Cinnamon

What Is Cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a spice, sprinkled on toast and lattes. But extracts from the bark as well as leaves, flowers, fruits, and roots of the cinnamon tree have also been used in traditional medicine around the world for thousands of years. It’s used in cooking and baking, and added to many foods.

Types of Cinnamon

There are four major types of cinnamon. Darker-colored cassia cinnamon is the one most commonly sold in the United States. It’s grown in southeastern Asia. Ceylon cinnamon, also known as true cinnamon, is frequently used in other countries.

The cinnamon you buy at the store could be one of the two main types, Ceylon or cassia, or a mixture of both. Ceylon is easier to grind but it may not have the same health benefits.

Health Benefits of Cinnamon

One of the most important active ingredients in cinnamon is cinnamaldehyde. It’s used in flavorings and fragrances. It may be responsible for some of cinnamon’s possible health benefits.

Some research shows cinnamon may be good for people with diabetes. A review of 18 studies suggests that cinnamon might lower blood sugar. But it didn’t affect hemoglobin A1C, which is an indicator of blood sugar levels over a long period. It may also lower cholesterol in people with diabetes. Many of the studies don’t indicate what type of cinnamon was used or have other problems that make their findings uncertain. One review suggests that cinnamon might help with obesity and weight loss. It’s sometimes used for irritable bowel syndrome or other stomach or intestinal problems. But it isn’t clear that it works.

It’s been suggested that cinnamon also might help with:

But many of the studies done have been done in cells or animals.

Cinnamon does have antioxidant, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory properties, but for now, there aren’t enough studies to prove it works that well in people.

Consuming normal amounts of cinnamon isn’t likely to have a big impact on your health. It’s not a good idea to eat a lot of it either.

Because cinnamon is unproven as a treatment, there isn’t a set dose. Some experts suggest 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2-4 grams) of powder a day. Some studies have used between 1 gram and 6 grams of cinnamon. High doses might be toxic.

Continued

Cinnamon Side Effects

  • Irritation and allergies. Cinnamon usually causes no side effects. But heavy use could irritate your mouth and lips, causing sores. Some people are allergic to it. It might cause redness and irritation if you put it on your skin.
  • Toxicity. Eating lots of cassia cinnamon could be toxic, especially if you have liver problems. Coumarin, an ingredient in some cinnamon products, can cause liver problems, but the amount you’d get is so small that it probably won’t be a problem. Given the lack of evidence about its safety, children, pregnant women, and women who are breastfeeding should avoid cinnamon as a treatment.
  • Lower blood sugar. Cinnamon may affect your blood sugar, so if you have diabetes and take cinnamon supplements, you might need to adjust your treatment.
  • Interactions. If you take any medication regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using cinnamon supplements. They could affect the way antibiotics, diabetes drugs, blood thinners, heart medicines, and others work.

Cinnamon Nutrition

You may not have ever thought about the nutritional content of cinnamon. It’s true that cinnamon contains almost no protein or fat and won’t play a big role in your overall nutrition. But, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon does include these and trace amounts of many other vitamins and other nutrients:

  • About 6 calories
  • About 0.1 gram of protein
  • About 0.03 grams of fat
  • About 2 grams of carbohydrates
  • About 1 gram of fiber
  • About 26 milligrams of calcium
  • About 11 milligrams of potassium
  • About 3 mcg (micrograms) of beta carotene
  • About 8 IU (International Units) of vitamin A
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on September 02, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

 

Longe, J., ed.The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, second edition, 2004.

Natural Standard Patient Monograph: “Cinnamon.”

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: “About Herbs: Cinnamon.”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Cinnamon.”

Nutrition Journal: “The glycaemic outcomes of Cinnamon, a review of the experimental evidence and clinical trials.”

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: “Differentiation of the four major species of cinnamons (C. burmannii, C. verum, C. cassia, and C. loureiroi) using a flow injection mass spectrometric (FIMS) fingerprinting method.”

Pharmacological Research: “Cinnamaldehyde in diabetes: A review of pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and safety.”

Complementary Therapies in Medicine: “The impact of cinnamon on anthropometric indices and glycemic status in patients with type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials.”

Diabetes Care: “Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes.”

Clinical Nutrition: “Cinnamon supplementation positively affects obesity: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture: “Food Data Central: Spices, cinnamon, ground.”

Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: “Cinnamon: A multifaceted medicinal plant.”

Cancer Letters: “Cinnamaldehyde induces apoptosis by ROS-mediated mitochondrial permeability transition in human promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells.”

Current HIV Research: “Effects of plant extracts on HIV-1 protease.”

Comparative Study: “Cinnamon bark oil, a potent fungitoxicant against fungi causing respiratory tract mycoses.”

Comparative Study: “Comparative study of cinnamon oil and clove oil on some oral microbiota.”

Randomized Controlled Trial: “A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study of intranasal standardized cinnamon bark extract for seasonal allergic rhinitis.”

 
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