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Cinnamon

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This fact sheet provides basic information about cinnamon—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.

 

Common Names:  cinnamon, cinnamon bark, Ceylon cinnamon, cassia cinnamon

Latin Name: 
Cinnamomum verum (also known as Cinnamomum zeylanicum), Cinnamomum cassia

Background

  • There are many types of cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon, native to China, is the most common type sold in the United States and Canada. Ceylon cinnamon, native to Sri Lanka, is common in other countries and is known as “true” cinnamon.
  • Used as a spice for thousands of years, cinnamon comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree. Essential oils are made from the bark, leaves, or twigs of cassia cinnamon.
  • Cinnamon has a long history as a traditional medicine, including for bronchitis.
  • Today, some people use cinnamon as a dietary supplement for gastrointestinal problems, loss of appetite, and diabetes, among other conditions.
  • Cinnamon is used in capsules, teas, and extracts.

How Much Do We Know?

  • We have a fair amount of information on cinnamon from studies done in people.

What Have We Learned?

  • Studies done in people don’t support using cinnamon for any health condition.
  • A 2012 systematic review of 10 randomized controlled clinical trials in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes suggests that cinnamon doesn’t help to reduce levels of glucose or glycosylated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a long-term measure of glucose (blood sugar) control.
  • A product containing cinnamon, calcium, and zinc didn’t improve blood pressure in a small study of people with type 2 diabetes.
  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)-supported research is looking at the effect of cinnamon on processes involved in multiple sclerosis.

What Do We Know About Safety?

  • Cinnamon supplements appear to be safe for most people for short-term use if not taken in large amounts. Some people may have allergic reactions to cinnamon.
  • Cassia cinnamon contains varying amounts of a chemical called coumarin, which might cause or worsen liver disease. In most cases, cassia cinnamon doesn’t have enough coumarin to make you sick. However, for some people, such as those with liver disease, taking a large amount of cassia cinnamon might worsen their condition.
  • Cinnamon should not be used in place of conventional medical care or to delay seeking care if you have health problems. This is particularly true if you have diabetes.

Keep in Mind

  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

NCCIH Clearinghouse

The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Toll-free in the U.S.: 
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PubMed®

A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. For guidance from NCCIH on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed.

Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

ODS seeks to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, supporting research, sharing research results, and educating the public. Its resources include publications (such as Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know), fact sheets on a variety of specific supplement ingredients and products (such as vitamin D and multivitamin/mineral supplements), and the PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset

E-mail: 

Key References

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.
NCCIH Publication No.: 
463
Updated: 
September 2016

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.


NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advise of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.


U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

nccih.nih.gov

This page last modified September 24, 2017