What Is Ferulic Acid?

Ferulic Acid powder, skin serum, and tablets

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Ferulic acid is an organic compound found in the cell walls of certain plants, including commelinid plants (e.g., rice, wheat, oats, and pineapple), grasses, grains, and vegetables.

It is most often found in anti-aging skin creams, where is it believed to neutralize free radicals that damage and age cells. Ferulic acid can also be taken by mouth as a dietary supplement.

The ferulic acid found in supplements is generally derived from cereal grains. Ferulic acid can also be found in high concentrations in certain herbal products used in traditional Chinese medicine, including dong quai (Angelica sinesis), sheng ma (Cimicifuga heracleifolia), and chuan xiong (Ligusticum chuangxiong).

Dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement that has been tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF. However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn't mean they are necessarily safe for all or effective in general. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and to check in about any potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts


  • Active ingredient(s): Ferulic acid
  • Alternate Name(s): Ferulate, propanoic acid, coniferic acid, trans ferulic acid
  • Suggested Dose: Not enough data to provide a proper dosage recommendation
  • Safety Considerations: Generally considered safe used topically; not enough safety data when used orally

Purported Uses of Ferulic Acid

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Ferulic acid is best known for its purported skin-protective properties. However, only a few studies have looked at ferulic acid's role in skin protection from excessive sun exposure. What's more, these studies examined ferulic acid in combination with other products, not by itself. Therefore, it is not clear whether ferulic acid contributed to these effects or if it would induce the same response when used on its own.

For example, a couple of small studies showed that ferulic acid combined with vitamins C and E in creams may protect the skin from sun damage. One study found that the combination reduced the mutations associated with skin cancer. Another study found that pretreatment of the skin with a vitamin C and ferulic acid cream prevented damage from ultraviolet irradiation.

However, these studies are limited by the small sample number and short-term duration. While the researchers suggested that this antioxidant mixture may be a useful addition to sunscreens, more research is needed.

The best skin protection is to stay out of the sun and use sunblock when necessary. If you have concerns about your skin or how to best protect your skin from sun damage, consulting with a dermatologist is recommended.

In addition, ferulic acid has been studied for its use in Alzheimer's disease, high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), and diabetes. However, current research support for oral supplementation with ferulic acid is weak and most studies were done in nonhuman animal models.

The research supporting the use of ferulic acid is generally weak. To date, there is little evidence that oral ferulic acid can slow aging or effectively treat any medical condition.

What Are the Side Effects of Ferulic Acid?

Ferulic acid serums and creams are generally safe for most skin types. However, people with sensitive skin may not tolerate the products and experience mild redness and irritation. If you have sensitive skin, try a small amount of the cream on a small patch of skin first and monitor for reaction.

People allergic to bran or oatmeal may experience an allergic reaction to ferulic acid serums derived from these sources. Symptoms tend to be mild and may include redness, swelling, itching, rash, and peeling. If you experience allergic symptoms, discontinue using the product.

Before using ferulic acid serum, test some on a small patch of skin and wait 24 hours to see if rash or other allergy symptoms appear.

Precautions

Ferulic acid serums and powders intended for skincare use should never be taken internally.

Little is known about the long-term safety of ferulic acid supplements. As an organic compound derived from food, ferulic acid is presumed safe, although it is unknown to what point you can overdose.

The safety of ferulic acid in children and pregnant or nursing people has not been established.

Given the lack of research, it is important to let your healthcare provider know if you are taking or planning to take ferulic acid so that side effects and interactions can be monitored.

Ferulic acid tablets
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Dosage: How Much Ferulic Acid Should I Take?

There are no guidelines for the appropriate use or dosage of ferulic acid supplements. Most are sold as 250-milligram (mg) tablets intended to be taken once daily with or without food. As a rule of thumb, never exceed the recommended dose on the product label. There is no evidence that higher doses confer better results in humans.

If you intend to use ferulic acid supplements for health purposes, speak with your healthcare provider to see if other, more appropriate treatment options are available. Or at least check if ferulic acid supplementation is appropriate for you.

Ferulic acid should never be used as a substitute for the drugs standardly used to treat chronic medical conditions. If you are considering supplementation, discuss with your healthcare provider.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Ferulic Acid?

Very little data is available on dosing ferulic acid; therefore, it is uncertain what will happen in cases of an overdose or at what point an overdose can occur. Generally, if you are using ferulic acid cream or oral supplements, you should follow the instructions on the packing,

Interactions

Very little is known about drug interactions with ferulic acid. Studies have shown that ferulic acid combined with the anticoagulant Plavix (clopidogrel) can increase the absorption of ferulic acid in rats.

How to Store Ferulic Acid

Follow manufacturer suggestions on how to best store ferulic acid serums, creams, or supplements. Always keep supplements out of reach of children and pets.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can ferulic acid supplementation prevent Alzheimer's disease?

    There is not enough evidence to support ferulic acid use to prevent or treat Alzheimer's disease. Preliminary studies have shown that ferulic acid may improve memory in animal models but there is no human research on this. Since ferulic acid is found in plant-based foods, it would be prudent to incorporate whole grains, fruits, and vegetables into your diet as a way to improve your overall health.

  • What are the best food sources of ferulic acid?

    Barley and oat are excellent sources of ferulic acid. In fact, many of the supplements are made from those two food items. Several fruits and vegetables also provide ferulic acid.

  • Are food sources of ferulic acid better than supplements?


    Compared to ferulic acid supplements, ferulic acid derived from food has greater bioavailability as more is readily absorbed in the intestine. By contrast, free ferulic acid (unbound to the plant cells) is largely insoluble and poorly absorbed.

Sources of Ferulic Acid & What To Look For

Ferulic acid is most often used as a serum or in creams but is also available as a supplement that can be taken orally. Ferulic acid is also found in several plant-based foods.

Ferulic acid skin care products are found online as well as at many drugstores and higher-end cosmetic counters. Many of these products are co-formulated with other antioxidants, such as vitamin A, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol).

While some ferulic acid serums are sold as luxury skincare products with an accordingly hefty price tag, there is no evidence that they work any better than less expensive products with the same ingredients.

Food Sources of Ferulic Acid

Ferulic acid is found in some grains, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Cooking can often increase the amount of ferulic acid in foods by breaking down the cellular compartments where it is stored; this is particularly true of grains. Among some of the foods rich in ferulic acid are:

  • Apple seeds
  • Barley
  • Bran
  • Citrus fruits
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Flaxseed bread
  • Navy beans
  • Oatmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Rice
  • Rice bran oil
  • Rye bread

Ferulic Acid Supplements

Ferulic acid supplements can be found online and in certain drugstores and shops specializing in dietary supplements.

Because dietary supplements are not strictly regulated in the United States, the quality can vary from one brand to the next. Opt for brands independently tested by a recognized certifying body like the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab, or NSF International to ensure quality.

Ferulic acid may come as its own supplement or in a combination product that contains several other ingredients. Always read the product label to check for additional ingredients you may be allergic to or don't need.

Summary

Ferulic acid is a phenolic compound with antioxidant properties. It is often used in anti-aging creams or serums intended to treat sun damage. More recently, it has garnered interest as an oral supplement for various conditions, but there is not enough research to support its use.

Discuss health concerns and treatment plans for medical conditions with your healthcare provider. Reviewing the risks of benefits of supplements in addition to traditional therapies with your healthcare provider is suggested.

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Jennifer Lefton, MS, RD/N, CNSC, FAND
Jennifer Lefton, MS, RD/N-AP, CNSC, FAND is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and writer with over 20 years of experience in clinical nutrition. Her experience ranges from counseling cardiac rehabilitation clients to managing the nutrition needs of complex surgical patients.

Originally written by
Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.

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