Vanillin: a review on the therapeutic prospects of a popular flavouring molecule

Vanilla is the world’s most popular flavour extracted from the pods of Vanilla planifolia orchid. It is a mixture of ~ 200 compounds but its characteristic flavour and fragrance primarily come from vanillin. While the importance of its wide usage in flavour and fragrance is well established, there have been limited investigations to evaluate its bioactive potential. However, a few studies have reported a promising array of bioactivities that could be exploited for multiple therapeutic applications. Recently, bioactive properties of vanillin, such as neuroprotection, anticarcinogenic, and antioxidant are gaining attention. Besides this, vanillin and its synthetic analogues are found to regulate gene expression and exhibit biological activities. Therefore, here we summarize the potential bioactivates of vanillin and its derivative with an aim to change the perspective from being a popular flavour to a new age therapeutics molecule.

Typically, there are three sources of vanillin, i.e. natural, chemical/synthetic and biotechnological. Depending on the source and the synthesis procedure, the vanillin is categorized as either natural or artificial flavour. Of these, the natural and biotechnologically produced vanillin (from ferulic acid as a substrate) is considered as food-grade additives by most food control authorities across the world. (Advances in Traditional Medicine volume 21, pages1–17 (2021))

figure 2