to four times daily during the profuse menstrual flow.


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