Parts Used & Where Grown
Most people are familiar with the sweet but pungent taste of the oil, powder, or sticks of bark from the cinnamon tree. Cinnamon trees grow in a number of tropical areas, including parts of India, China, Madagascar, Brazil, and the Caribbean.
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Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
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This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Type 2 Diabetes
|1 to 6 grams daily||Cinnamon may improve glucose utilization in people with type 2 diabetes.|
Type 2 Diabetes
1 to 6 grams daily
Test tube studies have suggested that cinnamon may improve glucose utilization. In a study of people with type 2 diabetes, supplementing with cinnamon in the amount of 1, 3, or 6 grams per day for 40 days was significantly more effective than a placebo at reducing blood glucose levels.2 The reduction averaged 18 to 29% in the three treatments groups, and 1 gram per day was as effective as 3 and 6 grams per day. The benefits of cinnamon for lowering blood sugar levels was confirmed in a double-blind study.3 However, in two other double-blind studies, cinnamon was not more effective than a placebo.4 , 5 The different results in these studies may have been due in part to differences in body weight, initial blood sugar levels, and medication use among the different populations studied.
|Refer to label instructions||Cinnamon is a gas-relieving herb used in traditional medicine to treat colic. It is generally given by healthcare professionals as teas or decoctions to the infant.|
Several gas-relieving herbs used in traditional medicine for colic are approved in Germany for intestinal spasms.6 These include yarrow, garden angelica (Angelica archangelica), peppermint, cinnamon, and fumitory (Fumaria officinalis). These herbs are generally given by healthcare professionals as teas or decoctions to the infant. Peppermint tea should be used with caution in infants and young children, as they may choke in reaction to the strong menthol.
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
|Refer to label instructions||Cinnamon is a gas-relieving herb that may be helpful in calming an upset stomach.|
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.7
There are numerous carminative herbs, including European angelica root (Angelica archangelica), anise, Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, dill, ginger, oregano, rosemary, sage, lavender, and thyme.8 Many of these are common kitchen herbs and thus are readily available for making tea to calm an upset stomach. Rosemary is sometimes used to treat indigestion in the elderly by European herbal practitioners.9 The German Commission E monograph suggests a daily intake of 4–6 grams of sage leaf.10 Pennyroyal is no longer recommended for use in people with indigestion, however, due to potential side effects.
|Refer to label instructions||Cinnamon has been used historically for the treatment of various menstrual disorders, including heavy menstruation.|
Cinnamon has been used historically for the treatment of various menstrual disorders, including heavy menstruation.11 This is also the case with shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris). 12 Other herbs known as astringents (tannin-containing plants that tend to decrease discharges), such as cranesbill, periwinkle, witch hazel, and oak, were traditionally used for heavy menstruation. Human trials are lacking, so the usefulness of these herbs is unknown. Black horehound was sometimes used traditionally for heavy periods, though this approach has not been investigated by modern research.
|Refer to label instructions||The essential oil of cinnamon contains various chemicals that are believed to be responsible for cinnamon’s antifungal effects.|
The essential oil of cinnamon contains various chemicals that are believed to be responsible for cinnamon’s medicinal effects. Important among these compounds are eugenol and cinnamaldehyde. Cinnamaldehyde and cinnamon oil vapors exhibit extremely potent antifungal properties in test tubes.13 In a preliminary study in people with AIDS, topical application of cinnamon oil was effective against oral thrush.14
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
Cinnamon is an ancient herbal medicine mentioned in Chinese texts as long ago as 4,000 years. It has a broad range of historical uses in different cultures, including the treatment of diarrhea, rheumatism, and certain menstrual disorders.1
How It Works
How It Works
Various terpenoids found in the volatile oil are believed to account for cinnamon’s medicinal effects. Important among these compounds are eugenol and cinnamaldehyde. Both cinnamaldehyde and cinnamon oil vapors are potent anti-fungal compounds.15 Preliminary human evidence confirms this effect in a clinical trial with AIDS patients suffering from oral candida (thrush) infections that improved with topical application of cinnamon oil.16 Antibacterial actions have also been demonstrated for cinnamon.17 The diterpenes in the volatile oil have shown anti-allergic activity18 as well. In addition, water extracts may help reduce ulcers.19 Test tube studies also show that cinnamon can augment the action of insulin.20 However, use of cinnamon to improve the action of insulin in people with diabetes has yet to be proven in clinical trials.
How to Use It
The German Commission E monograph suggests 1/2–3/4 teaspoon (2–4 grams) of the powder per day.21 A tea can be prepared from the powdered herb by boiling 1/2 teaspoon (2–3 grams) of the powder for ten to fifteen minutes, cooling, and then drinking. No more than a few drops of volatile oil should be used and only for a few days at a time. A tincture (1/2 teaspoon or 2–3 ml) may also be taken three times per day.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Interactions with Medicines
Some people develop bronchial constriction or skin rash after exposure to cinnamon.22 Therefore, only small amounts should be used initially in people who have not previously had contact with cinnamon, and anyone with a known allergy should avoid it. Chronic use of the concentrated oil may cause inflammation in the mouth. According to the German Commission E monograph, cinnamon is not recommended for use by pregnant women.23
1. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 168–70.
2. Khan A, Safdar M, Ali Khan MM, et al. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2003;26:3215–8.
3. Akilen R, Tsiami A, Devendra D, Robinson N. Glycated haemoglobin and blood pressure-lowering effect of cinnamon in multi-ethnic Type 2 diabetic patients in the UK: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Diabet Med 2010;27:1159–67.
4. Vanschoonbeek K, Thomassen BJ, Senden JM, et al. Cinnamon supplementation does not improve glycemic control in postmenopausal type 2 diabetes patients. J Nutr2006;136:977–80.
5. Blevins SM, Leyva MJ, Brown J, et al. Effect of cinnamon on glucose and lipid levels in non insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2007;30:2236–7.
6. Schilcher H. Phytotherapy in Paediatrics. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers, 1997, 80.
7. Forster HB, Niklas H, Lutz S. Antispasmodic effects of some medicinal plants. Planta Med 1980;40:303–19.
8. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 425–6.
9. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1988, 185–6.
10. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 198.
11. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods,Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 168–70.
12. Ellingwood F. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1919, 1998, 354.
13. Singh HB, Srivastava M, Singh AB, Srivastava AK. Cinnamon bark oil, a potent fungitoxicant against fungi causing respiratory tract mycoses. Allergy 1995;50:995–9.
14. Quale JM, Landman D, Zaman MM, et al. In vitro activity of Cinnamomum zeylanicum against azole resistant and sensitive candida species and a pilot study of cinnamon for oral candidiasis. Am J Chin Med 1996;24:103–9.
15. Singh HB, Srivastava M, Singh AB, Srivastava AK. Cinnamon bark oil, a potent fungitoxicant against fungi causing respiratory tract mycoses. Allergy 1995;50:995–9.
16. Quale JM, Landman D, Zaman MM, et al. In vitro activity of Cinnamomum zeylanicum against azole resistant and sensitive Candida species and a pilot study of cinnamon for oral candidiasis. Am J Chin Med 1996;24:103–9.
17. Azumi S, Tanimura A, Tanamoto K. A novel inhibitor of bacterial endotoxin derived from cinnamon bark. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1997;234:506–10.
18. Nagai H, Shimazawa T, Matsuura N, Koda A. Immunopharmacological studies of the aqueous extract of Cinnamomum cassia (CCAq). I. Anti-allergic action. Jpn J Pharmacol 1982;32:813–22.
19. Akira T, Tanaka S, Tabata M. Pharmacological studies on the antiulcerogenic activity of Chinese cinnamon. Planta Med 1986;(6):440–3.
20. Berrio LF, Polansky MM, Anderson RA. Insulin activity: stimulatory effects of cinnamon and brewer’s yeast as influenced by albumin. Horm Res 1992;37:225–9.
21. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 110–1.
22. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 110–1.
23. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 110–1.
Last Review: 08-17-2011
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2013.
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