Cinnamomum spp.

Cinnamon

Cinnamomum spp.

Cinnamon

A powder from the curled bark of the Cinnamon tree, called quills, is a common household spice worldwide. Cinnamomum spp. is a tropical tree that can grow to be larger than 50 feet tall in its natural state, however cultivated cinnamon is pruned to encourage new shoots to maximize the accessibility and harvest of the bark. As a member of the Lauraceae family, cinnamon is related to the aromatic Laurus nobilis, commonly known as bay leaf, and Sassafras. Due to some similarities in constituents and aroma, Sassafras is sometimes substituted for cinnamon as a spice. Interestingly, avocado (Persea americana) is also a member of the Lauraceae family. There are currently 9 species within the Cinnamomum genus (taxonomy is ever-changing), and Ceylon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), Indonesian (Cinnamomum burmanii), and Chinese cassia (Cinnamomum cassia) are the species most commonly found in commerce. The term “cassia” is confusing because any species of cinnamon that is not Cinnamomum zeylanicum, known as “true” cinnamon, is referred to as cassia. However, there are varieties known as ‘cassia’ that have very high levels of coumarin, such as Chinese cassia, and some varieties sold as ‘cassia’ that tend to have lower levels of coumarin, such as Indonesian cinnamon. Verifying cinnamon species can be complex, since it has been found in the past that species of cinnamon in the marketplace can be mixed in the supply chain. Testing cinnamon for coumarin content is one way to ensure that one does not use cinnamon that may have been adulterated undesirable with varieties.

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Traditional Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Digestive Support, Glycemic Support, Heart Support

What is Cinnamon Used for?

For as many culinary uses that exist for Cinnamon, there are an equal amount of medicinal uses. Western herbalism, Middle Eastern herbalism, Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and Ayurvedic medicine employ Cinnamon for similar purposes. Uses include supporting digestion, blood function, glycemic response, immune response, and menstruation. In TCM, Cinnamon bark is said to tonify the kidney yang, dispel cold, warm and support abdominal organs, and encourage Qi and blood. Cinnamon bark contains a unique mixture of different constituents, allowing it a niche position in herbal formulations. As a mucilage containing herb, cinnamon can be used as a demulcent to sooth the GI tract, and as a tannin containing herb, it can help to astringe and tone the tissues of the GI tract. These actions paired with the warming volatile oils that stimulate blood flow to the digestive lining, deliver a balanced and diffusive action that can be supportive for digestive organs and for cold, stagnant, ‘kapha’ constitutions and conditions. Modern research has demonstrated that cinnamon supplementation can be helpful in supporting healthy blood pressure and cholesterol in healthy adults. In another study on healthy adults that showed cinnamon tea consumption to support healthy blood glucose levels, an analysis of the tea also showed it to have appreciable antioxidant content. Cinnamon supplementation has also been shown to support a normal and healthy menstrual cycle without side effects when compared to placebo.

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Active Constituents of Cinnamon

Mucilage, tannins, polyphenols, volatile oils (cinnamaldehyde, eugenol)

Parts Used

Bark

Additional Resources

1. “Cinnamomum .” ITIS Standard Report, Integrated Taxonomic Information System, 2011, https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=18174#null. 2. Conrad, Michayla. Cinnamomum spp. Monograph for Materia Medica II, Bastyr University. 2016. 3. Wood, Matthew. The Earthwise Herbal: The Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. North Atlantic Books: Berkeley, CA. 2008. 4. Tilgner, Dr. Sharol Marie. Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth. 2009. Wise Acres LLC: Pleasant Hill, OR. 5. Kapoor L, ed. CRC Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1990. 6. Nadkarni, K.M. Dr. K.M. Nadkarni’s Indian Materia Medica. Vol. 1. 3rd Edition. Bombay Popular Prakashan. 1976. 7. Nadkarni, K.M. Dr. K.M. Nadkarni’s Indian Materia Medica. Vol. 1. 3rd Edition. Bombay Popular Prakashan. 1976. 8. Jain, S.K., DeFilipps, R.A. Medicinal Plants of India. Vol 1. 1991. P. 86. Reference Publications Inc., Algonac, MI. 9. Ranasinghe, Priyanga, et al. “Evaluation of Pharmacodynamic Properties and Safety of Cinnamomum Zeylanicum (Ceylon Cinnamon) in Healthy Adults: a Phase I Clinical Trial.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 17, no. 1, 2017, doi:10.1186/s12906-017-2067-7. 10. G. Singh, S.Maurya,M. P. deLampasona, and C. A. N. Catalan, A comparison of chemical, antioxidant and antimicrobial studies of cinnamon leaf and bark volatile oils, oleoresins and their constituents,” Food and Chemical Toxicology, vol. 45, no. 9, pp. 1650–1661, 2007. 11. Rao, Pasupuleti Visweswara, and Siew Hua Gan. “Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2014, 2014, pp. 1–12., doi:10.1155/2014/642942. 12. Bernardo, Maria Alexandra, et al. “Effect of Cinnamon Tea on Postprandial Glucose Concentration.” vol. 2015, 2015, pp. 1–6., doi:10.1155/2015/913651. 13. Quisumbing, Dr. Eduardo. Medicinal Plants of the Philippines. Katha Publishing Co, Inc., JMC Press, Inc. Quezon City, Philippines. 14. Jahangirifar, Maryam, et al. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, vol. 33, 2018, pp. 56–60., doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.08.001. 15. Jaafarpour, Molouk, et al. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, vol. 17, no. 4, 2015, doi:10.5812/ircmj.17(4)2015.27032. 16. Chen, J.K., & Chen, T.T. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. 2004. Art of Medicine Press. City of Industry, CA. P. 17. Ghaanfar, S.A. Handbook of Arabian Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1994. P. 129

Important Precautions

Not for use during pregnancy or lactation. If you have a medical condition or take medications please consult your doctor prior to use.

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

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