Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the inner bark of several tree species belonging to the genus Cinnamomum. There are several ways to identify a cinnamon plant depending on the species, but here are some general characteristics:
- Cinnamon trees are evergreen trees or shrubs that can grow up to 20-30 feet tall.
- The leaves are usually oval-shaped, with a pointed tip, and have a shiny, dark green color.
- The bark of a cinnamon tree is often smooth and reddish-brown in color.
- Cinnamon trees produce small, white or yellow flowers that grow in clusters.
- The fruit of a cinnamon tree is a small, dark purple berry that contains a single seed.
- When harvesting cinnamon, the inner bark is stripped from the tree and dried, which curls up into the familiar cinnamon sticks.
One of the most common species of cinnamon is Cinnamomum verum, also known as true cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon. Its bark is thinner and more delicate than other cinnamon species and has a sweet and delicate flavor. Its leaves are leathery, dark green, and have a pointed tip. The tree can grow up to 50 feet tall, but it’s usually pruned to around 10-12 feet for easy harvesting.
Cinnamon has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, and various parts of the plant can be used for their health benefits. Here are the most commonly used parts of the cinnamon plant for medicinal purposes:
- Bark: The inner bark of cinnamon trees is commonly used to make cinnamon powder and cinnamon essential oil, which are used for their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. Cinnamon bark is also used to help regulate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
- Leaves: Cinnamon leaves can also be used for medicinal purposes, either by making tea or by using the essential oil extracted from the leaves. Cinnamon leaf oil is used for its antifungal and antibacterial properties and is often used to treat skin conditions such as acne and eczema.
- Roots: Cinnamon root extracts have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat various ailments, including digestive issues and menstrual cramps.
- Seeds: Cinnamon seeds can also be used for medicinal purposes. The oil extracted from the seeds is used for its antiseptic and antifungal properties and is sometimes used in natural insecticides.
(other commonly used species include Cinnamomum cassia, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, and Cinnamomum Burmannii)
Name in popular languages
- Spanish: canela
- French: cannelle
- German: Zimt
- Italian: cannella
- Portuguese: canela
- Dutch: kaneel
- Swedish: kanel
- Finnish: kaneli
- Russian: корица (koritsa)
- Arabic: قرفة (qirfa)
- Chinese: 肉桂 (ròuguì)
- Japanese: 肉桂 (nikkei)
- Korean: 계피 (gyepi)
- Thai: อบเชย (op choei)
- Indonesian: kayu manis
- Malay: kayu manis
- Hindi: दालचीनी (dalchini)
- Bengali: দারুচিনি (daruchini)
- Tamil: கறுவாட்டி பட்டை (karuvadu patta)
- Telugu: దాల్చిన చెక్క (dalchina chekka)
- Kannada: ದಾಲ್ಚಿನ್ನಿ (dalchini)
- Malayalam: കറുവാപത്ത (karuvapatta)
- Punjabi: ਦਾਲਚੀਨੀ (dalchini)
- Gujarati: દાલચીની (dalchini)
- Marathi: दालचिनी (dalchini)
Origin and History
The cinnamon plant is native to Sri Lanka and southern India, and it has been used for its aromatic, culinary, and medicinal properties for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used cinnamon in embalming practices, and it was also highly prized by the ancient Romans, who imported large quantities of cinnamon from India.
In traditional Chinese medicine, cinnamon has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide range of health conditions, including digestive disorders, menstrual cramps, and respiratory infections. In Ayurvedic medicine, cinnamon is also used for its warming properties and to treat digestive issues and respiratory problems.
Modern scientific research has confirmed many of the health benefits of cinnamon, and it is now widely used for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. Cinnamon has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels, improve brain function, reduce inflammation, and lower cholesterol levels.
Today, cinnamon is widely used in cooking and baking, and it is also used as a natural remedy for a variety of health issues. It is available in various forms, including cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, and cinnamon essential oil, and it is used in a wide range of products, including teas, supplements, and cosmetics.
Cinnamon is a rich source of antioxidants, and it also contains several other beneficial compounds, including cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid, and eugenol. Here are some of the nutritional constituents of cinnamon:
- Antioxidants: Cinnamon contains high levels of polyphenol antioxidants, which can help protect against oxidative damage in the body.
- Cinnamaldehyde: This compound is responsible for cinnamon’s distinct flavor and aroma, and it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
- Cinnamic acid: This compound is found in the essential oil of cinnamon and has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Eugenol: This compound is found in cinnamon bark oil and has been shown to have antibacterial and antifungal properties.
- Fiber: Cinnamon contains a small amount of dietary fiber, which can help regulate digestion and support gut health.
Medicinal or Health Benefits
Cinnamon has been shown to have a variety of health benefits, including regulating blood sugar levels, improving brain function, reducing inflammation, and lowering cholesterol levels. Here are some of the health benefits of cinnamon along with references and web links to support them:
- Blood sugar regulation: Cinnamon has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and help regulate blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
- Brain function: Cinnamon has been shown to improve cognitive function and memory, and it may also have a protective effect against neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
- Anti-inflammatory effects: Cinnamon has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help reduce inflammation throughout the body and protect against chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
- Cholesterol reduction: Cinnamon has been shown to lower total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
There have been numerous scientific studies on the health benefits of cinnamon. Here are some references with web links to scientific research on the use of cinnamon for health and medicinal purposes:
- Blood sugar regulation: Cinnamon has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
- Anti-inflammatory effects: Cinnamon has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and may be beneficial in the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
- Antimicrobial activity: Cinnamon has been shown to have antimicrobial activity against a range of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, including antibiotic-resistant strains.
- Cardiovascular health: Cinnamon has been shown to have a positive effect on blood lipid levels, blood pressure, and overall cardiovascular health.
- Cognitive function: Cinnamon has been shown to have neuroprotective effects and may be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- Mang, B., Wolters, M., Schmitt, B., Kelb, K., Lichtinghagen, R., Stichtenoth, D. O., & Hahn, A. (2006). Effects of a cinnamon extract on plasma glucose, HbA1c, and serum lipids in diabetes mellitus type 2. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 36(5), 340-344. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2362.2006.01629.x
- Davis, P. A., Yokoyama, W., & Dean, L. L. (2011). Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis. Journal of Medicinal Food, 14(9), 884-889. https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2010.0180
- Crawford, P. (2009). Effectiveness of cinnamon for lowering hemoglobin A1C in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled trial. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 22(5), 507-512. https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.2009.05.080093
- Lu, J., Zhang, K., Nam, S., Anderson, R. A., Jove, R., & Wen, W. (2012). Novel angiogenesis inhibitory activity in cinnamon extract blocks VEGFR2 kinase and downstream signaling. Carcinogenesis, 33(12), 2501-2510.
- Azimi, P., Ghiasvand, R., Feizi, A., Hariri, M., & Abbasi, B. (2014). Effects of cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, and ginger consumption on markers of glycemic control, lipid profile, oxidative stress, and inflammation in type 2 diabetes patients. The Review of Diabetic Studies, 11(3-4), 258-266. https://doi.org/10.1900/RDS.2014.11.258
- Rasool, M., Sabina, E. P., Lavanya, B., & Sankaranarayanan, C. (2006). Anti-inflammatory effect of the Indian Ayurvedic herbal formulation Triphala on adjuvant-induced arthritis in mice. Phyto
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not approve any dietary supplement or herbal product as a treatment or cure for any specific medical condition. The agency requires that all supplement manufacturers comply with certain labeling requirements and ensure that their products are safe for consumption, but they do not evaluate the efficacy of these products for treating specific diseases.