Several shikimic acid benefits have been identified through clinical studies. Shikimic acid is the major intermediate for antiviral drug, Tamiflu or oseltamivir’s synthesis. It is usually extracted from some plants or produced through chemical synthesis or microbial fermentation. Currently, much of shikimic acid’s supply comes from Chinese star anise or Illicium verum’s seeds. The star anise tree takes about 6 years after planting to start bearing fruits. Shikimic acid has several benefits including its use in treating fungal infections, as an antioxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-viral medication. However, it has side effects too which include swelling, blisters and swelling when applied on the skin. Nevertheless, when used properly, Shikimic acid is safe and effective.
Use shikimic acid to treat fungal infections
A study that was published in a Korean Journal of Medical Mycology, shikimic acid which is the main extract from the Chinese star anise shows anti-fungal properties. This makes it an effective treatment for fungal infections. The mechanism behind this activity of shikimic acid is its ability to restore the balance between fungi and bacteria in the intestinal tract. Candida albicans is the yeast that grows in the intestinal tract whenever there is an imbalance between fungi and bacteria. If the yeast growth is not controlled, a condition called candidacies, which is a serious complication, develops. Shikimic acid restores the balance between fungi and bacteria preventing this condition.
Use shikimic acid as an antioxidant
Antioxidants refer to compounds that offer protection to body cells against the damage that is caused by environmental toxins that include free radicals and tobacco fumes. Free radicals are caused whenever food is broken down by the body and they can cause various medical problems including cancer and heart disease. According to the animal study that was published in 2007 by Chemico-Biological Interactions journal, scientists established that shikimic acid extracts from star anise reduce cancer development cases following exposure to various carcinogens. The mechanism behind this is the ability of shikimic acid to act as an antioxidant that destroys free radicals in the body. However, although this extract from star anise was considered promising in the treatment of cancer, further studies need to be done in humans.
Use shikimic acid as an anti-viral medication
An article that was published in the Alternative Medicine Studies journal showed that the high concentration of Shikimic acid in the Chinese star anise made it an effective anti-viral medication. A study that was published in the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience in April 2015 established that the mechanism behind this activity of Shikimic acid is its ability to improve the immune function. However, it should be used with other antioxidants to yield more benefits.
Use shikimic acid as an anti-bacterial treatment
A study by Taiwan scientists that was published in the Journal of Medicinal Food established that shikimic acid can be used as an anti-bacterial treatment. The study found the acid effective in fighting bacteria strains that are resistant to drugs. The scientific mechanism behind this activity is the presence of anti-microbial derivatives in the acid. However, further studies should be done to determine the effectiveness of skimic acid as an anti-bacterial treatment.
Potential side effects
Although there are many shikimic acid benefits, there are also possible side effects of its use. They include scaling, swelling and blisters.
How to avoid shikimic acid side effects
To avoid these side effects, use shikimic acid according to the prescription of the manufacturer or physician. Also consult your healthcare provider before using it. Breastfeeding and pregnant women should also avoid shikimic acid because there is no adequate information regarding its effects on them.
- Korean Journal of Medical Mycology: Antifungal effects of Illicium verum extract and essential Foeniculum vulgare oils against the Candida albicans
- Chemico-Biological Interactions: Star anise chemo-preventative effect in hepato-carcinogenesis promoted by phenobarbital and N-nitrosodiethylamine initiated
- JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR NEUROSCIENCE: Quercitin and shikimic acid immunodulatory activity in comparison to oseltamivir (Tamiflu) in the 2008 in vitro model
- Journal of Medicinal Food: Antibacterial activity of Illicium veram towards anti-biotic resistant pathogens and its chemical composition