For Patients & Caregivers
There is mixed evidence on cinnamon’s ability to lower glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Cinnamon refers to several plants native to Southeast Asia. The bark, rich in essential oil, is used as a flavoring agent and as a spice. Cinnamon has a long history of use as an herbal medicine. Laboratory studies have shown that cinnamon has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It was also shown to lower blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes but more studies are needed to confirm such effects.
Evidence is mixed: A few clinical trials have shown that cinnamon is beneficial in lowering blood glucose, lipids, and insulin levels; other studies have demonstrated no such effects.
- Stomach Ulcer
In one clinical trial, cinnamon extract proved ineffective in eradicating an H. pylori infection.
Laboratory studies showed that cinnamon can reduce inflammation. Human data is lacking.
Cinnamon is used in traditional medicine for arthritis but there is no scientific evidence to support this.
For Healthcare Professionals
Cinnamon refers to several plants that belong to the genus Cinnamomum, native to Southeast Asia. The bark, rich in essential oil, is used as a flavoring agent and as a spice. Medicinal uses include appetite stimulation, treatment of arthritis, inflammation, and dyspepsia. In traditional Chinese medicine, cinnamon is used with other herbs in decoctions for cold. In vitro studies have demonstrated that cinnamon has antioxidant (1) (2), anti-inflammatory (3), immunomodulatory (4) (5), antimicrobial (6) and antitumor (7) properties.
Cinnamon has been studied in clinical trials for type 2 diabetes but results are conflicting (8) (9) (10) (11). However, conclusions from a meta-analysis suggest benefits of cinnamon and cinnamon extract in improving fasting blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes (12).
Use of cinnamon flavored products has been associated with oral adverse effects (13) (14) (15) (16). Certain cinnamon products are high in coumarin (18) (17) content that can cause hepatotoxicity (19) and can also interact with other drugs (20).
Hydroxycinnamaldehyde, a compound present in cinnamon, exhibits anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting nitric oxide production via inhibition of NF-kappaB (3). Cinnamon also inhibits hepatic HMG-CoA reductase activity (24) and reduces the level of blood lipids in animals and humans (10). In another study, methylhydroxychalcone polymer, isolated from Cinnamon, was shown to mimic insulin by activating the insulin receptors (23).
Cinnamon extract binds to estrogen-receptor beta and has a direct stimulatory effect on bone formation (25). The n-hexane extract of cinnamon has antiestrogenic activity (26). In other studies, cinnamon extract was shown to inhibit NFkappaB and AP1 leading to apoptosis (7). It also exerts antiangiogenic effects by inhibiting the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) (22).
- Plasma cell gingivitis (PCG) and stomatitis were shown to be associated with the use of oral cinnamon products including toothpaste and chewing gum (13) (15) (16) (27).
- Occupation allergy has been reported with use of cinnamon (28).
- Use of vaginal suppositories containing cinnamon oil resulted in allergic contact dermatitis in an 18-year-old woman (29)
- Cinnamon inhibits cytochrome P450 2C9 and 3A4 activities and may increase the blood levels of substrate drugs (31).
- Cinnamon extract may have an additive effect with blood glucose-lowering medications.
- In theory, cinnamon may interact with blood-thinning medications due to the presence of coumarin.