Cinnamon is among the most common spices used in the Western diet. But, that is not saying much since spices are rarely included in daily consumption patterns in the U.S. (1). Cinnamon is derived from the bark of the Cinnamomum genus of trees. It is commonly used as a spice or flavoring agent, but it poses a variety of beneficial health effects.
Oral Health – Cinnamon has been shown to improve bad breath (2). Perhaps this is the reason that cinnamon gum is so popular. The antimicrobial effects of cinnamon kill the bacteria that causes bad breath. It also kills the bacteria and other pathogens that are associated with dental cavities and gingivitis (3, 4).
Anti-inflammatory Agent – Chronic and excessive inflammation in the body are associated with the pathophysiology of many chronic diseases including heart disease and diabetes. Cinnamon and its components have been found to be potent anti-inflammatory agents (5, 6, & 7). Although there is not enough research to recommend cinnamon to treat inflammation, there is plenty of evidence to support adding it to the diet for preventative reasons.
Anti-cancer Agent – Researchers are evaluating the use of cinnamon extracts in the suppression of tumor growth and cancer cell death. These extracts can inhibit cancer cell growth and development (8, 9, & 10). One study even found that cassia cinnamon (the most common type found in the market) promoted death of human cervical cancer cells (11). Of course, all of these studies have been completed in test tubes. Animal and human research will provide more insight.
Antioxidant – All types of cinnamon have been found to be potent antioxidants (12, 13, 14, 15, & 16). Antioxidants work by sacrificing themselves to oxidative damage so that other molecules will remain unharmed. Excess oxidation often leads to inflammation and damage. The consumption of antioxidants is necessary to ensure the body can maintain oxidative balance.
Anti-diabetic Agent? – There is evidence that cinnamon consumption lowers blood glucose in individuals with (17, 18) and without (19) type 2 diabetes. However, this is the cassia type cinnamon. Here comes the controversy…Cassia cinnamon contains a compound called coumarin (20). This compound can be toxic to the liver and promotes cancer (20). Too much coumarin is not desirable and, for a child, could be obtained from a single teaspoon of cassia cinnamon. The other common type of cinnamon, Ceylon, does not contain coumarin BUT it also does not lower blood glucose (21). So, use Ceylon cinnamon for all the other benefits, not this one.
Summary – The recommendation to the public: EAT CEYLON CINNAMON. Make sure that you purchase and enjoy Ceylon cinnamon, not cassia. If the label does not specify, assume that it is cassia.
There are many ways to get Ceylon cinnamon in your regular diet. Mix it in your breakfast, in a shake, on your fruit, or in your tea. See my “Cinnamon Squash and Sweet Potato Medley” recipe for a healthy way to get more cinnamon in your mouth.
© 2016 NOVEDGO
- What We Eat In America. http://www.ars.usda.gov/services/docs.htm?docid=13793 (accessed 04/26/2016)
- Jakhetia V, Patel R, Khatri P, et al. Cinnamon: a pharmacological review. Journal of Advanced Scientific Research. 2010;1(2):19–12.
- Aneja K, Joshi R, Sharma C. Antimicrobial activity of dalchini (Cinnamomum zeylanicum bark) extracts on some dental caries pathogens. Journal of Pharmacy Research. 2009;2(9):1387–1390.
- Gupta C, Kumari A, Garg AP, Catanzaro R, Marotta F. Comparative study of cinnamon oil and clove oil on some oral microbiota. Acta Bio-Medica: Atenei Parmensis. 2011;82(3, article 197).
- Chao LK, Hua K-F, Hsu H-Y, Cheng S-S, Liu J-Y, Chang S-T. Study on the Antiinflammatory activity of essential oil from leaves of Cinnamomum osmophloeum. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2005;53(18):7274–7278.
- Tung Y-T, Chua M-T, Wang S-Y, Chang S-T. Anti-inflammation activities of essential oil and its constituents from indigenous cinnamon (Cinnamomum osmophloeum) twigs. Bioresource Technology. 2008;99(9):3908–3913.
- Tung Y-T, Yen P-L, Lin C-Y, Chang S-T. Anti-inflammatory activities of essential oils and their constituents from different provenances of indigenous cinnamon (Cinnamomum osmophloeum) leaves. Pharmaceutical Biology. 2010;48(10):1130–1136.
- Lu J, Zhang K, Nam S, Anderson RA, Jove R, Wen W. Novel angiogenesis inhibitory activity in cinnamon extract blocks VEGFR2 kinase and downstream signaling. Carcinogenesis. 2010;31(3):481–488.
- Kwon H-K, Jeon WK, Hwang J-S, et al. Cinnamon extract suppresses tumor progression by modulating angiogenesis and the effector function of CD8+ T cells. Cancer Letters. 2009;278(2):174–182.
- Kwon H-K, Hwang J-S, So J-S, et al. Cinnamon extract induces tumor cell death through inhibition of NFκB and AP1. BMC Cancer. 2010;10(1, article 392)
- Koppikar SJ, Choudhari AS, Suryavanshi SA, Kumari S, Chattopadhyay S, Kaul-Ghanekar R. Aqueous Cinnamon Extract (ACE-c) from the bark of Cinnamomum cassia causes apoptosis in human cervical cancer cell line (SiHa) through loss of mitochondrial membrane potential. BMC Cancer. 2010;10(1, article 210)
- Mancini-Filho J, van-Koiij A, Mancini DAP, Cozzolino FF, Torres RP. Antioxidant activity of cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum, breyne) extracts. Bollettino Chimico Farmaceutico. 1998;137(11):443–447.
- Shobana S, Akhilender Naidu K. Antioxidant activity of selected Indian spices. Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 2000;62(2):107–110.
- Mathew S, Abraham TE. Studies on the antioxidant activities of cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) bark extracts, through various in vitro models. Food Chemistry. 2006;94(4):520–528.
- Mathew S, Abraham TE. In vitro antioxidant activity and scavenging effects of Cinnamomum verum leaf extract assayed by different methodologies. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2006;44(2):198–206.
- Kim N, Sung H, Kim W. Effect of solvents and some extraction conditions on antioxidant activity in cinnamon extracts. Korean Journal of Food Science and Technology. 1993;25(3):204–209.
- Khan A, Khattak KN, Safdar M, Anderson R, Khan MM. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2003;26:3215-3218.
- Sharma P, Sharma S, Agrawal RP, Agrawal V, Singhai S. A randomized double blind placebo control trial of cinnamon supplementation on glycemic control and lipid profile in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Australian Journal of Herbal Medicine. 2012; 24(1):4-9.
- Magistrelli, Chezem JC. Effect of ground cinnamon on postprandial blood glucose concentration in normal-weight and obese adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012;112:1806-1809.
- Abraham K, Wohrlin F, Lindtner O, Heinemeyer G, Lampen A. Toxicology and risk assessment of coumarin: focus on human data. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2010;54(2):228-239.
- Davis PA, Yokoyama W. Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2011; 14(9): 884-889.