Salicylic acid is a naturally occurring chemical that can be extracted from the willow tree’s bark. It can also be synthesized, either through the biosynthesis of the amino acid phenylalanine or the synthesis of phenol. Salicylic acid and its derivatives are found naturally in fruits and vegetables, especially berries. This lipophilic monohydroxybenzoic acid is derived from the synthesis of salicin. It is an organic carboxylic acid that is crystalline and has keratolytic, bacteriostatic, and fungicidal properties.

Raffaele Piria, an Italian chemist, first synthesized salicylic acid from salicylaldehyde in 1838. Hermann Kolbe and Eduard Lautemann, two German chemists, discovered a synthesis based on phenol and carbon dioxide in 1860. Today, the compound is generated by combining dry sodium phenoxide (sodium phenolate) and carbon dioxide, supplemented by acid treatment.


A brief history of the chemical

Willow bark was known to relieve discomfort and lower fevers as discovered by Hippocrates, Galen, Pliny the Elder, and other ancient physicists. It was used to treat similar disorders in Europe and China. Texts from Ancient Egypt, Sumer, and Assyria all describe this solution. The Cherokee and other Native Americans use an injection of the bark to treat fevers and other ailments.
In 1828, German chemist Johann Andreas Buchner extracted and named the active extract of the bark, salicin, after the Latin word for white willow (Salix alba). Henri Leroux, a French pharmacist, isolated a greater quantity of the drug in 1829. In 1839, German researchers isolated salicylic acid from the herb meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria, previously known as Spiraea ulmaria). Although their extract was somewhat effective, it also caused digestive issues such as gastric irritation, bleeding, diarrhea, and even death when taken in large quantities.


Structure of the Chemical

The formula for salicylic acid is C6H4(OH)COOH, where the OH group is ortho to the carboxyl group. 2-hydroxybenzoic acid is another term for it. It is only slightly soluble in water (2 g/l at 20 °C). The amino acid phenylalanine is used in the biosynthesis of salicylic acid. We are also made aware that it can be synthesized in Arabidopsis thaliana through a phenylalanine-independent pathway.
It can also be made by hydrolyzing aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) or methyl salicylate (wintergreen oil) with a heavy acid or base.


Conclusive Uses of Salicylic Acid

There are many uses listed for this chemical, from commercial OTC treatments to flavoring oils. As salicylic acid is esterified with methanol in the presence of an acid catalyst, it produces methyl salicylate, a synthetic oil of wintergreen used as a flavoring agent.

Many OTC (over-the-counter) drugs contain salicylic acid. There are also prescription-strength formulations available for the medication. Salycylic acid has been a game-changer for people suffering from skin-related issues such as – mild acne, warts, bacterial infections. It helps unclog pores of the skin through its anti-bacterial and inflammation soothing properties. Salicylic acid has keratolytic properties. It belongs to the same drug class as aspirin (salicylates). It functions by increasing skin moisture and breaking down the agent that allows skin cells to bind together. This facilitates the removal of skin cells.

According to relevant studies and experiments, Salicylic acid, a central compound in the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs aspirin and diflunisal, has been linked to a new mechanism that inhibits inflammation and tumor growth in cancer, according to researchers. Both salicylic acid and diflunisal inhibit two main proteins that regulate gene expression in the body. By inhibiting these proteins, the two medications prevent other proteins involved in inflammation and cell formation, including one related to leukemia, from activating.

Salicylic acid is essential in plant growth and development for important physiological roles such as increasing the plant’s response to stress conditions (biotic and abiotic) by increasing the plant’s resistance to System Acquired Resistance (SAR) by triggering or changing the plant’s internal paper dissection endogenous signaling to withstand a wide range of stresses. The most significant consequence of salicylic acid is that it stimulates antioxidant development. An antioxidant that protects against the effects of free radicals from the group Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) when subjected to heat and stress. Drought stress and inhibits the oxidation of algebraic, oxytin, and cytokinein, as well as having a genetic function.

Salicylic Acid can also be found in anti-dandruff shampoos. Due to its anti-bacterial properties and moisturizing components, it prevents the deposition of sebum around hair follicles on the call. Hence preventing dead skin accumulation and flakiness of the scalp.



We have hence established the use of this multifaceted chemical compound that helps get rid of dandruff, soothes the skin, and rips it of impurities in the form of blackheads, acne, etc. It is an essential naturally occurring chemical compound that can also be formulated through human effort.


Everyday Compounds – Salicylic Acid

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