Cyclodextrin, plural Cyclodextrins, also known as cycloamyloses, is a kind of compound produced from sugar molecules, which have been bound together in the form of ring. The production of cyclodextrins is carried out through enzymatic conversion of starch, with the resultant product used in pharmaceutical, food, chemical, environmental engineering, and agriculture industries.
Typical cyclodextrins are enriched with several glucose monomers in the range of 6-8 units in one ring, creating the shape of a cone, which denote the following:
- α -cyclodextrin: sugar ring with 6 glucose units
- β -cyclodextrin: sugar ring with 7 glucose monomers
- γ -cyclodextrin: sugar ring with 8 glucose molecules
All forms of cyclodextrin, viz. alpha (α), beta (β), and gamma (γ) are regarded to be safe for consumption by USFDA (United States Food and Drug Administration).
Cyclodextrins were earlier known as "cellulosine" in the year 1891, first expressed by A. Villiers. Thereafter, three naturally occurring types of cyclodextrins, viz. alpha, beta and gamma, were identified by F. Schardinger, which were then referred as "Schardinger sugars". Thereafter, many research studies were conducted into the field, with the use of the ingredient for pharmaceutical and industrial purposes identified in 1970s. Later on, in the year 2009, a research study carried out at the lab of Drs. Joseph L. Goldstein and Michael S. Brown identified the benefit of the ingredient with respect to reducing the cholesterol level in the human body. Further studies conducted in the field brought out the good solubility feature of the ingredient where it could increase the water solubility of drugs with poor solubility properties. Thereafter, cyclodextrin got the approval from USFDA as a safe ingredient to be used in pharmaceutical drugs and in cholesterol free food preparations.
The use of cyclodextrins in food industry, apart from being used in various other industries viz. agricultural, chemical, and pharmaceutical, is quite noteworthy. A few popular culinary uses of cyclodextrins have been discussed as under:
- Cyclodextrins are used commonly in cholesterol free food preparations.
- Alpha-cyclodextrins are used in the form of emulsifiers (additives) in food applications.
- Cyclodextrin is also a component of alcohol powder, which is a powder used for mixing alcoholic beverages.
A few noteworthy benefits of cyclodextrins have been discussed hereunder:
- Use of cyclodextrin in food products helps in stabilizing the unstable or volatile compounds, while reducing the unwanted odor and taste. Hence, it can be said that the ingredient helps in enhancing the flavor and taste of the food product in which it is used.
- The water solubility of pharmaceutical drugs is increased with the help of inclusion of cyclodextrin as a vital ingredient. This consequently helps in improving the bioavailability of the drugs.
- Gastrointestinal irritation is reduced with the help of cyclodextrins. Irritation in eyes and skin also gets reduced with the aid of cyclodextrins.
- Liquids and oils can be converted in the form of powder with the help of cyclodextrin, subsequently helping in their handling process.