Common Names: cinnamon, cinnamon bark, Ceylon cinnamon, cassia cinnamon
Latin Name: Cinnamomum verum (also known as Cinnamomum zeylanicum), Cinnamomum cassia
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.
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.
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.
The National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health is a branch of the National Institutes of Health. This fact sheet is very middle of the road as might be expected from a government site. However, it minimizes the risk of liver disease from taking the most common form of cinnamon, Cassia. A 150 pound man taking as little as a ¼ teaspoon daily could suffer liver damage from the levels of coumarin naturally occurring in Cassia. Coumarin has been a banned substance in the United States for several years. However, foods naturally containing coumarin are not regulated. This should give you pause as Cassia cinnamon is the most popular form on today’s market, sold in every grocery and health food store.
Use Ceylon cinnamon for foods and supplementation. It’s a bit more expensive than Cassia cinnamon, but the levels of coumarin are much lower.
Source: National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health