INGREDIENTS & RESEARCH

Cinnamon

BACKGROUND

Ingredient Type: Botanical, Extract

Also Known As: Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon cinnamon), Cinamomum cassi (Cassia cinnamon)

Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees in the Cinnamomum group, and it contains several bioactive compounds thought to be beneficial for good health.  It is believed to act as an antioxidant, help ease muscle spasms, fight bacteria, and promote healthy blood sugar levels and digestion.

Cassia cinnamon (from Cinnamomum cassia) is a type of cinnamon prepared from the dried inner bark of an evergreen tree grown in areas of southeastern Asia (1).  The bark of Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon cinnamon) is also commonly used.  The cinnamon spice purchased in food stores may contain a combination of these different types of cinnamon, but the most common cinnamon sold in North America is cassia cinnamon (2).

Chinese medicine texts dating back to 2000 B.C. reference the use of cinnamon as a naturopathic remedy.  In Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, cinnamon has been traditionally used to treat diabetes (3).

 

TRADITIONAL USES 

Cinnamon is commonly used in health supplements today to help balance blood sugar levels.

Orally, cassia cinnamon has been used for diabetes, gas (flatulence), muscle and gastrointestinal spasms, preventing nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, infections, the common cold, and loss of appetite.  It has also been used for impotence, enuresis, joint pain, testicle hernia, menopausal symptoms, amenorrhea, and as an abortifacient.  It is occationally also used orally for angina, kidney disorders, hypertension, cramps, and cancer.

 

WHAT DOES SCIENCE TELL US?

Diabetes: Some of these studies have found significant benefits (9,10,11,12)

 

SAFETY

Cassia Cinnamon is considered safe when used orally and appropriately.  It has been safely used in clinical trials lasting up to 4 months (4, 5, 6, 7).  Cassia cinnamon also has Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in the US (8).

 

REFERENCES

  1. Suksomboon N, Poolsup N, Boonkaew S, Suthisisang CC. Meta-analysis of the effect of herbal supplement on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. J Ethnopharmacol 2011;137(3):1328-1333
  2. Nahas, R. and Moher, M. Complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Can Fam.Physician 2009;55(6):591-596
  3. Kirkham S, Akilen R, Sharma S, Tsiami A. The potential of cinnamon to reduce blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Diabetes Obes Metab 2009;11(12):1100-13.
  4. Khan A, Safdar M, Ali Khan M, et al. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2003;26:3215-8.
  5. Vanschoonbeek K, Thomassen BJ, Senden JM, et al. Cinnamon supplementation does not improve glycemic control in postmenopausal type 2 diabetes patients. J Nutr 2006;136:977-80
  6. Crawford P. Effectiveness of cinnamon for lowering hemoglobin A1C in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled trial. J Am Board Fam Med 2009;22:507-12
  7. Akilen, R., Tsiami, A., Devendra, D., and 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(10):1159-1167
  8. Mang, B., Wolters, M., Schmitt, B., Kelb, K., Lichtinghagen, R., Stichtenoth, D. O., and Hahn, A. Effects of a cinnamon extract on plasma glucose, HbA, and serum lipids in diabetes mellitus type 2. Eur.J.Clin.Invest 2006;36(5):340-344.
  9. Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 -- Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid= 786bafc6f6343634fbf79fcdca7061e1&rgn=div5&view= text&node=21:3.0.1.1.13&idno=21
  10. Khan A, Safdar M, Ali Khan M, et al. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2003;26:3215-8.
  11. Crawford P. Effectiveness of cinnamon for lowering hemoglobin A1C in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled trial. J Am Board Fam Med 2009;22:507-12
  12. Akilen, R., Tsiami, A., Devendra, D., and Robinson, N. Glycated hemoglobin 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(10):1159-1167

See the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health entry for cinnamon, the Examine.com entry for cinnamon, the WebMD entry for cinnamon bark, this European Medicines Agency monograph on Cinnamomum verum, or the RXList entry for cinnamon bark for more information.