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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Cinnamon?

Most Americans consider cinnamon a simple flavoring, but in traditional Chinese medicine, it's one of the oldest remedies, prescribed for everything from diarrhea and chills to influenza and parasitic worms. Cinnamon comes from the bark of a small Southeast Asian evergreen tree and is available as an oil, extract, or dried powder. It's closely related to cassia ( C. cassia) and contains many of the same components, but the bark and oils from C. zeyleanicumare thought to have a better flavor.

Based on the results of one preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled study, cinnamon has been widely advertised as an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes as well as high cholesterol . However, as described below, this conclusion was premature.

Germany's Commission E approves cinnamon for improving appetite and relieving indigestion ; however, these uses are not backed by reliable scientific evidence. 1 Two animal studies weakly suggest that an extract of cinnamon bark taken orally may help prevent stomach ulcers . 2 Preliminary results from test tube and animal studies suggest that cinnamon oil and cinnamon extract have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiparasitic properties. 3 4 5 6 7 8 For example, cinnamon has been found to be...

Safety Issues

As a widely used food spice, ground cinnamon bark is believed to be safe. However, cinnamon's essential oil is much more concentrated than the powdered bark commonly used for baking. There is some evidence that high doses of cinnamon oil might depress the central nervous system. 9 Germany's Commission E recommends that pregnant women should avoid taking cinnamon oil or high doses of the bark. 10 Maximum safe doses in young children, nursing women, or individuals with severe liver or kidney disease have not been determined.

When used topically, cinnamon bark oil may cause flushing and a burning sensation. 11 Some people have reported strong burning sensations or mouth ulcers after chewing cinnamon-flavored gum or candy. 12 However, these reactions...