CinnamonCinnamomum zeylanicum, Cinnamon cassia
Most Americans consider cinnamon a simple flavoring, but in traditional Chinese medicine, it's one of the oldest remedies, prescribed for everything from diarrhea and chills to influenza and parasitic worms. Cinnamon comes from the bark of a small Southeast Asian evergreen tree and is available as an oil, extract, or dried powder. It's closely related to cassia ( C. cassia ) and contains many of the same components, but the bark and oils from C. zeyleanicum are thought to have a better flavor.
What Is Cinnamon Used for Today?
Based on the results of one preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled study, cinnamon has been widely advertised as an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes
Preliminary results from test tube and animal studies suggest that cinnamon oil and cinnamon extract have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiparasitic properties.
What is the Scientific Evidence for Cinnamon?
Based on previous animal studies that had suggested potential benefits of cinnamon for diabetes
However, this study has some odd features. The most important is that it found no significant difference in benefit between the various doses of cinnamon. This is called lack of a dose-related effect, and it generally casts doubt on the results of a study. The researchers counter that perhaps even 1 g of cinnamon is sufficient to produce the maximum cholesterol-lowering effect, and therefore, higher doses simply didn’t add any further benefit. There is another problem with this study as well: no improvements were seen in the placebo group. This too is unusual, and also casts doubt on the results.
In an attempt to replicate these results, a group of Dutch researchers performed a carefully designed 6-week double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 25 people with diabetes.
The bottom line: At present, it would be premature to consider cinnamon an evidence-based treatment for type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol, but it has definitely shown some promise.
Regarding type 1 diabetes, a study of 72 adolescents failed to find benefit with cinnamon taken at a dose of 1 g daily.
A meta-analysis (formal statistical review) of all published evidence concluded that, thus far, cinnamon has not yet been shown to have any effect on blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
The bottom line: The evidence regarding cinnamon as a treatment for diabetes is highly inconsistent, suggesting that if cinnamon is indeed effective, its benefits are minimal at most.
Typical recommended dosages of ground cinnamon bark are 1 to 4 g daily. Cinnamon oil is generally used at a dose of 0.05 to 0.2 g daily. 13
As a widely used food spice, ground cinnamon bark is believed to be safe. However, cinnamon's essential oil
When used topically, cinnamon bark oil may cause flushing and a burning sensation.
5. Quale JM, Landman D, Zaman MM, et al. In vitro activity of Cinnamomum zeylanicum against azole resistant and sensitive Candida species and a pilot study of cinnamon for oral candidiasis. Am J Chin Med. 1996;24:103-109.
8. Oishi K, Mori K, Nishiura Y. Food hygenic studies on Anisakinae larvae. Effects of some spice essential oils and food preservatives on mortality of Anisakinae larvae. Bull Jap Soc Sci Fish. 1974;40:1241-1250.
10. Quale JM, Landman D, Zaman MM, et al. In vitro activity of Cinnamomumzeylanicum against azole resistant and sensitive Candida species and a pilot study of cinnamon for oral candidiasis. Am J Chin Med . 1996;24:103-109.
11. Imparl-Radosevich J, Deas S, Polansky MM, et al. Regulation of PTP-1 and insulin receptor kinase by fractions from cinnamon: implications for cinnamon regulation of insulin signalling. Horm Res . 1998;50:177-182.
12. Onderoglu S, Sozer S, Erbil KM, et al. The evaluation of long-term effects of cinnamon bark and olive leaf on toxicity induced by streptozotocin administration to rats. J Pharm Pharmacol . 1999;51:1305-1312.
26. Ziegenfuss TN, Hofheins JE, Mendel RW, et al. Effects of a water-soluble cinnamon extract on body composition and features of the metabolic syndrome in pre-diabetic men and women. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2006;3:45-53.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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