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Health benefits of cinnamon



Cinnamon, the inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree, botanically known as Cinnamomum zeylanicum, is derived from Sri Lanka´s former name, Ceylon. Cinnamon is distributed in India, Egypt, China, Srilanka and Australia [9] where it has been used extensively as spices in food or to produce essential oils [9,10].

Cinnamon has two main types, Ceylon Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blume) and Chinese Cassia (Cinnamomum aromaticum Ness) which when dried, rolls into a tubular form known as a Cinnamon quill. Cinnamon is available in either its whole quill form (cinnamon sticks) or as ground powder [2]. Image left: See credits under reference [21]. 


Family: Lauraceae

Genus: Cinnamomum

Common name: Cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon, Common cinnamon, Sri Lanka cinnamon, cinnamon quills




Cinnamomum zeylanicum blume is an important spice and aromatic crop having wide applications in flavoring, perfumery, beverages, and medicines [10].

Cinnamon is such a dietary component that has shown to have biologically active substances with insulin-mimetic properties.

In vitro [5,6] and in vivo [7,8] studies have shown that Cinnamon enhances glucose uptake by activating the insulin receptor kinase activity, autophosphorylation of the insulin receptor, and glycogen synthase activity. The tea made with cinnamon and honey is used in the so-called hibernation diet

Honey ingested before breakfast and just before sleep time, speeds up fat burning and increases stamina levels, as the Edinburgh pharmacist and sports nutritionist that developed it claims. This action seems to be exponentially accelerated by the fat burning properties exerted by cinnamon.    

CURIOSITY: The name cinnamon comes through the Greek kinnámōmon from Phoenician [20] which derived with the past of the time in the current name cinnamon.



CINNAMON LEAVESCinnamon bark is one of the most popular herbal ingredients in traditional oriental medicine and possesses diverse pharmacological activities including antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-cancer properties [5].

In combination with other substances, namely honey, it has traditionally been used as a dietary complement to help loose weight. In studies done on mice, Cinnamon water extract administered orally for six weeks significantly decreased lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, exerting also a remarked anti-inflammatory action, possibly due to the present of polyphenols [5]. Image right: 陰香 (Cinnamomum burmanni (Nees) Blume) by Shih-Shiuan Kao under Creative Common license (CC BY-SA 2.0).



Several active constituents can be found in cinnamon, such as:

  • Essential oils: cinnamic aldehyde and cinnamyl aldehyde
  • tannins,
  • mucus and 
  • carbohydrate.

They have various biological functions including antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic effects [4,7-12], and anti-tumor activity [4,11,13].



The antioxidant, antifungal and antibacterial potentials of volatile oils and oleoresin of Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blume (leaf and bark), have been some of the properties that several studies have proven to be present in cinnamon.

More concretely, the anti-bacterial properties of the leaf oleoresins have shown inhibition only for:

  • Penicillium citrinum,
  • Aspergillus flavus and
  • A. ochraceus along with
  • Aspergillus niger,
  • Aspergillus terreus,
  • P. citrinum and
  • Penicillium viridicatum [10,11],

proving its antioxidant and anti-microbial potential [10].



Circulatory stimulant effects of cinnamon have been reported in several books on medicinal plants and also in Ayurveda [9, 12,13]. Two books of recognized reputation, ‘Indian Materia Medica’, a book dated 1955 [6] and the ‘Indian Medicinal Plants – A Compendium of 500 species’ [14] described cinnamon as an herbal drug with cardiovascular effects [9,6,14].



Hyperlipidemia is a risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease. Some animal studies have demonstrated the strong hypoglycemic properties of cinnamon [7], in spite others have shown that there is no sufficient evidence to support the possibility the LDL-lowering claim for guggulipid, policosanol, or cinnamon [8] among others.

Having said so, other documented studies showed how dietary cinnamon increases biliary secretion of cholesterol and phospholipids without affecting the bile content [9,15]. Additionally, another study showed that cinnamon extract improved lipid profile by extensively decreasing total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL [9,16].



Migraine is a widespread, chronic and intermittently disabling disorder characterized by recurrent headaches [17].

In spite cinnamon is not commonly documented as a traditional herbal remedy for the treatment of a migraine, in Ayurveda cinnamon has been named among the herb-mineral Ayurvedic medicines used for the treatment of a migraine and contained Bhasma [19] of silver, copper and mercury and many immunomodulatory medicinal herbs, namely:

  • Allium sativum,
  • Eclipta alba,
  • Cinnamomum zeylanica,
  • Zingiber Officinalis,
  • Piper longum,
  • Piper nigrum, 
  • Bambusa arumdinaceae,
  • Ellettaria cardamomum 
  • Cinnamomum cassia,
  • Ferula northrax,
  • Citrus acida

and many others [17,18].

Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is not intended to prescribe or give in any way or form medical advice, recommend or diagnose. Please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this page for more info.



[1] A hydroxychalcone derived from cinnamon functions as a mimetic for insulin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Jarvill-Taylor KJ, Anderson RA, Graves DJ. Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology, Iowa State University, Ames 50011, USA.  
[2] Effects of Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) on blood glucose and lipids in a diabetic and healthy rat model Priyanga Ranasinghe, Sanja Perera, Mangala Gunatilake,1 Eranga Abeywardene, Nuwan Gunapala, Sirimal Premakumara,3 Kamal Perera, Dilani Lokuhetty,2 and Prasad Katulanda
[3] Effects of Cinnamon Consumption on Glycemic Status, Lipid Profile and Body Composition in Type 2 Diabetic Patients Mohammadreza Vafa,1,2 Farhad Mohammadi,1 Farzad Shidfar,1 Mohammadhossein Salehi Sormaghi,3 Iraj Heidari,4 Banafshe Golestan,5 and Fatemehsadat Amiri1
[4] Cinnamon extract induces tumor cell death through inhibition of NF?B and AP1 Ho-Keun Kwon,1 Ji-Sun Hwang,1 Jae-Seon So,1 Choong-Gu Lee,1 Anupama Sahoo,1 Jae-Ha Ryu,1 Won Kyung Jeon,2 Byoung Seob Ko,2 Chang-Rok Im,3 Sung Haeng Lee,4 Zee Yong Park,1 and Sin-Hyeog Im1
[5] Anti-inflammatory activities of cinnamon water extract in vivo and in vitro LPS-induced models. Hong JW, Yang GE, Kim YB, Eom SH, Lew JH, Kang H. [6] Warriar PK, Nambiar VPK, Ramankutty C. In: Indian Medicinal Plants – A Compendium of 500 Species. Vaidyaratnam PS, editor. Vol. 2. Kottakkal, Kerala: Varier’s Arya Vaidyasala; 1994. pp. 80–83.
[7] Cinnamon and health. Gruenwald J, Freder J, Armbruester N. Analyze & realize ag, Berlin, Germany.
[8] Nutritional supplements and serum lipids: does anything work? McGowan MP, Proulx S. Cholesterol Treatment Center, Concord Hospital, Suite #210, Concord, NH 03301, USA. [9] Indian Spices for Healthy Heart - An Overview Hannah R Vasanthi* and R.P Parameswari [10] Volatile constituents from Cinnamomum zeylanicum fruit stalks and their antioxidant activities. Jayaprakasha GK, Jagan Mohan Rao L, Sakariah KK. Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore 570 013, India.
[11] A comparison of chemical, antioxidant and antimicrobial studies of cinnamon leaf and bark volatile oils, oleoresins and their constituents. Singh G, Maurya S, DeLampasona MP, Catalan CA. Chemistry Department, DDU Gorakhpur University, Gorakhpur 273 009, India.
[12] Bhatacharjee. Hand Book of Indian Medicinal Plants. Jaipur: Pointer Publishers; 1998.
[13] Asolkar LV, Kakkar KK, Chakae OJ. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants. CSI: New Delhi: Publication and Information Directorate; 1986.
[14] Wang YS, editor. Beijing: Peoples Health: Publishers; 1983. Pharmacology and Applications of Chinese Materia Medica. 
[15] Srinivasan K, Sambaiah K. The effect of spices on cholesterol 7 alpha-hydroxylase activity and on serum and hepatic cholesterol levels in the rat. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1991;61:363–369.
[16] Oxidative markers, nitric oxide and homocysteine alteration in hypercholesterolimic rats: role of atorvastatine and cinnamon.Amin KA, Abd El-Twab TM.
[17] Lead encephalopathy due to traditional medicines. Karri SK, Saper RB, Kales SN. Department of Family Medicine, Boston University Medical Center, 1 Boston Medical Center Place, Dowling 5 South, Boston, MA 02118, USA. Surya.
[18] Response to Ayurvedic therapy in the treatment of migraine without aura Prakash Balendu Vaidya, Babu S. R. Vaidya,1 and Sureshkumar K. Vaidya2
[19] Bhasma, Wikipedia article under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
[20] Wikipedia article on Cinnamon under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
[21] Pixabay image under Public Domain License CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0).