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Cinnamon



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.

Key References

  • Allen RW, Schwartzman E, Baker WL, et al. Cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Family Medicine. 2013;11(5):452-459.
  • Barceloux DG. Cinnamon (Cinnamomum species). Disease-a-Month. 2009;55(6):327-335.
  • Cinnamon Bark. Natural Medicines Web site. Accessed at naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/ on April 2, 2015. [Database subscription].
  • Cassia Cinnamon. Natural Medicines Web site. Accessed at naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/ on April 2, 2015. [Database subscription].
  • Dugoua JJ, Seely D, Perri D, et al. From type 2 diabetes to antioxidant activity: a systematic review of the safety and efficacy of common and cassia cinnamon bark. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. 2007;85(9):837-847.
  • Leach MJ, Kumar S. Cinnamon for diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2012;(9):CD007170. Accessed at http://www.thecochranelibrary.com(link is external) on June 24, 2015.
  • Li X, Li J, van der Werff H. Cinnamomum Schaeffer, Bot. Exped. 74. 1760, nom. cons. Flora of China. 2008;7:166-187. Accessed at http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/PDF/PDF07/Cinnamomum.pdf(link is external) on June 24, 2015.
  • Lungarini S, Aureli F, Coni E. Coumarin and cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon marketed in Italy: a natural chemical hazard? Food Additives & Contaminants. Part A: Chemistry, Analysis, Control, Exposure & Risk Assessment. 2008;25(11):1297-1305.
  • Wainstein J, Stern N, Heller S, et al. Dietary cinnamon supplementation and changes in systolic blood pressure in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2011;14(12):1505-1510.
  • Woehrlin F, Fry H, Abraham K, et al. Quantification of flavoring constituents in cinnamon: high variation of coumarin in cassia bark from the German retail market and in authentic samples from Indonesia. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2010;58(19):10568-10575.

-NIH



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