Chemically, phenols are quite similar to alcohols except they have one difference. Phenols form stronger hydrogen bonds and therefore, these are widely used in industries. Also, phenols are more soluble in water with a higher boiling point than alcohol. Phenols are highly toxic and caustic and are usually colorless liquid at room temperature. Different types of phenols are used in household products as intermediaries for synthesis. The most commonly used products that contain phenol are household disinfectants and mouthwash. Phenols have been derived since 1860s and were used as early disinfectants. Talking about the industrial use of phenols, these were used as starting agents for producing plastics, explosives, and drugs. Although phenol can be extracted from certain natural sources such as different types of plants, it is also produced artificially to fulfill high industrial demand.
Due to being used in a variety of end-use consumer products and industrial applications, the global phenol market price remains steady. The global phenol market is growing at a steady pace with a compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 3.4 percent and it is expected to maintain the same growth rate till 2022. Similarly, the phenol market size is also expected to reach at $14.4 billion by 2022 as well. The global market is not very consolidated and it is fairly distributed throughout the globe. APAC holds the maximum market share of 51 percent whereas North America and European Union followed with 21 percent and 23 percent market share respectively.
Health Benefits of Phenol:
Phenol is an organic compound which can be toxic if consumed orally in high doses. However, phenols come in different compounds that affect human body differently. Nonetheless, consuming phenol in micro quantities can cure certain physical conditions and actually benefit the human body. Here is a look at how phenols can be beneficial for your health.
- Cancer Prevention: Specific variants/compounds of phenol are being tested as cancer chemopreventive that have the ability to reduce the risk of cancer in human body. Compounds such as Epigallocatechin-3 are found in green tea which is considered a cancer chemopreventive. Similarly, flavonoids that are commonly found in plants are also believed to have anti-cancer effects according to the ‘British Journal of Nutrition’.
- Phenol Injections: These are widely used in conditions like muscle spasticity. This is a neuro-spasm condition in which the brain is not being able to properly communicate to spinal cord and nerves. In this condition, the muscles become tight and are unable to move properly. Muscle spasticity is not a disease as it is more of a symptom caused by diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, brain trauma, or cerebral palsy. Phenol injections will restrict the signals causing contractions. This is similar to Botox treatment but phenol injections work better for large muscles.
- Antioxidant Effects: Another established fact about plant phenols is that they have antioxidant effects. Plant phenols are reactive to free radicals and these capture free radicals before they can deal severe damage to human body. Tow commonly known phenols with antioxidant properties are tocopherol and flavonoids. Another phenol compound Resveratrol is found in grape skins and red wine, also has anti-cancer properties.
- Age in a Healthy Way: Resveratrol a commonly found plant phenol is being studied for its life increasing properties. Resveratrol is found to increase the lifespan of yeast, fruit flies, and other living organisms. This has been evident through many experiments that other phenolic compounds also show similar results. As it has been published in many medical journals that plant phenols can minimize the damage caused to the DNA and promote healthy aging.
- Oral Analgesics: Many OTC medicines and oral analgesic include phenol compounds that reduce pain and/or irritation around the mouth and lip area. These are short-term symptom relief products in conditions such as pharyngitis or a similar viral/bacterial infection. Phenol-based OTC medicines are widely available for mouth and throat related issues. These are also non-toxic and safe if used in prescribed small doses.
As oral analgesics, phenol injections are also used in sore throat and/or canker sores. OTC phenol sprays are amazingly effective in such situations that are also easily available. However, phenol sprays can be quite unsafe if used for more than a couple of days. These are also not prescribed to children younger than the age of 3.
A widely used plant extract, phenol is used in a wide variety of consumer and industrial products. Therefore, the market has witnessed a decent growth in recent times and with growing consumer segment the chemical will certainly witness higher demand in the next 5 years. The rising demand is also a result of increasing awareness about health and hygiene in the people across the globe. Similarly, the increased use of different types of phenol in disinfectants and OTC medicines has also promoted market demand and supply.