Drugs A - Z
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)
Generic Name: Cinnamomum
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
American cinnamon, Batavia cassia, Batavia cinnamon, breyne, cannelle (French), cannellier de Ceylan (French), cannellier de Chine (French), cassia, cassia bark, cassia cinnamon, cassia lignea, cassia rou gui, catechins, Ceylon cinnamon, Chinese cinnamon, chinesischer Zimt (German), chinesischer Zimtbaum (German), cinnamaldehyde, cinnamate, cinnamic acid, cinnamom--dhal chini, Cinnamomi cassiae, Cinnamomi cassiae cortex, Cinnamomi ceylanici cortex, Cinnamomi cortex, Cinnamomi flos, Cinnamomi osmophloeum, Cinnamomi ramulus, Cinnamomom, Cinnamomum aromaticum, Cinnamomum aromaticum Nees., Cinnamomum burmannii, Cinnamomum cassia, Cinnamomum cassia Blume, Cinnamomum cassia J. Presl., Cinnamomum cinnamon, Cinnamomum loureiroi, Cinnamomum mairei Levl., Cinnamomum migao, Cinnamomum obtusifolium, Cinnamomum osmophloeum clones (A and B), Cinnamomum osmophloeum Kaneh., Cinnamomum sieboldii, Cinnamomum sieboldii Meissn, Cinnamomum tamala, Cinnamomum tejpata, Cinnamomum verum, Cinnamomum verum J. Presl., Cinnamomum zeylanicum, Cinnamomum zeylanicum bark, Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blume, Cinnamomum zeylanicum Nees, cinnamon bark, cinnamon bark essential oil, cinnamon bark oil, cinnamon cortex, cinnamon essential oil, cinnamon extract, cinnamon flower, cinnamon fruit stalks, cinnamon leaf, cinnamon leaf essential oil, cinnamon leaf oil, cinnamon twig, cinnamon water, cinnamophilin, condensed tannins, cortex cinnamomi, cortex cinnamomum, coumarin, (E)-cinnamaldehyde, echter Kanel (German), eugenol, false cinnamon, gixin, gui, guipi, guirou, guixin, guizhi, guizhi tang, gum, jungui, keishi (Japanese), keychi (Korean), Lauraceae (family), linalool, Malabar leaf, Malabathrum, Malobathrum, monoterpenes, mucilage, mugui, ocotea quixos, Oleum Malabathri, padang cassia, padang cinnamon, phenolic compounds, pinene, proanthocyanidins, qin, ramulus Cinnamomi (Cinnamomum cassia Presl), resin, rougui, Saigon cassia, Saigon cinnamon, sequiterpenes (pinene), Seychelles cinnamon, sweet wood, trans-cinnamaldehyde, trans-cinnamic acid, true cinnamon, xiao-jian-zhong, xiao-jian-zhong-tang, yin xiang, Zimt (German), Zimtblüten (German), Zimtrinde (German), Zimtrindle (German).
Traditional Chinese Medicine formula examples: Bai hu jia gui zhi tang, da qing long tang, dang gui si ni tang, ge gen tang, gui zhi fu ling wan, gui zhi tang, ling gui zhu gan tang, ma huang tang, tao he cheng qi tang.
Note: This monograph focuses on cinnamon varieties that are edible and does not include Cinnamomum camphora or the camphor tree, which can be very harmful or deadly in humans in large doses, or Cinnamomum kotoense, which is an ornamental plant.
Cinnamon has been used as a spice in several cultures for centuries. It was traditionally used to relieve stomach pain and gas; it is still used for these conditions today. The bark of two cinnamon species (Cinnamomum zeylanicum and Cinnamomum cassia) is used as a spice (cinnamon bark).
There is a lack of scientific information to support the use of cinnamon for any condition. However, laboratory studies suggest that cinnamon may be useful in the treatment of diabetes (type 2) due to its blood sugar-lowering effects.
Furthermore, cinnamon and its constituents may have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties, and it may prove effective in the supportive treatment of conditions such as cancer or severe virus infections.
Cinnamon has been granted GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status as a food additive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). GRAS substances are considered safe by the experts and not restricted, as is the case with other food additives.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Candidiasis (yeast infection in the mouth):
There is a lack of available evidence to support the use of cinnamon in humans for this condition. More study is needed in this area.
Diabetes (type 2):
There is a lack of available evidence to support the use of cinnamon in humans for type 2 diabetes. Additional study is needed.
Laboratory studies have found that cinnamon extract does not appear to be effective in curing H. pylori infection, which causes gastrointestinal ulcers. Further studies are warranted.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Abdominal pain, abortifacient (induces abortion), abscess, acaricidal (kills mites), acne, analgesic (pain reliever), anesthetic (numbing agent), anthelmintic (expels worms), antibacterial, anticoagulant (blood thinner), antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiparasitic, antiplatelet (blood thinner), antipyretic (fever reducer), antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitumor, antiviral, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), arthritis, asthma, bloating, blood purification, bronchitis, cancer, chest pain, chronic bronchitis, chronic diarrhea, colds/flu, colic, cough, cystitis (bladder inflammation), dental caries, dermatitis, diarrhea, digestive aid, digestive disorders, diuretic (increases urine flow), dyspepsia (upset stomach), eczema, emmenagogue (promotes menstruation), flavoring, food poisoning, food preservation, food uses, gastric ulcer, gastritis (heartburn), gout (foot inflammation), gum disease, gynecologic disorders, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, HIV/AIDS, hyperthyroid (overactive thyroid), immunostimulation, inflammatory conditions, insect bites, insect repellent, insecticide, kidney disorders, lice, liver disease, long-term debility, loss of appetite, muscle aches, nausea, neuralgia (nerve pain), neuroprotective (protects the nervous system), premature ejaculation, respiratory tract infection, rheumatism, sciatica (a condition in which pain shoots down an leg or arm as a result of a pinched nerve), sinusitis (inflamed sinuses), skin conditions, snake repellent, sore throat, spermicide, toothache, urethritis (urinary tract inflammation), viral infections, weight gain, wound healing.
Adults (over 18 years old)
There are no proven effective medicinal doses for cinnamon. Cinnamon is likely safe when taken by mouth short-term (up to six weeks) in dosages up to 6 grams daily and in amounts commonly found in foods.
Commercially available cinnamon candy has been taken daily by mouth for one week for treating yeast infections in the mouth in HIV patients. For type 2 diabetes, studies have used 1,500 milligrams to 6 grams of cinnamon daily for up to 40 days, but there is conflicting information about effective dosing. 80 milligrams of cinnamon extract has been taken daily for four weeks, but there is not enough information to recommend this dose in the treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection, which causes gastrointestinal ulcers.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective medicinal dose of cinnamon in children.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to cinnamon, its constituents, members of the Lauraceae family, or Balsam of Peru.
Side Effects and Warnings
Cinnamon is likely safe when taken by mouth short-term.
As with any spice or drug, cinnamon can be contaminated by microorganisms during storage. Caution is advised when choosing cinnamon products.
Some people may be allergic or sensitive to cinnamon, but this is rare. Skin rash and inflammation, mouth sores, tongue inflammation, gum disease, acne, mouth lesions, and inflammation of the lips have been noted after applying cinnamon (e.g. cinnamon oils, flavored chewing-gums, mints, or toothpastes) on the mouth or face. Cinnamaldehyde (the chemical compound that gives cinnamon its spice) may cause swelling of the lips, mouth tissue, and the face, hives, skin rash, and mouth sores. Prolonged exposure to cinnamon-flavored gum may cause cancer.
Asthma and other breathing difficulties were seen in spice-factory workers.
Use cautiously in patients taking drugs, herbs, or supplements broken down by the liver.
Cinnamon may enhance the effect of antibiotics.
Cinnamon may interact with cardiovascular (heart) agents, due to its several effects on blood and the cardiovascular system (e.g. antiarrhythmic properties). Use cautiously in people with heart conditions.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Cinnamon is not recommended in medicinal amounts in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Interactions with Drugs
Cinnamon may have antibacterial activity. Use cautiously with antibiotic medications, due to possible additive effects.
Cinnamon may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Cinnamon may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
The antifungal properties of cinnamon may enhance the effect of commonly used antifungals.
Cinnamon may have antispasmodic effects. Use cautiously if taking other antispasmodics.
Cinnamon bark extract may have antiviral effects. Use cautiously if taking antiviral medications, due to possible additive effects.
Cinnamon may affect heart rate and thus may interact with heart agents. Caution is advised in people taking agents for heart conditions.
Cinnamon may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of drugs in the blood may be altered. It may also alter the effects other drugs potentially may have on the P450 system.
Cinnamon may have effects on the immune system. Use cautiously with other agents that alter the immune system. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, to check for interactions.
Interactions with Herbs & Dietary Supplements
Cinnamon may have antibacterial activity. Use cautiously with antibacterial herbs and supplements, due to possible additive effects.
Cinnamon may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto.
The antifungal properties of cinnamon may enhance the effects of commonly used antifungals.
Cinnamon bark has been shown to contain very high concentrations of antioxidants. Use cautiously with herbs and supplements that are taken for their antioxidant effects, due to possible additive effects.
Cinnamon may have antispasmodic effects. Use cautiously with other antispasmodics.
Cinnamomum cassia bark extract may have antiviral effects. Use cautiously with antiviral herbs or supplements, due to possible additive effects.
Cinnamon may affect heart rate and thus may interact with heart agents. People taking herbs or supplements that alter heart rate should use cinnamon with caution.
Cinnamon may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements in the body may be altered. It may also alter the effects other herbs or supplements potentially may have on the P450 system.
Cinnamon may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking herbs or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and doses may need adjustment.
Cinnamon may have effects on the immune system; use cautiously with herbs and supplements with similar effects.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Nicole Armbruester, PhD (Analyze & Realize); J. Kathryn Bryan, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Dawn Costa, BA, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Joerg Gruenwald, PhD (Phytopharm Research); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Heeja Yoon, PharmD (Drake University).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Cheng SS, Liu JY, Hsui YR, et al. Chemical polymorphism and antifungal activity of essential oils from leaves of different provenances of indigenous cinnamon (Cinnamomum osmophloeum). Bioresour.Technol 2006;97(2):306-312.
Fang SH, Rao YK, Tzeng YM. Inhibitory effects of flavonol glycosides from Cinnamomum osmophloeum on inflammatory mediators in LPS/IFN-gamma-activated murine macrophages. Bioorg.Med Chem 4-1-2005;13(7):2381-2388.
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Lee SH, Lee SY, Son DJ, et al. Inhibitory effect of 2'-hydroxycinnamaldehyde on nitric oxide production through inhibition of NF-kappa B activation in RAW 264.7 cells. Biochem Pharmacol 3-1-2005;69(5):791-799.
Mathew S, Abraham TE. In vitro antioxidant activity and scavenging effects of Cinnamomum verum leaf extract assayed by different methodologies. Food Chem Toxicol 2006;44(2):198-206.
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Prajapati V, Tripathi AK, Aggarwal KK, et al. Insecticidal, repellent and oviposition-deterrent activity of selected essential oils against Anopheles stephensi, Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus. Bioresour.Technol 2005;96(16):1749-1757.
Seo UK, Lee YJ, Kim JK, et al. Large-scale and effective screening of Korean medicinal plants for inhibitory activity on matrix metalloproteinase-9. J Ethnopharmacol 2-10-2005;97(1):101-106.
Tampieri MP, Galuppi R, Macchioni F, et al. The inhibition of Candida albicans by selected essential oils and their major components. Mycopathologia 2005;159(3):339-345.
Vanschoonbeek K, Thomassen BJ, Senden JM, et al. Cinnamon supplementation does not improve glycemic control in postmenopausal type 2 diabetes patients. J Nutr 2006;136(4):977-980.
Wannissorn B, Jarikasem S, Siriwangchai T, et al. Antibacterial properties of essential oils from Thai medicinal plants. Fitoterapia 2005;76(2):233-236.
White A, Nunes C, Escudier M, et al. Improvement in orofacial granulomatosis on a cinnamon- and benzoate-free diet. Inflamm.Bowel.Dis 2006;12(6):508-514.
Zhao X, Zhu JX, Mo SF, et al. Effects of cassia oil on serum and hepatic uric acid levels in oxonate-induced mice and xanthine dehydrogenase and xanthine oxidase activities in mouse liver. J Ethnopharmacol 2-20-2006;103(3):357-365.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.