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Cinnamomum cassia Cinnamomum verum

A Technical Monograph
© Mimi Hernandez, MS, RH (AHG), 2008

Botanical Family: Lauraceae
•Botanical nomenclature: Cinnamomum verum J. Presl (USDA)
Subspecies: Var. subcordata Nees, Var. verum
Synonym: Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blume
Common Names:
Cinnamon (AHPA), Ceylon cinnamon, True cinnamon, Seychelles cinnamon,
Zimtrinde (German), Canneliers de Ceylan (French), Cannella (Italian), Canela
(BHP, 1983)
•Botanical nomenclature: Cinnamomum aromaticum Nees (USDA)
Synonym: Cinnamomum cassia J. Presl, Cinnamomum cassia Blume
Common Names:
Cassia (AHPA), Cinnamon (US), Cassia cinnamon, Cassia bark, Cassia lignea,
Bastard cinnamon, Chinese cinnamon, rou gui-cortex cinnamon bark(China), Gui
Zhi-ramulus cinnamon twigs (China), nikkei (Japanese), yukgye (Korean), qing
hua gui (Vietnamese), Chinesischer zimt (German), Canneliers de Chine
(French), Corteccia di Cassia (Italian), Corteza de Casia (Spanish).
(Benski, Clavey, Stoger, & gamble, 2004; BHP, 1983; Chen & Chen, 2003).
•Ceylon cinnamon consists of the dried inner bark, freed from the outer cork and
the underlying parenchyma of Cinnamomum verum J. Presl , and contains no
less than 1% essential oil consisting of 65-80% cinnamaldehyde along with
eugenol, and trans-cinnamic acid (BHP, 1983; Wichtl, 1994).
•Cassia cinnamon consists of the dried bark of Cinnamomum aromaticum Nees
and contains 1-2% Essential oil consisting of about 75% cinnamaldehyde (BHP,
Botanical Identification:
Cinnamomum verum J. Presl
This small semi-tropical evergreen tree grows up to 30 feet. Its tough, leathery,
opposite or rarely alternate leaves are ovate to ovate-lanceolate, acuminate, and
up to 7 inches long (7.5-20cm long by 3.8-7.5 cm wide) with an acute or rounded
base and 3-5 main nerves from the base. Their appearance is dark green and
shiny above and pale beneath, and they smell like cloves when rubbed. Petioles
are 1.3-2.5 cm long and flattened above. The inconspicuous, yellowish flowers
are arranged in lax panicles as long or longer than the leaves with long pedicels.
The perianth is 5-6mm long with a 2.5mm tube. The fruits are 1.3-1.7 cm long,
ovoid, slightly fleshy, and dark purple. The bark is papery, smooth, thick, and
pale, and has the odor of cinnamon and camphor. The young shoots are
speckled with dark green and light orange colors. The subspecies, Var.
subcordata Nees is characterized by its ovate, subcordate leaves, while the Var.
verum has oblong or elliptic leaves pointed at both ends (Evans, 2002; Mukerji,
1953; USD, 1918, 1926; Wichtl, 1994).
Cinnamomum aromaticum Nees
This tropical evergreen tree grows up to 50 feet high. Its thick, leathery, alternate
leaves are oblong, elliptical-oval, or oblong-lanceolate with a rounded base and
acuminate tip. They are 3-6 inches long (8-15cm long by 3-4 cm wide), entire,
and 3 nerved with a petiole of 10mm long. The flowers are arranged on an
influorescence with a densely hairy panicle as long as the leaves. The small
flowers are yellowish and white in cymes of 2-5 with a 6 lobed perianth, 6
stamens, and petal free. The fruit is an 8mm long red globular drupe. The bark’s
surface is grayish brown and course (Mukerji, 1953).
Macroscopic Identification:
Cinnamomum verum J. Presl
C. verum comes in 1m long bundles of compound quills composed of 7-40 layers
of inner bark quills, each up to 0.3-0.9 mm in diameter. Better quality bark
usually does not exceed 0.5mm The outer surface is suber free, smooth and pale
with a color of yellow brown to weak orange. The inner surface is somewhat
darker in color and longitudinally striated. Its texture is thin, brittle, and splintery.
The surface may be marked with scars and faint shiny long lines characteristic of
phloem fibers. Very fine spots of calcium oxylate may be seen. Stone cells
(sclereids) form a coherent sclerechymatous ring. The material should be
entirely free from cork which if present would indicate the presence of cassia.
The quills are graded from 00000, 0000, 000, 00, 0, 1,2 3, and 4. with ‘00000’
representing the finest quality and ‘4’ representing the coursest quality. Most
cinnamon in commerce today is between grades 1-4, although Sri Lanka has of
late had available quality of higher grade. The pieces of bark left over after
quilling are graded as quillings while the very thin inner pieces of bark are refered
to as featherings. Chips are composed mainly of outer bark pieces. The powder
is light brown or light yellowish brown and free of cortex . The organoleptic
quality is of a delicately warm aromatic, somewhat sweet and pungent (Bruneton,
1995; Evans, 2002; USD, 1918; Wichtl, 1994).
Cinnamomum aromaticum Nees
C. aromaticum is imported in bundles of quills. It is common for theses bundles
to have chips of dirt obscured by the quills. Cassia usually occurs in single quills
and sometimes double quills, but very seldom does it occur in quills more than
double in layer. The quills come in a length of up to 40 cm long, 2-5 cm wide,
and 1-3mm thick. The bark may appear to be rolled up on itself or may appear to
be incompletely quilled. C. aromaticum is darker and redder in color than C.
verum and it has a much thicker external layer. The inner surface appears to be
a lighter reddish brown. Its texture is rougher and denser and breaks with a
shorter fracture than C. verum. The outer surface of cassia may be splotched
with patches of grey cork from being only partially scraped and suber may be
present. The more inferior quality cassia bark is refered to as cassia lignea and
usually has more cork and a courser texture. The transverse section of cassia
shows somewhat larger phloem fibers and larger starch grains than C. verum.
Stone cells are visible and scattered throughout the outer layers and though they
are numerous in the middle layer, they do not form a coherent sclerechymatous
ring. The best quality is said to be an oily dark purplish shade in cross section.
The powder is reddish brown and contains large starch granules and cortex. The
organoleptic quality is a longer lasting acrid, spicy, sweet, and strongly aromatic.
(Benski et al., 2004; Bruneton, 1995; Chen & Chen, 2003; Evans, 2002; Felter &
Lloyd, 1898; USD, 1926).
Microscopic Identification:
Cinnamomum verum J. Presl
Microscopic identification of the yellow to brown powder reveals sclereids with
pitted and thickened walls. Lignified fibers usually occur singly but may occur in
groups. They appear thick walled and may be up to 30 micrometers wide.
Elongated cells containing mucilage and volatile oil should be apparent.
Parenchymatous cells are also present and some may contain small acicular
calcium oxylate crystals and starch granules. Starch granules may be up to 10
micrometers in diameter but are usually smaller. Cork cells are rare (BHP, 1983).
Cinnamomum aromaticum Nees
Microscopic identification of the powder reveals lignified cork cells. The cork
cells are abundant and are polygonal in shape appearing in layers of thick and
thin walled cells with reddish brown contents. Contains more starch cells than C.
verum. The abundant starch granules are spherical and may be up to 22
micrometers in diameter. Lumen fibers are present and measure up to 50
micrometers wide. The thin walled oil cells are large and oval in shape.
Parenchyma cells are thin walled as are the medullary ray cells. Numerous
acicular calcium oxylate crystals are present (BHP, 1983).
Cinnamomum verum J. Presl
1-2.5% Volatile oil containing 65-75% aldehydes (cinnamic aldehyde- C9H8O),
5-18% phenols primarily eugenol
Trans-cinnamic acid (5-10%)
Other phenylpropanes including hydroxycinnamaldehyde, omethoxycinnamaldehyde,
cinnamyl alcohol and its acetate and terpenes
including limonene and alpha-terpineol.
Other Hydrocarbons- pinene, phellandrene, caryophyllene other minor terpenes.
Tannins, phlobo tannins, oligomeric proanthocyanidins (>2% would indicate a
higher primary bark content)
1.6-2.9% mucilage
calcium oxylate, starch
Small amounts of ketones, alcohols, and esters
Traces of coumarin
(BHP, 1983; Evans, 2002; Triserand & Balacs, 1995; Wichtl, 1994)
Cinnamomum aromaticum Nees
1-2% Volatile oil containing 75%-90% cinnamaldehyde, (should be eugenol free)
hexacyclic diterpene, Cincassiol A, B, C1, C2, C3
Cinnzeylanine, cinnzeylanol
Tannins –epicatechin 3-O-, 8-C- and 6-C-Β-D-glucopyranosides
Oligomeric procyanidins- Cinnamatannins A2, A3, A4
Neutral polysaccharide, Arabinoxylin- Cinnaman AX
10% Mucilage
(BHP, 1983; Chen & Chen, 2003; Evans, 2002; Nohara, Kashiwadaa, &
Nishiokaa, 1885; Wichtl, 1994)
A Note of Comparison
C. verum’s volatile content includes eugenol, while C. aromaticum should be
devoid of it. C. aromaticum contains significantly greater amounts of mucilage
(10% compared to 1.6-2.9% in C. verum). The volatile oil content of C.
aromaticum is slightly higher. The tannins of C.aromaticum have been studied
more in depth.
Quantitative Standards:
Cinnamomum verum J. Presl
Acid Insoluble Ash: Not more than 2%
Foreign Organic Matter: Not more than 2%
Chromatography: Ruffini, G. J. (1965) Chromatog. 17, 483.
(BHP, 1983)
Cinnamomum aromaticum Nees
Total Ash: Not more than 5%
Acid Insoluble Ash: Not more than 2%
Foreign Organic Matter: Not more than 1%
Volatile Oil: Not less than 1% v/w. Powdered drug. Not less than 0.7% v/w.
Chromatography: Wellendorf, M. (1963) Dansk Tidsskr. Farm. 37, 145.
(BHP, 1983)
Batches of C. verum may be adulterated with C. aromaticum or C. burmanii. The
presence of C. burmanii is evidenced by plates of calcium oxalate in the cells of
the medullary rays. The presence of C. aromaticum is evidenced by the presence
of cork, the inner part of which is characterized by thick walled cells. Upon
exposure to barium hydroxide solution C. aromaticum will exhibit a bright
yellowish green fluorescence while the C. verum fluorescence shows up as a
pale bluish green when exposed to a UV 365nm light (Wichtl, 1994).
A fluid ounce of C. aromaticum decoction will turn a deep bluish-black
color when exposed to 1-2 drops of iodine, while a C. verum decoction will hardly
be affected. Also, a cold water extraction of C. aromaticum will yield a more thick
mucilaginous mass than that of C. verum (USD, 1926).
Distribution and cultivation:
Cinnamomum verum J. Presl
Cinnamomum verum is native to South India, specifically the Southwestern or
Malabar Coast and Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Cinnamon cultivation was started in Sri
Lanka by the Dutch in 1770 and today it is also cultivated in the Seychelles,
Malaysia, Madagascar, Martinique, Cayenne, Jamaica, and Brazil (Evans, 2002).
C. verum cultivated in the West India islands and Brazil has been known on the
market as cayenne cinnamon and is considered inferior to that from Ceylon
(USD, 1926). C. verum cultivated in Seychelles is considered similar in quality to
that of Ceylon. Sri Lanka (Ceylon) is the biggest exporter of cinnamon
accounting for over 70% of global production (ASTA, 2004), and it devotes
26,000 acres of land along its southern and western provinces to cinnamon
plantations. The Cinnamon plant can grow from the sea level up to a
considerable elevation but grows best in sandy coastal soils (USD, 1918).
Cinnamon may be started from seed, three-leaved cuttings, layering, and
root stock divisions. The pulp of the seeds should be removed prior to planting (J
Duke, 2002). Youngken describes the cultivation process in depth beginning with
the planting of young plants 6 feet apart where they are pruned to grow straight
for 3 years. The stems are then cut down (coppiced) almost to the ground to
form a stool from which 5 or 6 shoots are allowed to grow vertically by pruning.
These shoots possess very little cork. The adventitious shoots grow about a
meter per year and are allowed to grow for about 18 months and picked in the
rainy season from May through October when 1.5 to 2 meters in length and 2 cm
in diameter. Once the twigs and leaves are scraped off, the outer bark and any
cork and cortex is then scraped off with special curved knives as far as the
outermost region of the inner bark (the pericyclic fibers). The inner bark is then
carefully peeled away from the hardwood (the vascular cambium) (Youngken,
1948). Other sources describe the process in different order with the bark (and
inner bark) peeled first from the vascular cambium, laid out to ferment for a few
hours so as to “facilitate the separation of the epidermis” and then stretched over
a stick where the layers of outer bark, cork, and cortex are then scraped off
(Evans, 2002; USD, 1918). In any case, next, many pieces of scraped barked
(called quills) are then placed together to form a tube that is around 1 yard in
length. The tubes are then rolled by hand to prevent splitting and placed on
drying mats or wooden frames for up to a week to dry. As they dry they curl
inwards. The quills are then made into bundles tied with bamboo or made into
compact bales of about 45kg and then exported.
This method of processing cinnamon quills accounts for 60% of the
cinnamon industries’ expenses due to the skilled labor involved. Efforts are
currently underway to introduce a new mechanized system of processing the
quills (Weerasinghe & Gunasena, 2003).
Cinnamomum aromaticum Nees
Cinnamomum aromaticum is native to China, and thus is considered by the
Chinese to be superior in quality to C. verum. It is cultivated in the Southeast
provinces of China, namely Jiangxi and Guangdong. It is also cultivated in
Calcutta, India, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The Vietnamese, qing hua gui is said to
be of superior quality .
Cassia bark is peeled from the shoots of 5-7 year old coppiced bushes in
March through May when the shoot reaches 4cm in diameter. The twigs and
leaves are removed and then used for distillation. The periderm is scraped off
carelessly by planing which leaves behind patches of cork. The quills may be
single or double in layer. They are laid out to dry in the sun and shade and are
then packaged up in bundles for export. (Chen & Chen, 2003; Felter & Lloyd,
1898; USD, 1926).
Store away from light in a non-plastic, metal or glass container (Wichtl, 1994).
Therapeutic Profile:
Based on the literature, C. verum and C. aromaticum overlap greatly in their
therapeutic applications with many sources advocating their interchangeability.
An effort has been made in the text of this therapeutic profile to mention the
species where it is uniquely applicable.
Insulin mimetic
Specific Indications
•Flatulent dyspepsia, distension, and/or nausea with intestinal colic; anorexia,
diarrhea, or the common cold.
•Insulin resistance/ Type 2 diabetes
• “Post-partum and other uterine hemorrhage, with profuse flow, cold extremities,
and pallid surface; haematuria; haemoptysis” (Felter & Lloyd, 1898).
•Deficient Kidney yang- wheezing, dyspnea, phlegm and cold extremities, sore
throat and coldness of the lower extremities. In conditions in need of dispelling
cold, warming the spleen, and relieving pain such as epigastric and abdominal
coldness and pain or vomiting and diarrhea. When cold invades the blood level
such as in irregular menses, amenorrhea, and postpartum pain. Also in issues of
blood stasis with cold and dampness; Yin sores. (Chen & Chen, 2003).
Traditional Uses
Cinnamon has been described as being among the most efficient
aromatics, possessing a warming, carminative, astringent quality that has made it
suitable for many stomach ailments such as flatulence, diarrhea, colic, and
nausea (USD, 1918).
Cinnamon has traditionally been used to check menstrual flooding and to
prevent chills and cramps associated with menses. It is also used to alleviate
excessive uterine bleeding post partum. The Eclectic literature describes
cinnamon’s uses as a Stimulant, tonic, stomachic, carminative, and astringent. It
also reports the use of cinnmon for a variety of women’s issues. Cinnamon had
the reputation as an emmenagogue and as an agent to inhibit lactation. It is
described as one of the most efficient and prompt remedies for uterine and post
partum bleeding. For this purpose, drop doses were given frequently. While
cinnamon could be used appropriately for bleeding in other parts of the body, its
effects were seen most efficiently upon the uterine muscles which were said to
contract under cinnamon’s influence (Felter & Lloyd, 1898). The eclectics
understood that the hemostatic quality of cinnamon could not be wholly attributed
to the tannins because a tincture of the oil was as effective. The Eclectics
recognized cinnamon’s effectiveness against germs and employed its use as a
germicidal agent in cases of the common cold. It was also used to check
diarrhea where it was most commonly given as a powder in large doses where
there was no worry of inflammation (Felter, 1922).
The powdered bark in water has been used applied to the temple for
headaches and neuralgia. And the Lebanese have used it as a stimulant for
colds, rheumatism, halitosis, and for drooling. The Unani consider it carminative,
using it for abdominal pain and hiccups and as a liver tonic and for piles. They
also use cinnamom for colds and bronchitis, as an expectorant, as a sialogogue,
and as an anti-inflammatory agent. While the Ayurvedics use cinnamon for
biliousness, bronchitis, diarrhea, itchiness, worms, parched mouth, cardiac,
rectal, and urinary problems. To them it is also considered an aphrodisiac and a
tonic and has been used for gas, anorexia, toothache, and nausea (J Duke,
Rou gui (C. aromaticum) has a long tradition of application in the Chinese
model, treating disorders characterized by deficient Kidney yang and being used
to dispel cold and damp, warm the spleen, and relieve pain. It has been used in
issues of blood stasis, and is believed to promote generation of the flesh and
enhance recovery of wounds, especially Yin sores. Rou gui has traditionally
been added to qi and blood tonics and is described as entering the Heart,
Kidney, Liver, and Spleen channels (Benski et al., 2004; Chen & Chen, 2003).
Chinese literature cites that Rou Gui (C. aromaticum) has a mildly stimulating
effect on the digestion, increasing saliva and gastric acid secretions and relieving
intestinal spasm and pain (Chen & Chen, 2003).
Cinnamaldehyde has been reported to have a vasodilating and
hypotensive effect in dogs and guinea pigs (Keller, 1992). It also seems to
stimulate the central nervous system at low doses and inhibits it at high doses. It
has been shown to stimulate the release of catecholamines from the adrenal
glands (J Duke, 2002).
Cinnamaldehyde is poorly absorbed through the skin. Cinnamaldehyde injection
on rats resulted in benzoic acid, hippuric acid (29.3%), and cinnamic acid in the
urine. Partial “tanning” of the mucosa by cinnamaldehyde may lead to relatively
low absorption (Keller, 1992).
Researched activities
Antifungal Activity
Many studies have confirmed the essential oil of cinnamon as a fungicidal agent.
These implications prove important to the issues of food preservation and
packaging. When the essential oils of Aniba rosaeodora, Laurus nobilis,
Sassafras albidum and Cinnamomum verum were tested against 17
micromycetes. The essential oil of cinnamon showed the strongest antifungal
activity against food poisoning, spoilage fungi, and plant and animal pathogens.
The constituent,Trans-cinnamaldehyde was shown to be the dominant
component for this activity (Simic et al., 2004). A cinnamon essential oil (species
undetermined) also showed inhibitory effects against rye bread spoilage fungi, E.
filibuligar, A. flavus, E. repens, P. roqueforti (Suhr & Nielsen, 2003). Similarly, an
essential oil of C. verum showed complete fungitoxix activity against fungal
growth and mycotoxic production in wheat grains and in several other fungi
commonly causing deterioration of bakery products (Soliman & Badeaa, 2002)
(Guynot et al., 2003). Likewise effects have been seen in cinnamon verum’s
essential oil fungicidal activity against crown rot and anthracnose pathogens
isolated from banana (Ranasinghe, Jayawardena, & Abeywickrama, 2002). The
three constituents that have been identified as the agents active against fungal
are cinnamic aldehyde (Bullerman, 1974), O-methoxycinnamaldehyde
(Morozumi, 1978), and carfone (Dwividi & Dubey, 1993). It seems that the
inhibitory activity of cinnamon occurs at the apical site of the fungal hyphae
(Inouye et al., 2000).
With respect to issues implicated in human health cinnamon has
demonstrated in vitro activity against various types of fungi that would deem it
therapeutically beneficial. Cinnamic aldehyde vapors from C. verum has shown
in vitro antifungal activity against the fungi involved in respiratory tract mycoses:
Aspergillus niger, A. fumigatus, A. nidulans A. flavus, Candida albicans, C.
tropicalis, C. pseudotropicalis, and Histoplasma capsulatum (Singh, Srivastava,
Singh, & Srivastava, 1995). C. verum also had effects against fluconazole
resistant strains of Candida isolates in vitro. The minimum inhibition
concentration (MIC) of the bark of C. verum ranged from < 0.05-30 mg/ml, which
was slightly better than commercially available cinnamon powder. Transcinnamaldehyde
and O-methoxycinnamaldehyde had MICs of 0.03-0.5 mg/ml.
The MICs of selected cinnamon candies and gums generally ranged from 25-100
mg/ml (Quale, Landman, Zaman, Burney, & Sathe, 1996).
Antimicrobial Activity
Cinnamon has shown activity against various types of bacteria with the grampositive
bacteria being more sensitive than the gram-negative bacteria (Smith-
Palmer, Stewart, & Fyfe, 1998). Antimicrobial activity is attributed to the volatile
portion of cinnamon. Because essential oil is lipophilic it has the ability to
penetrate through a membrane to the interior of the cell where it displays
inhibitory activity at the target site (Smith-Palmer et al., 1998). It seems that
cinnamaldehyde and eugenol are the major constituents responsible for
cinnamon’s antimicrobial activity (Bullerman, 1974). O-methoxycinnamaldehyde
has also been associated with antimicrobial activity (Wichtyl)
H. pylori
Among several plants tested (Majorana syrica, Inula viscosa, Rosmarinus
officinalis, Glycirrhiza glabra, Matricaria aurea, Laurus nobilis, Melissa officinalis,
Thymus vulgaris, Salvia officinalis, and Allium sativum), Cinnamomum
aromaticum displayed the strongest inhibitory activity against the S-shaped
gram-negative H. pylori (Tabak, Armon, Potasman, & Neeman, 1996) . What’s
more is that C. aromaticum also demonstrated an inhibitory effect on the activity
of urease which is a virulent factor released by H. pylori. While the methylene
chloride extract of C. verum was found to be the strongest inhibitor of H. pylori’s
growth, the ethanol extract of C. aromaticum was found to more strongly
counteract urease activity (Tabak, Armon, & Neeman, 1999).
Respiratory tract pathogens
During investigation for the potential role of 14 essential oils as inhalation
therapy, Cinnamon bark oil (species undetermined) was found to display the
greatest range of inhibition against several respiratory tract pathogens by
gaseous contact (H. influenza, S. pyogenes, S. pneumoniae (IP-692), S.
pneumoniae (PRC-53), S. Aureus, and E. coli). The minimal inhibition dose
(MID) of Cinnamon bark oil as compared to its constituent Cinnamaldehyde was
lower only against S. pneumoniae (PRC-53) indicating that the isolated
constituent was more effective against the other pathogens (Inouye, Takizawa, &
Yamaguchi, 2001).
Food Bourne pathogens
Cinnamon’s antimicrobial properties could be useful in matters of food
preservation. The addition of 5 microliters of cinnamon essential oil (species
undetermined) to 100ml of carrot broth under refrigeration was enough to
suppress the growth of the psychotropic enterotoxin B. cereus for 60 days, while
the broth without cinnamon oil under the same refrigeration conditions resulted in
B. cereus growth (Valero & Salmeron, 2003). Other psychotropic bacteria are
also inhibited by cinnamon (Fabio, Corona, Forte, & Quaglio, 2003). A 1%
concentration of C. verum (finely ground powder) was added to a soy broth
inoculated with test organisms and resulted in complete inhibition of A.
hydrophila growth. In the same test, Yersinia enterocolitica was also inhibited by
the ground cinnamon as well as by the essential oil cinnamon. In this test,
Listeria monocytogenes was very sensitive to cinnamon essential oil but lacked
sensitivity to the powder. However other research showed that ground cinnamon
(0.1, 0.2, 0.3% concentration) exhibited a pronounced killing effect on L.
monocytogenes effectively inactivating the bacteria in inoculated apple juice
(Yuste & Fung, 2002). Other research shows that the essential oil of C. verum
significantly reduced the production of the gram-positive listeriolysin O, an
extracellular bacterial protein produced by L monocytogenes which is required for
the successful infection known as listeriosis. The inhibition seems to occur at the
level of listeriolysin O production since no effect was seen on existing listeriolysin
O activity (Smith-Palmer, Stewartt, & Fyfe, 2002).
The apple juice experiment was carried out once more, only this time
showing antimicrobial effects against Escherichia coli and Salmonella
Tymphimuriuim from a combination of ground grocery store cinnamon and nisin,
a nontoxic bacteriocin produced by Lactococcus lactis known to be effective
against gram positive and injured gram negative bacteria (Yuste & Fung, 2004).
And on its own, an ethanol extract of C. aromaticum was shown to extensively
inhibit the growth of Escherichia coli and Salmonella tymphimurium in vitro (Mau,
Chen, & Hsieh, 2001). What’s more is that Cinnamon oil was effective against
bacteria resistant strains of B. cereus, E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus
(Friedman, Henika, Levin, & Mandrell, 2004).
Cinnamon has been studied thoroughly for its antioxidant potential. Constituents
of Cinnamon that are known to exert an antioxidant effect are epicatechin,
camphene, eugenol, gamma-terpinene, salicylic acid, and tannins (James Duke,
2004). These constituents are phenolic in structure and C. verum testing has
indicated a phenolic content of 5428mg/100g (Nair, Nagar, & Gupta, 1998).
When commercial cinnamon was measured for its total antioxidant content based
on the presence of electron or hydrogen donating antioxidants or reductants. It
ranked third among 38 commercially available cooking spices, falling only behind
clove and allspice. Its total antioxidant content was determined to be 98.4mmol/
100g. C. aromaticum had a total antioxidant content of 120.2mmol/100g and
ranked at the top of the list among 22 Chinese and Japanese medicinal herbs.
>1mmol of dietary antioxidant is deemed to make a relevant contribution to a
normal diet, and this correlates to roughly a gram of cinnamon (Dragland, Senoo,
Wake, Holte, & Blomhoff, 2003).
Many studies demonstrate cinnamon’s antioxidant activity in vitro. When
comparing several dessert spices for antioxidant activity, the water extracts of
Mentha spicata and Cinnamomum verum displayed the highest activity in
inhibition of phospholipid peroxidation followed by anise, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla,
and licorice (Murcia et al., 2004). In this study, C. verum also exhibited the
highest antioxidant activity when it came to scavenging superoxide radicals. C.
verum showed a higher antioxidant activity than that of synthetic antioxidant food
additives, propyl gallate, BHA, and BHT (Murcia et al., 2004) (Mancini-Filho, Van-
Koiij, Mancini, Cozzolino, & Torres, 1998).
Another comparison study reveals that the ethanol extract of C.
aromaticum exhibited a greater inhibition of induced lipid peroxidation of rat liver
homogenate than alpha-tocopherol. The ethanol extract also showed the highest
superoxide anions scavenging activity and the strongest anti-superoxide
formation activity. A hot water extract showed significant inhibition as well (Lin,
Wu, Chang, & Ng, 2003). It appears that heat enhances cinnamon’s antioxidant
activity. When comparing various C. verum extracts, they all showed a
significant inhibition of lipoxygenase-dependent enzymatic lipid peroxidation of
linoleic acid in vitro, but the boiled extracts showed even better results indicating
the possible release of bound antioxidant principles when exposed to heat
(Shobana & Naidu, 2000).
In vivo evidence also verifies cinnamon’s antioxidant activity. In one study,
rats fed a high fat diet supplemented with 10% C. verum powder resulted in
enhanced antioxidant enzyme activity and restored glutathione content (Dhuley,
Hypolipidemic activity
Cinnamate, a phenolic compound in cinnamon was added to the high cholesterol
diets of rats and compared to a control group and a group whose diet was
supplemented with levostatin. HDL levels were significantly higher and HMGCoA
reductase activity was significantly lowered in the cinnamate group over the
other groups. Cinnamate supplementation also resulted in higher glutathione
peroxidase activity, indicating suppression of lipid peroxidation. In addition,
cinnamate group displayed lower levels of hepatic cholesterol and triglycerides
(J. S. Lee et al., 2003).
Sensory stimulation
Cinnamaldehyde was identified as the pungent compound in cinnamon based on
it activation of known mammalian transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channel
which have been implicated in cold sensation. Cinnamaldehyde was found to
activate TRPA1, which plays a role in the noxious burning component in cold
sensation, identically to cold. This TRPA activation by cinnamaldehyde elicited
nociceptive behavior in mice (Bandell et al., 2004).
Insulin mimetic & Insulin Potentiating
Cinnamomum verum and aromaticum both showed similar results in significantly
increasing insulin dependent glucose utilization in rat epididymal adipocyte tissue
in vitro (Broadhurst, Polansky, & Anderson, 2000). Four species of Cinnamon (C.
aromaticum, C. verum, C. loureinee, and C. burmanni) all tested positive for
insulin enhancing activity with no statistical difference between them (Anderson
et al., 2004). Cinnamon extracts stimulate the phosphorylation of the insulin
receptor while inhibiting insulin receptor phosphatase theoretically leading to
improved insulin sensitivity(Imparl-Radosevich et al., 1998). A bioactive
compound isolated from cinnamon and known as methylhydroxychalcone
polymer (MHCP) mimicked the insulin activity in rat adipocytes in vitro by
stimulating the phosphorylation of insulin receptors and upregulating glucose
uptake, glycogen synthesis, and glycogen synthase activity while downregulating
glycogen synthase kinase activity. While the effects of MHCP were slower when
compared to the effects of insulin, there was a synergistic effect (4-5 fold
increase over what insulin stimulated alone) when the MHCP was combined with
insulin (Jarvill-Taylor, Anderson, & Graves, 2001). Biologically active compounds
appear to be phenolic in nature (Broadhurst et al., 2000). And an investigation
isolating and characterizing water soluble polyphenol polymers known to improve
in vitro insulin dependent glucose utilization reveals A type doubly linked
procyanidin oligomers of catechins and epicatechins (Anderson et al., 2004).
Another mechanism offered to explain the role of cinnamon in reducing
blood glucose levels is its effect on Na -K -ATPase activity. The aqueous and
the alcoholic extracts of store bought cinnamon powder potently inhibited Na -K
-ATPase activity in isolated rat kidney and intestine with the aqueous form
inhibiting more on the kidney sample and the alcoholic form inhibiting more on
the intestinal sample (Kreydiyyeh, Usta, & Copti, 2000). The alcoholic extract
was equipotent to Cinnamaldehyde. Many transport processes, including the
transport of glucose across the membrane are sodium coupled and depend on
the sodium gradient created by the Na -K pump. Thus by affecting the sodium
gradient, cinnamon may exert a glucose lowering effect by the inhibition of
intestinal absorption of glucose and its sodium dependent kidney reabsorption.
When 60 people with type 2 diabetes were given C. verum powder in a
capsule, positive results were seen in measured parameters. (See section on
Clinical Trials)
Gastrointestinal Aide
The volatile oil of C. verum was one of several oils showing carminative activity
and anti-foaming action in a foaming model using artificial gastric fluids (Harries,
James, & Pugh, 1978). Papaverine like spasmolytic effects have been
described (ESCOP). Cinnamaldehyde has been identified as the primary
spasmolytic constituent and its application, as well as that of the oil resulted in
decreased stomach motility in rats and dogs (Harada & Yano, 1975). Relaxation
of the tracheal and ileal smooth muscle of guinea pigs has also been associated
with cinnamon (Reiter & Brandt, 1985). In addition to carminative and
antispasmodic effects, cinnamon (aromaticum) has also shown to be
antiulcerogenic in animal models (Akira, Tanaka, & Tabata, 1986). A very small
oral dose of cinnamon prevented serotonin induced ulcers in rats independent of
effects on H.pylori. No inhibition of gastric acid was seen, rather, cinnamon
seemed to work by increasing the gastric blood flow. The most active
antiulcerogenic constituents were found to be 3-(2-hydroxyphenyl)-propanoic
acid and its O-glucoside (Tanaka et al., 1989).
Immune/Inflammation modulating
In various studies, cinnamon and its compounds have been found inhibit certain
pathways of inflammation, and in vitro evidence suggests that it may inhibit 5-
lipoxygenase activity, COX-2 activity, and nuclear factor NF-KB transcriptional
activity. When ranked against other spices for inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase activity
(involved in leukotriene production), an aqueous extract of grocery bought
cinnamon powder was second only to clove and followed by pepper, onion, chili,
turmeric, and garlic. Its constituent, Cinnamaldehyde was ranked behind
Quercetin, Eugenol, and Curcumin but was ahead of piperine, capsaicin, Allyl
sulfide and selected synthetic 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors. The degree of inhibition
was associated with the presence of phenolic compounds and the position and
number of hydroxyl groups (Prasad, Raghavendra, Lokesh, & Naidu, 2004).
A screening of plant constituents for COX-2 inhibition showed that the
phenylpropane cinnamaldehyde, isolated from C. verum, inhibited COX-2
catalyzed PGE2 production in vitro (Huss, Ringbom, Perera, Bohlin, & Vasange,
2002). An extract of C. aromaticum inhibited the transcriptional activity of NF-KB,
a transcriptional factor which regulates inflammation and immune genes
expression. It was further determined that the active NF-KB inhibiting
constituents are trans-cinnamaldehyde and 2-methoxycinnamaldehyde (Reddy et
al., 2004).
Cinnaman AX, a polysaccharide of cinnamon was found to have
remarkable reticuloendothelial system (referring to the mononuclear phagocyte
system plus the vascular endothelium and the reticular and dendritic cells of
lymphoid organs) potentiating activity in vitro (Kanari et al., 1989). Antiallergenic
activity was seen in vitro when a new hexacyclic diterpene, Cincassiol E was
identified as the active component of a C. aromaticum water extract (Nohara et
al., 1885). Additionally, cinnamon showed antipyretic activity associated with
interleukin-1alpha regulatory activity (Kurokawa, Kumeda, Yamamura,
Kamiyama, & Shiraki, 1998).
Benzaldehyde is a known antitumor agent that is present in cinnamon (Duke). In
addition, various cinnamon constituents have been tested for cytotoxic effects.
Cinnamic acid, cinnamates and cinnamyl alcohols proved negative in their
cytotoxic ability against human solid tumor cells such as A549, SK-OV-3, SKMEL-
2, XF498 and HCT15. The Cinnamaldehydes however, displayed a growth
inhibition of HCT15 and SK-MEL-2 cancer cells (Kwon et al., 1998). In a related
study, the constituent, 2'-Hydroxycinnamaldehyde (HCA) was shown to inhibit in
vitro growth of 29 different types of human cancer cells. It was then shown to
Interfere with the growth of SW-620 human tumor xenograft in nude mice (C. W.
Lee et al., 1999). The aqueous and 50% ethanolic extracts of C. cassia inhibited
the cytotoxicity of Porphyromonas gingivalis crude enzyme against human
gingival fibroblasts in vitro(Osawa et al., 1991).
Other Effects
An ethanol extract of C. verum displayed wound healing effects when given orally
to injured rats as evidenced by a stronger wound breaking strength, increased
granulation tissue weight, and an increased rate of wound contraction and
epithelization (Kamath, Rana, & Chowdhury, 2003). A C. cassia ethanolic extract
demonstrated a preventative effect on tissue degradation by inhibiting the
collagenolytic effets of P. gingivalis in vitro (Osawa et al., 1991).
While more research is needed, a screening of 69 plant species from India
showed C. aromaticum to display the greatest inhibition of HIV replication in vitro
(Premanathan et al., 2000).
Of 122 Chinese medicinal plants, C. cassia was the most potent xanthine
oxidase inhibitor in vitro. Xanthine oxidase is the enzyme that catalyzes the
conversion of hypoxanthine to xanthine and then to uric acid (Kong, Cai, Huang,
Cheng, & Tan, 2000). These results may have implications in the treatment of
hyperuricemic disorders such as gout.
Clinical Trials
•102 patients classified as having Kidney yang deficiency attributed lower back
pain were given 5g of C. aromaticum powder twice a day for 3 weeks with a 98%
rate of effectiveness (Chen & Chen, 2003).
•19 patients with Psoriasis were treated with a Rou Gui (C.aromaticum)
preparation three times a day for 4-8 weeks and had a 91.2% effective rate. The
author did not indicate whether the preparation was topical or internal (Chen &
Chen, 2003).
•When 60 people with type 2 diabetes were given C. verum powder in a capsule,
positive results were seen in measured parameters. The patients were given 1g,
3g, or 6g of 500mg capsules given in divided doses immediately following meals.
After 20 days only the 6g group showed decreased values that were significant.
However, after 40 days, all three groups showed a reduction in the mean fasting
serum glucose (18-29%), triglycerides (23-30%), LDL cholesterol (7-27%), and
total cholesterol (12-26%). No changes were seen in the control group and no
significant changes were seen in HDL cholesterol levels. The results were not
dose dependent because the response to all three dosages was similar, rather
they were time dependent. After the forty day trial a 20 day washout period
revealed sustained maintenance of lower serum glucose levels and lipid levels
(Khan, Safdar, Ali Khan, Khattak, & Anderson, 2003).
•A pilot study whereby 5 HIV patients were given a commercially available
cinnamon preparation for one week resulted in the improvement of oral
candidiasis for 3 of the 5 patients (Quale et al., 1996).
BHP, (1983)
Dried bark Infusion 0.5-1g 3x/day
Tincture 2-4ml 3x/day
Liquid Extract 1:1 (70%) 0.5-1ml 3x/day
Expanded Commission E. Monographs
Cut or ground bark: 2-4g
Tincture: 3.3-6.7ml, 3 times daily
Infusion or decoction: 0.7-1.3g 3x/day
Essential oil; 0.5-0.2ml
Side Effects and Overdose
In the Chinese literature, Rou Gui (C. aromaticum) is said to cause
gastrointestinal and urinary tract disturbances if overused (over 18g/day).
Symptoms would include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dysuria, anuria,
burning urination, red urine, proteinuria, heat in the chest, thirst for cold
beverages, dry, swollen eyes, constipation, facial flushing, dizziness, blurred
vision, and numbness in the tongue (Benski et al., 2004; Chen & Chen, 2003).
The most common complaint resulting from consumption of 5g powder two times
a day in a human clinical trial was constipation and dry mouth (Chen & Chen,
Large amounts of cinnamon consumption can lead to increased
respiration, perspiration, and increased intestinal peristalsis due to stimulatory
effects of the CNS. It is common for this excitation state to be followed by a
sedative phase, sleepiness, and depression (Wichtl, 1994).
Dermatological reactions can be seen in the topical use of cinnamon.
Several cases of contact stomatitis in the mouth have been reported in relation to
cinnamon flavored food, toothpastes, gum, and candy and are associated with
positive reactions to antigenic skin tests for cinnamic acid and trans
cinnamaldehyde (Cohen & Bhattacharyya, 2000). Contact dermatitis of the skin
has also been associated with cinnamon’s presence in deodorants, cosmetics,
and shoe insoles (Hartmann & Hunzelmann, 2004). Bakers and confectioners
using cinnamon have also reported such cases. Cinnamaldehyde (5%) in
petroleum is a skin irritant and it has been shown to liberate histamines from
human leukocytes in vitro. Cross reactions are said to occur in those allergic to
Peru Balsam. Symptoms may include swelling of the lips and tongue, itching
and/or burning sensation, oral mucosal blistering, and urticaria (Keller, 1992).
Interestingly, those with cinnamon induced contact dermatitis usually seem to
tolerate cinnamon containing foods and avoidance of cinnamon consumption has
not been recommended for those testing positive to cinnamon agents on a skin
patch test (Hartmann & Hunzelmann, 2004).
Because the essential oil of cinnamon contains larger amounts of
cinnamic aldehyde, it presents more concern. Undiluted Cinnamon oil has
caused severe burns after prolonged exposure (48 hours) in a child (Triserand &
Balacs, 1995). IFRA suggests C. aromaticum and C. verum essential oil should
never be more than 1% in fragrance compound (0.2% of final product).
According to authors of Essential Oil Safety this maximum use level seems high
and they advocate using no more than 0.1% in a topical application with internal
use only if well tolerated. If so, then the oil or cinnamaldehyde shouldn’t exceed
over 0.2g/day (1-20g/day) at the risk of exposing their irritant properties (ESCOP,
•Some sources have contraindicated the use of cinnamon in cases of gastric
•Atopic skin conditions or cases of known allergy to cinnamon or its constituents,
or a hypersensitivity to Peru Balsam.
•Pregnancy, although limited data is available.
•Caution when combining tetracycline hydrochloride and/or methacycline
hydrochloride derived drugs with doses over 1g of cinnamon.
(DeSmet, 1992; Keller, 1992; Wichtl, 1994)
Drug Interactions
Because C. aromaticum (2g in 100ml) significantly delayed the dissolution of
tetracycline hydrochloride and methacycline hydrochloride from gelatin capsules,
care should be taken not to combine these agents with cinnamon (1-2g dose)
(Keller, 1992).
LD50 for I.V. injection of C. aromaticum decoction in mice is 18.48 /-1.80g/kg. (C
LD50 of cinnamaldehyde in mice is 132mg/kg (I.V.), 610mg/kg (i.p.),
and 2225 mg/kg (p.o.).
LD50 for an aqueous extract in mice is 4980mg/kg (i.p.)
LD50 for volatile oil of C. verum in rat is 4160mg/kg (p.o.)
LD50 for volatile oil of C. aromaticum in rat is 5200mg/kg (p.o.)
(Keller, 1992)
The aromatics lend themselves wholly to alcohol (USD, 1918).
Extrapolations from pharmacology
Based on preliminary evidence that cinnamon enhances glucose utilization and
may act as an insulin mimetic it may be postulated that if taken before meals it
may act as an orexigenic (confirming traditional evidence), stimulating the
appetite by virtue of lowered blood glucose levels. Taken after meals, by
enhancing postprandial glucose utilization, it may indicate a possible effect as a
weight maintenance aide.
International Status
•Officially approved in France and in Germany as a carminative.
•German standard License-GI remedy
•U.K. - Herbal medicine general sale list Table A/ Schedule 1.
•Canada- approved as an active ingredient a few Traditional Herbal Medicines
and homeopathic medicines requiring pre-market authorization.
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