Parts used and where grown: Most people are familiar with the sweet but pungent taste of the oil, powder, or sticks of bark from the cinnamon tree. Cinnamon is perhaps one of the oldest herbal medicines, having been mentioned in Chinese texts as long ago as 4,000 years. Cinnamon trees grow in a number of tropical areas, including parts of India, China, Madagascar, Brazil, and the Caribbean.
In what conditions might cinnamon be supportive?
Â¥ menorrhagia (heavy menstruation)
Â¥ yeast infection
Historical or traditional use: There is a broad range of historical uses for cinnamon in different cultures, including the treatment of diarrhea, arthritis, and various menstrual disorders.1 The large number of applications for cinnamon indicates the widespread appreciation folk herbalists around the world have had for cinnamon as a medicine, although there is often no research to substantiate the health claims.
Active constituents: Various terpenoids found in the essential oil are believed to account for cinnamonÃ•s medicinal effects. Important among these compounds are eugenol and cinnamaldehyde. Cinnamaldehyde and cinnamon oil vapors are extremely potent antifungal compounds.2 Preliminary human evidence confirms this effect in studies of AIDS patients with oral candida (thrush) infections that improved with application of cinnamon oil.3 Antibacterial actions have been demonstrated for cinnamon.4 The diterpenes in the volatile oil have also shown antiallergic activity.5 Water extracts may help reduce ulcers.6
How much should I take? A tea can be prepared from the powdered herb by boiling 1/2 U.S. teaspoon (2-3 grams) of the powder for ten to fifteen minutes, cooling, and then drinking. No more than a few drops of essential oil should be used and never for extended periods of time. Cinnamon tincture in the amount of 2&endash;3 ml three times each day can also be used.
Are there any side effects or interactions? Some individuals develop allergies and dermatitis after exposure to cinnamon. Therefore, only small amounts should be used initially in persons who have not previously had contact with cinnamon, and anyone with a known allergy should avoid it. Chronic use may cause inflammation in the mouth. The concentrated oil is more likely to cause problems.
1. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods,Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 168&endash;70.
2. Singh HB, Srivastava M, Singh AB, Srivastava AK. Cinnamon bark oil, a potent fungitoxicant against fungi causing respiratory tract mycoses. Allergy 1995;50:995&endash;99.
3. Quale JM, Landman D, Zaman MM, et al. 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;24:103&endash;9.
4. Azumi S, Tanimura A, Tanamoto K. A novel inhibitor of bacterial endotoxin derived from cinnamon bark. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 1997;234:506&endash;10.
5. Nagai H, Shimazawa T, Matsuura N, Koda A. Immunopharmacological studies of the aqueous extract of Cinnamomum cassia (CCAq). I. Anti-allergic action. Jpn J Pharmacol 1982;32:813&endash;22.
6. Akira T, Tanaka S, Tabata M. Pharmacological studies on the antiulcerogenic activity of Chinese cinnamon. Planta Med (6):440.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.