Cinnamon

 

Cinnamon is best known as a spice, sprinkled on toast and lattes. But extracts from the bark of the cinnamon tree have also been used in traditional medicine around the world.

There are many types of cinnamon, but darker-colored cassia is the one most commonly sold in the United States. Ceylon cinnamon, also known as true cinnamon, is frequently found in other countries.

Does Cinnamon Have Health Benefits?

Some research shows cassia cinnamon may lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. But other studies haven’t found a benefit. There’s also no proof that cinnamon can lower cholesterol or treat yeast infections in people with HIV.

Cinnamon also shows promise as an antioxidant, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory, but for now, there aren’t enough studies to prove it can help.

How Much Cinnamon Should You Take?

Because cinnamon is an unproven 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. Very high doses might be toxic.

Can You Get Cinnamon Naturally From Foods?

Cinnamon is added to countless foods. 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 work as well for diabetes.

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 thinnersheart medicines, and others work.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on September 16, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

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

Natural Standard Patient Monograph: “Cinnamon.”

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center web site: “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.”

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