The Health Benefits of Cinnamon

By on April 1, 2008

cinnamonCinnamon comes from the bark of a small Southeast Asian evergreen tree (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) and is available as an oil, extract, dried powder or sticks. It’s closely related to cassia (C. cassia) and contains many of the same components, but the bark and oils from C. zeyleanicum are thought to have a better flavor.

Cinnamon was used in ancient Egypt for it’s medicinal properties, flavoring, and as an embalming agent.
In traditional Chinese herbal medicine cinnamon is one of the oldest remedies, prescribed for everything from diarrhea and chills to influenza and parasitic worms, and is mentioned in one of the earliest books on Chinese botanical medicine.

The infamous Roman emperor Nero burned a year’s supply of cinnamon on his wife’s funeral pyre.

Cinnamon became one of the most poplar spices during the Middle Ages, and due to its great demand it became one of the first commodities traded regularly between Europe and the Near East.

Today cassia is mainly produced in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia, while cinnamon is produced in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil, and the Caribbean.

The health benefits of cinnamon include improved glucose and lipid profiles of people with type 2 diabetes and reduce LDL cholesterol.

Health Benefits of Cinnamon

  • Nutrients
    Cinnamon is an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of dietary fiber, and a good source of iron and calcium. Antioxidants found in cinnamon include epicatechin, camphene, eugenol, phenol, salicylic acid and tannins. A study of the antioxidant properties of spices determined that adding flavoring substances such as cinnamon in the preparation of tea resulted in enhancing total antioxidant activities of teas.
  • Type 2 Diabetes and Reduce LDL Cholesterol
    It has been shown that cinnamon polyphenols improve insulin sensitivity in in-vitro, animal and human studies, and according to the Nutrient Requirements and Functions Laboratory at the USDA, cinnamon improves glucose and lipid profiles of people with type 2 diabetes.
    Researchers in Pakistan performed a 40-day study involving 60 people with type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon reduced blood sugar levels (18-29%), triglycerides (23-30%), total cholesterol (12-26%) and LDL cholesterol (7-27%) in subjects with type 2 diabetes after daily consumption of 1-6 g cinnamon. The authors of the study suggest that the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes.
    A double-blind study at the Nutrition Physiology and Human Nutrition Unit in Germany involved 79 patients with type 2 diabetes who were randomly assigned to take either a cinnamon extract, or a placebo capsule three times a day for 4 months. There was a significantly higher reduction in fasting plasma glucose levels in the cinnamon group (10.3%) than in the placebo group (3.4%).
    Results from a small study (7 volunteers) showed that that cinnamon ingestion reduced total plasma glucose responses, as well as improving insulin sensitivity.
    Another study of 25 postmenopausal patients with type 2 diabetes has however found that cinnamon supplementation (1.5 g/d) does not improve whole-body insulin sensitivity or oral glucose tolerance and does not modulate blood lipid profile in postmenopausal patients with type 2 diabetes.
    Another study of sixty type 2 diabetes patients who received either 1.5 g/d of cinnamon cassia powder or placebo showed no significant difference in reducing fasting plasma glucose, HbA1c and serum lipid profile in type 2 diabetes patients.

  • Mold, Fungus and Candida
    In vitro studies have shown cinnamon bark oil to be effective against the mold Aspergillus parasiticus and Rhizopus stolonifer (black bread mold), also as a fungitoxicant against fungi that cause respiratory tract mycoses – Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus nidulans, Aspergillus flavus, Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, Candida pseudotropicalis (Candida kefyr), and Histoplasma capsulatum.
    Cinnamaldehyde has been identified as the active fungitoxic constituent of cinnamon bark oil.
    In a small trial, three of five patients with HIV infection and oral candidiasis had improvement of their oral candidiasis after receiving a commercially available cinnamon preparation for one week.

  • Cancer
    The results from a study at the Nutrient Requirements and Functions Laboratory suggest the potential of polyphenols from cinnamon to inhibit tumor cell proliferation.
  • Toothache
    Although cinnamon is recommended as an effective treatment for toothache in many home remedies, there is no scientific evidence as to support this claim.
  • Glycemic Index (GI)
    Data from a study demonstrated that cinnamon spice may be effective for glycemic control, and might help to lower the GI of food that it was added to. 
Nutrient Values of Cinnamon per 100g

Calories
247kcal

Energy Value
1035kj
Total Fat
1.24g

Carbohydrates
80.59g

Sugars
2.17g
Dietary Fiber
53.1g
Protein
3.99g

Sodium
10mg
Zinc
1.83mg
Potassium
431mg
Iron
8.32mg

Magnesium
60mg
Copper
0.339mg
Calcium
1002mg
Vitamin C
3.8mg
Vitamin E
2.32mg
Vit. B3 (Niacin)
1.332mg
Vitamin B6
0.158mg
Vit. B1 (Thiamin)
0.022mg
Vit. B2 (Riboflavin)
0.041mg
1. There is some evidence that high doses of cinnamon oil might depress the central nervous system.
2. Pregnant women should avoid taking cinnamon oil or high doses of the bark.

References:
1. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
2. Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology.
3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
4. Singh HB, Srivastava M, Singh AB, Srivastava AK. Cinnamon bark oil, a potent fungitoxicant against fungi causing respiratory tract mycoses. Allergy. 1995 Dec;50(12):995-9. PMID: 8834832.
5. Quale JM, Landman D, Zaman MM, Burney S, Sathe SS. In vitro activity of Cinnamomum zeylanicum against azole resistant and sensitive Candida species and a pilot study of cinnamon for oral candidiasis. Am J Chin Med. 1996;24(2):103-9. PMID: 8874667.
6. Büyükbalci A, El SN. Determination of in vitro antidiabetic effects, antioxidant activities and phenol contents of some herbal teas. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2008 Mar;63(1):27-33. Epub 2008 Jan 9. PMID: 18183488.
7. Schoene NW, Kelly MA, Polansky MM, Anderson RA. Water-soluble polymeric polyphenols from cinnamon inhibit proliferation and alter cell cycle distribution patterns of hematologic tumor cell lines. Cancer Lett. 2005 Dec 8;230(1):134-40. PMID: 16253769 .
8. Khan A, Safdar M, Ali Khan MM, Khattak KN, Anderson RA. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2003 Dec;26(12):3215-8. PMID: 14633804.
9. Mang B, Wolters M, Schmitt B, Kelb K, Lichtinghagen R, Stichtenoth DO, Hahn A. Effects of a cinnamon extract on plasma glucose, HbA, and serum lipids in diabetes mellitus type 2. Eur J Clin Invest. 2006 May;36(5):340-4. PMID: 16634838.
10. Solomon TP, Blannin AK. Effects of short-term cinnamon ingestion on in vivo glucose tolerance. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2007 Nov;9(6):895-901. PMID: 17924872.
11. Vanschoonbeek K, Thomassen BJ, Senden JM, Wodzig WK, van Loon LJ. Cinnamon supplementation does not improve glycemic control in postmenopausal type 2 diabetes patients. J Nutr. 2006 Apr;136(4):977-80. PMID: 16549460.
12. Tantaoui-Elaraki A, Beraoud L. Inhibition of growth and aflatoxin production in Aspergillus parasiticus by essential oils of selected plant materials. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 1994;13(1):67-72. PMID: 7823297.
13. A. Rodri?guez, C. Neri?n, R. Batlle. New Cinnamon-Based Active Paper Packaging against Rhizopusstolonifer Food Spoilage. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2008, 56 (15), pp 6364-6369 DOI: 10.1021/jf800699q. July 2008.
14. Cao H, Polansky MM, Anderson RA. Cinnamon extract and polyphenols affect the expression of tristetraprolin, insulin receptor, and glucose transporter 4 in mouse 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2007 Mar 15;459(2):214-22. Epub 2007 Jan 25. PMID: 17316549.

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One Comment

  1. mr mireku Reiney

    November 22, 2011 at 9:14 am

    30 years and got to know about cin
    namom bark just about a couple of months ago simply because it is not a common plant in my country.i need your advise as to the required daily allowance for the human boby and which kind of foods it will be safe to add cinnamom.thank you

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