There are many different types of cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is the most common type sold in the United States and Canada, while Ceylon cinnamon is common in other countries and is known as “true” cinnamon. Cinnamon comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree and has been used as a spice for thousands of years. Essential oils have been made from the bark, leaves, or twigs of cassia cinnamon.
Cinnamon has a long history of being used in traditional medicine for bronchitis. Today, cinnamon is used as a dietary supplement for gastrointestinal problems, loss of appetite, and diabetes, among other conditions.
Cinnamon can be taken in capsule, tea, and extract form. Cinnamon bark is used orally for gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, dysmenorrhea, and flatulence. It is also used for stimulating appetite, bacterial and helminthic infections, the common cold, the flu (influenza), and swine flu. Cinnamon bark is used topically as part of a multi-ingredient preparation for premature ejaculation. Cinnamon is commonly consumed as a spice and as a flavoring agent in beverages. Lastly, the volatile oil in cinnamon bark is commonly used in small amounts in toothpaste, mouthwashes, gargles, lotions, liniments, soaps, detergents, and other pharmaceutical products and cosmetics.
Also known as: Batavia Cassia, Batavia Cinnamon, Cannelier de Ceylan, Cannelle de Ceylan, Cannelle de Saïgon, Cannelle du Sri Lanka, Ceylon Cinnamon, Ceylonzimt, Ceylonzimtbaum, Corteza de Canela, Dalchini, Écorce de Cannelle, Madagascar Cinnamon, Padang-Cassia, Panang Cinnamon, Sri Lanka Cinnamon, Thwak, Tvak
Diseases and Conditions
People have used cinnamon for the following conditions:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Loss of appetite
- Stimulating appetite
- Bacterial and helmintic infections
- Common cold
- Flu (influenza)
- Swine flu
- Premature ejaculation
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Cinnamon bark is likely safe when consumed in food amounts and has achieved a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status in the United States. It may be safe to use cinnamon bark orally and topically in medicinal amounts for the short-term; however it is unsafe to use it orally, in high doses, and in the long-term. Consuming 60mL of cinnamon oil can lead to adverse effects including loss of consciousness, vomiting, dizziness, and diarrhea.
It is likely safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women to consume cinnamon bark in food amounts although not much is known on its safety if consumed in amounts more than what is commonly found in food and therefore it is best to avoid. There is insufficient information on the safety of cinnamon bark for children. The cinnamon bark has no known side effects when consumed orally but consumption of cinnamon oil may irritate the skin and mucous membranes. Topical exposure to the bark may cause allergic rhinitis. Cinnamon bark may impact blood glucose levels during surgery; discontinue use at least 2 weeks before the procedure.
Cinnamon bark interacts moderately with antidiabetes drugs. In theory, cinnamon bark may lower blood glucose levels and have additive effects in patients treated with antidiabetic agents and should be used with caution. Some antidiabetes drugs include:
- Glimepiride (Amaryl)
- Glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase)
- Metformin (Glucophage)
- Pioglitazone (Actos)
- Rosiglitazone (Avandia)
Supplement and Food Interactions
Cinnamon bark may interact with herbs and supplements with hypoglycemic potential. Cinnamon bark may lower blood glucose levels and may have additive effects when used with other herbs and supplements that also lower glucose levels, which could increase the risk of hypoglycemia in some patients. Some herbs and supplements with hypoglycemic effects include:
- Alpha-lipoic acid
- Bitter melon
- Devil's claw
- Guar gum
- Horse chestnut
- Panax ginseng
- Siberian ginseng
There is insufficient reliable evidence available to determine a dosage for cinnamon bark. At a dose of 3 grams per day, cinnamon has been shown to help decrease blood glucose levels in people with type II diabetes. At a dose of 2 grams per day, cinnamon has been shown to decrease Hgb A1C and lower blood pressure. At a dose of 1/2 teaspoon per day, cinnamon has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol.
Cinnamon is commonly consumed as a spice in foods and as a flavoring agent in beverages.