Coumarin is a natural chemical compound in many plants. Despite the compound’s toxicity, the plants that contain coumarin have many health benefits. Additionally, some medications contain coumarin. Recent studies show that safe levels of coumarin may have pharmaceutical purposes, though there is not enough research to guarantee this. The compound itself has some clinical values, particularly for modifying edema. Because of its smell, coumarin appears in perfumes and certain imitation cooking products. High dosages of coumarin can cause liver and kidney issues, so it is illegal in several countries.
In 1820, the French pharmacist Nicolas-Jean-Baptiste-Gaston Guibourt identified coumarin, calling it “coumarine” in an essay presented to the Academie Royale de Medecine. Guibourt isolated the compound from the tonka bean, for which "coumarou" is the French word. English chemist William Henry Perkin successfully synthesized coumarin in 1868. In the centuries following Perkin’s synthesis, researchers developed many other methods of creating or isolating coumarin.
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