Herbal Profile: Cinnamon |

Herbal Profile: Cinnamon

Sarena-Rae Santos March 20, 2023

What is Cinnamon

Cinnamon is sometimes called cassia bark, sweet cinnamon, or its scientific name Cinnamomum zeylanicum. Cinnamon trees originated from Asia and can grow 66 feet tall, producing ​​small yellow or green (sometimes reddish-pink) flowers and berry fruits (1). Cinnamon dates back to 2800 BC when our ancestors used it for anointment, embalming, and various ailments. Back then, cinnamon was rare and valuable, often regarded as a gift fit for kings in Ancient Egypt (2). 

Health Benefits of Cinnamon

There are two common types of cinnamon, cassia and Ceylon. Check out our blog, Cassia Cinnamon Vs. Ceylon Cinnamon, to learn the differences between the two types. Although cassia cinnamon is the most common variety, Ceylon cinnamon is known as “true cinnamon (2). 

Rich In Antioxidants

Several studies have been done on cinnamon’s ability to act as an antioxidant. Antioxidants can help fight damage from harmful free radicals. The buildup of free radicals has been linked to chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease (3). When supplementing cinnamon, studies have demonstrated a significant increase in the blood’s antioxidant levels while reducing inflammatory markers (4). The antioxidant effects of cinnamon are so robust it can be used as a natural food preservative (5).

Antibacterial Properties

An antibacterial property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can destroy or suppress the growth and reproduction of bacteria (6). Studies suggest cinnamon can inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, including Listeria and Salmonella (7,8). Cinnamon’s antibacterial properties are believed to be due to bioactive phytochemicals such as cinnamaldehyde and eugenol (9). Studies have found the antimicrobial effects of cinnamon may even help prevent tooth decay and reduce bad breath (10).

Antifungal Properties

Aside from antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, cinnamon has antifungal properties. An antifungal property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can fight the growth of specific pathogens that could harm your health, such as ringworm, athlete’s foot, tinea versicolor, toenail fungus, and jock itch (11). Studies confirm cinnamon’s antifungal effects against Candida albicans and Candida (12). Additionally, test-tube studies suggest that cinnamon oil could help kill certain fungi, especially those that cause respiratory tract infections (13).

Antiviral Properties

Aside from cinnamon’s antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, it also has antiviral properties. An antiviral property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can kill a virus or suppress the virus’ ability to replicate, multiply or reproduce (14). One study found cinnamon extracted from Cassia varieties beneficial against HIV-1 (15). Another study demonstrated cinnamon’s ability to protect against other viruses, including influenza and Dengue (16). 

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Cinnamon is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to its antioxidant compounds, which can also reduce inflammation, especially from free radical damage. Chronic inflammation has been linked with many diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers (17). Studies demonstrate cinnamon’s antioxidants have potent anti-inflammatory properties (18,19). One study found that cinnamon bark essential oil significantly inhibited the production of several protein biomarkers involved in inflammation and tissue remodeling (20).

May Help Control Diabetes & Blood Sugar Levels

As of 2020, 34.2 million (1 in 10) Americans have diabetes, and another 88 million (1 in 3) Americans have prediabetes (21). On the bright side, studies have found cinnamon to have anti-diabetic properties (22). Studies have found cinnamon interferes with numerous digestive enzymes responsible for slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates in your digestive tract (23). Additionally, studies have found a compound in cinnamon may mimic the effects of insulin, improving the uptake of sugar into the cells (24). Furthermore, some studies suggest that cinnamon may reduce insulin resistance (25,26).

May Promote Heart Health

Unfortunately, heart disease is the world’s number 1 cause of death (27). Due to the incredibly complex determinants of heart disease and various possible contributions, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact way to prevent it. Still, you can at least take steps to lower your overall risk. Cinnamon may be an answer, as it’s demonstrated significant blood pressure reduction when consumed consistently for at least eight weeks. It has been proposed as a hypotensive supplement in hypertension management (28,29).

Blood pressure aside, one review found supplementing with at least 1.5 grams of cinnamon per day in people with metabolic disease reduced triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and blood sugar levels (30). Another review demonstrated cinnamon’s ability to reduce triglyceride and total cholesterol levels (31). 

May Improve Brain Health

Many studies have been conducted in test tubes, animals, and even humans around the possibility that cinnamon may aid various brain disorders, especially neurodegenerative diseases. Neurodegenerative diseases affect millions of people worldwide and are characterized by progressive loss of the structure or function of nerve cells (32). Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are the most common neurodegenerative diseases (33). In animal studies, cinnamon helped protect neurons, normalized neurotransmitter levels, and improved motor function in mice with Parkinson’s disease (34). Additionally, certain compounds found in cinnamon have demonstrated the ability to inhibit the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (35,36).

Anticancer Properties

Statistics say that 158.3 of every 100,000 individuals will die from cancer, but what if they didn’t have to (37)? Cinnamon may be an answer; although the evidence is limited to test-tube and animal studies, studies suggest that cinnamon extracts have anti-cancer properties (38,39,40). In vitro, cinnamaldehyde reduced the growth and spread of ovarian cancer cells (41). In animal studies, cinnamaldehyde blocked the expression of certain proteins involved in cancer growth in mice with ovarian cancer (42). A final study concluded that cinnamaldehyde is a potential novel drug for treating and preventing breast cancer (43).

Safety Concerns

The mainstream has no major concerns about cinnamon, which is surprising. They warn of irritation, allergies, low blood sugar, and their potential to affect how antibiotics, diabetes drugs, blood thinners, heart medicines, and other medications work (44).

According to trusted herbalist Richard Whelan, cinnamon in food, beverages, or herbal extracts isn’t problematic for any age, pregnancy, breastfeeding, etc. However, Cinnamon as an essential oil or a concentrate needs to be treated with great caution as there is a real and high possibility of allergic reactions of the skin or mucous membranes. This is most likely because of the cinnamic aldehyde, which is known to be a potent contact sensitizer (45).

When it comes to cinnamon essential oil, according to aromatherapist Wendy Robbins, essential oils should never be taken internally or applied undiluted. Wendy Robbins indicates that the bark and the leaf oil are low risks for mucous membrane irritation, may inhibit blood clotting, and pose a drug interaction hazard. She mentions cinnamon bark oil may cause embryotoxicity and is contraindicated in pregnancy and breastfeeding. She warns there is a high risk of skin sensitization with the bark oil and recommends a dermal maximum of 0.07% for the bark oil and 0.065% for the leaf oil (46). Neither cinnamon bark nor leaf is safe for children, dogs, horses, pregnancy, or breastfeeding. 

How to Use Cinnamon

You can find cinnamon in dried bulk, pills, powders, teas, extracts, or tinctures. Tinctures always contain the most concentrated amount of herbs. Teas and soups are also options, especially when following ayurvedic medicine recipes. Some great articles to check out featuring the use of cinnamon include:

Follow the recommendations of any supplement; some of my recommendations include:

  • Earthley’s Anti-Inflammatory was created for the common inflammation that can flare up from low immunity or an illness. This herbal extract helps to calm the body, reduce inflammation, and provide immune support. It can even help improve your mood!
  • Earthley’s Candida Cleanse helps to fight yeast and candida overgrowth to restore gut health. Made with 100% natural ingredients, this herbal tincture is safe and effective in bringing the relief you’ve been looking for.
  • Earthley’s Castor Oil Detox (Warm Formula) is an herbalinfused castor oil that can help detox your liver, relieve the pain of cysts, reduce joint pain, promote lymphatic health, and more.
  • Earthley’s Digest-Support {Digestive Bitters} relieves gas, bloating, and digestive distress. These natural bitters promote better nutrient absorption –alleviating symptoms like gas, bloating, indigestion, constipation, and diarrhea.
  • Earthley’s Elderberry Syrup DIY Kits make it easier than ever! No need to overbuy herbs or spend time researching the best recipe. Simply boil in water and add honey, syrup, or a sweetener of your choice.
  • Earthley’s Feel Better Fast is an herbal tincture created to quickly knock out coughs, sniffles, and upset tummies. Rather than cover up your symptoms with OTC meds that have side effects, nourish yourself with vitamins and minerals to help your body actually heal itself quicker! 
  • Earthley’s Healthy Heart is an herbal supplement that supports the heart and a proper immune response. This tincture is rich in anti-inflammatory properties and vitamin C. It can help lower blood sugar and blood pressure, increase insulin activity, and even help with symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
  • Earthley’s Lunamore is for special metabolic support and a woman’s moon cycle. This tincture provides herbal support for hormone balance, helps to reduce cramps and cysts, and supports healthy blood sugar levels.
  • Earthley’s Spice Tea is perfect for cinnamon and spice lovers. This tea combines green rooibos, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric to create a warm, tasty blend. Rich in antioxidants, this tea has cognition-enhancing abilities and also anti-nausea effects, which are great for soothing an upset tummy.

If you have cinnamon in your natural medicine cabinet, how do you use it?

This is the writings of:

Sarena-Rae Santos
Sarena-Rae Santos' journey to natural health began in 2019 when she swayed away from allopathic medicine after becoming wheelchair-bound due to the side effects of 20+ medications. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and dizziness due to nystagmus were the sources of her many health complications. Sarena's symptoms diminished after adopting a healthier lifestyle surrounding whole foods and herbs, leaving her a fantastic quality of life and a passion for educating people.

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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