What Is Cinnamon?
- What Is Cinnamon?
- Biochemical Characteristics
- Cardiovascular Effect
- Gastrointestinal Effect
- Weight Loss
- Kidney Health
- Skin Effect
- Neurodegenerative Diseases
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Anti Inflammatory Properties
- Antioxidant Effect
- Antimicrobial Effect
- Respiratory Infections
- Teeth Health
- Antifungal Effect
- Antiparasitic Effect
- Hiv Infection
- Premenstrual Syndrome
- Female Hormonal Status
- Possible Side Effects
Cinnamon represents a type of an aromatic spice that originates from the inner parts of trees named Cinnamomum. It has been used in traditional culinars and medicine since Ancient Egypt.
Cinnamon is extracted the specific parts of the cinnamomum tree, and when dried, it forms cinnamon sticks. Such sticks may further form powder.
There are four types of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon seum zeylanicum (true cinnamon), Cassia cinnamon, Indonesian cinnamon (Cinnamomum burmanni) and Vietnamese cinnamon (Cinnamomum loureirol).
The main active component of cinnamon is hydrocarbon cinnamaldehyde found in the bark of the plant. The eugenol is found in leaf and camphor in the root. Cinnamaldehyde aids specific flavor and is responsible for the majority of cinnamon’s health benefits.
Cinnamon’s main active compounds are cinnamaldehyde (cinnamic aldehyde, 3-phenyl-2-propenal) and eugenol (2-metoxy-4-(2-propenyl)phenol).
Cinnamaldehyde is also present in blueberries and cranberries.
Cinnamon consists of Cinnamon, eugenol, camphor, caryophyllene, terpene hydrocarbos, alpha-bergamotene, alpha-copaene, terpenoids, Cinnamon acetate and trans-alpha-bergamotene.
In leaves there is 1-5% of Cinnamon and 70-95% of eugenol. In cinnamon bark there is 65%-80% of Cinnamon and 5-10% of eugenol. In the root bark there is 60% of camphor.
Numerous health benefits of Cinnamon zeylanicum have been demonstrated, such as anti inflammatory effect, antimicrobial activity, decreased cardiovascular risk, enhanced cognitive function and lower risk of colorectal cancer. (1)
The most prominent health effect of cinnamon has been noted in individuals with diabetes.
Cinnamtannin B1 is the main component in cinnamon that reduces fasting blood glucose, reduces LDL, increases HDL cholesterol, reduces HbA1c and elevates circulating insulin levels.
The use of cinnamon has been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disorders.
In an animal study it has been shown the effect of Cinnamon cassia on patients with ischemic heart disease. Its main components – cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid are cardioprotective. They are able to produce nitric oxide that leads to vasodilatation.(2)
Cinnamon has inhibitory role in the digestive secretion and may show antigastric ulcer effect. Its use decreases basal gastric acid levels in pylorus of tested rats.
Further, in tested animals cinnamon extract may significantly reduce the severity of diarrhea. (3)
Cinnamon may reduce the levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. It has no effect on HDL cholesterol. Thus, it is of benefit in cardiovascular disorders as well as hypertension.
Cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
Cinnamon is effective in the reduction of the insulin resistance. Thus, it is of benefit in individuals with diabetes mellitus and its complications such as metabolic syndrome.
Cinnamon decreases postprandial level of glucose interacting with several gastrointestinal enzymes. In that way, cinnamon degrades carbohydrates in the gastrointestinal system.
Cinnamon contains a hydroxychalcone, substance that may show insulin-like functions. Hydroxychalcone enhances glucose cell absorption.(4)
It has been shown that cinnamon water extract may reduce memory impairment in older individuals with diabetes type 2.
Cinnamaldehyde promotes insulin secretion, its sensitivity and regulates protein-tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) and insulin receptor kinase.
It is included in the regulation of the expression of peroxisome transcriptional factors such as proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) that control insulin resistance and adipogenesis.
Cinnamon reduces glycose postprandial concentratin and regulates insulin levels. It enhances metabolic reactions and leads to overall weight loss.
Cinnamon has potential to prevent and reduce the extent of diabetic neuropathy and nephropathy.
Cinnamon extracts may be helpful in the inhibition of osteoclastogenesis which is important in the prevention of osteoporosis in diabetes mellitus.
Certain cinnamon extracts are used in the prevention and treatment of various cancer types.
It may decrease the rate of tumor growth as well as neoangiogenesis. It shows toxic effects on tumor cells, leading to apoptosis. In colorectal cancer, it may neutralize certain enzymes in colon, thus protecting against tumor cell growth.(5)
Cinnamon water extract stimulates type I collagen production through the activation of IGF-1 pathway in human dermal fibroblast.(6) Thus, it is of extreme use in the antiaging process of the skin.
Neurodegenerative disorders are characterized by progressive loss of the structural and functional attributes of brain cellular components.
Cinnamon contains certain substances that are able to inhibit the accumulation of a tau protein and filament formation in the brain structures that lead to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
In an animal study, it was shown that cinnamon may cause the regeneration of neurons, better neurotransmitter levels and motor coordination.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Cinnamon has been applied as a homeopathic regimen in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Anti Inflammatory Properties
The use of cinnamon may enhance the anti-inflammatory reactions in the body and speed up the recovery. It has potent anti-inflammatory potential due to high level of antioxidants.
Cinnamon is abundant in polyphenols, thus it is powerful antioxidant.
The main active component of cinnamon is Cinnamon. It is active in the fight against numerous types of infections.
Cinnamon oil is used in the treatment of respiratory tract infections.
It is effective in fungal infections. It may as well inhibit bacteria such as Listeria and Salmonella(7)
Cinnamon is responsible for antifungal and antibacterial effects of cinnamon. It may decrease the incidence of teeth infection.(8)
Cinnamon is effective in fungal respiratory tract infections.
Certain oil extracts of leaf and bark of cinnamon are effective against Culex quinquefasciatus, Anopheles and Aedes aegypti mosquitos.
It may even be of benefit in the treatment of human head louse – Pediculus humanus capitis. (9)
Recent studies suggest that cinnamon (Cassia species) may be effective in the protection against HIV-1. Further studies are required. (10)
Cinnamon is able to reduce the intestinal and uterine cramps in premenstrual women due to high levels of fiber and manganese.
Female Hormonal Status
It has been noted that cinnamon is of benefit in females with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
It may even improve hormone status, ovarian function and enhance fertility.
Possible Side Effects
The Cassia type of cinnamon consists of high concentration of coumarin (1,2-benzopyrone), a substance that is hepatotoxic and carcinogenic in humans if ingested in larger doses.
In certain individuals, high cinnamon intake may lead to the irritation of oral cavity or the surrounding skin.
Allergic reactions are possible in individuals with atopic constitution.
The consumption of cinnamon should be limited in case an individual is on antibiotics, anticoagulants and certain cardiovascular drugs
- Jayaprakasha GK, Rao LJ.Chemistry, biogenesis, and biological activities of Cinnamomum zeylanicum.Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011 Jul;51(6):547-62
- Song F, Li H, Sun J, Wang S.Protective effects of cinnamic acid and cinnamic aldehyde on isoproterenol-induced acute myocardial ischemia in rats.J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Oct 28;150(1):125-30.
- Saleh Alqasoumi. Anti-secretagogue and antiulcer effects of ‘Cinnamon’ Cinnamomum zeylanicum in rats.
- Jarvill-Taylor KJ, Anderson RA, Graves DJ.A hydroxychalcone derived from cinnamon functions as a mimetic for insulin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Aug;20(4):327-36.
- Georg T. Wondrak,The Cinnamon-derived Dietary Factor Cinnamic Aldehyde Activates the Nrf2-dependent Antioxidant Response in Human Epithelial Colon Cells.
- Priyanga Ranasinghe. Medicinal properties of ‘true’ cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013; 13: 275.
- Ooi LS, Li Y. Antimicrobial activities of cinnamon oil and cinnamaldehyde from the Chinese medicinal herb Cinnamomum cassia Blume.Am J Chin Med. 2006;34(3):511-22.
- Abhinav Singh et al. Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2011 Apr-Jun; 2(2): 64–68.
- Yang YC, Lee HS, Lee SH, Clark JM, Ahn YJ.Ovicidal and adulticidal activities of Cinnamomum zeylanicum bark essential oil compounds and related compounds against Pediculus humanus capitis (Anoplura: Pediculicidae).Int J Parasitol. 2005 Dec;35(14):1595-600.
- Filho JR. Effects of plant extracts on HIV-1 protease.Curr HIV Res. 2010 Oct;8(7):531-44.