What is it?
Cassia cinnamon is a plant. People use the bark and flower for medicine.
Cassia cinnamon is used for many conditions, but so far science has not confirmed that it is effective for any of them. Research does show, however, that it is probably not effective for lowering blood sugar in type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
In addition to diabetes, Cassia cinnamon is used for gas (flatulence), muscle and stomach spasms, preventing nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, infections, the common cold, and loss of appetite.
Some people use it for erectile dysfunction (ED), hernia, bed-wetting, joint conditions, menopausal symptoms, menstrual problems, and to cause abortions. Cassia cinnamon is also used for chest pain, kidney disorders, high blood pressure, cramps, cancer, and as a “blood purifier.”
Cassia cinnamon is used in suntan lotions, nasal sprays, mouthwashes, gargles, toothpaste, and as a “counterirritant” applied to the skin in liniments. A counterirritant is a substance that creates pain and swelling at the point of application with the goal of lessening pain and swelling at another location.
In food and beverages, cassia cinnamon is used as a flavoring agent.
There are a lot of different types of cinnamon. Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon cinnamon) and Cinnamomum aromaticum (Cassia cinnamon or Chinese cinnamon) are commonly used. In many cases, the cinnamon spice purchased in food stores contains a combination of these different types of cinnamon. So far, only cassia cinnamon has been shown to have any effect on blood sugar in humans. However, Cinnamomum verum also contains the ingredient thought to be responsible for lowering blood sugar. See the separate listing for Cinnamon bark.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for CASSIA CINNAMON are as follows:
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Diabetes. Early studies suggested that cassia cinnamon might be effective for controlling type 2 diabetes. But now, there is conflicting research. Some studies show benefit and other studies show no benefit.
- Loss of appetite.
- Muscle and stomach spasms.
- Intestinal gas.
- Common cold.
- Bed wetting.
- Menstrual problems.
- Chest pain.
- High blood pressure.
- Kidney problems.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of cassia cinnamon for these uses.
Cassia cinnamon contains the chemical cinnamaldehyde, which might have activity against bacteria and fungi.
Cassia cinnamon is LIKELY SAFE when used in amounts commonly found in foods and in medicinal doses.
It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken in large amounts, long-term. Taking large amounts of cassia cinnamon might cause side effects in some people. Cassia cinnamon can contain large amounts of a chemical called coumarin. In people who are sensitive, coumarin might cause or worsen liver disease.
When applied to the skin, cassia cinnamon can sometimes cause skin irritation and allergic skin reactions.
Special precautions & warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of cassia cinnamon during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes: Cassia cinnamon can affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully, if you have diabetes and use cassia cinnamon in amounts larger than the amounts normally found in food.
Liver disease: Cassia cinnamon contains some chemicals that might harm the liver. If you have liver disease, don’t take cassia cinnamon in amounts larger than the amounts normally found in food.
Surgery: Cassia cinnamon might affect blood sugar and might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking cassia cinnamon at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Do not take this combination.
Medications that can harm the liver (Hepatotoxic drugs)
Taking very large doses of cassia cinnamon might harm the liver, especially in people with existing liver disease. Taking large amounts of cassia cinnamon along with medications that might also harm the liver might increase the risk of liver damage. Do not take large amounts of cassia cinnamon if you are taking a medication that can harm the liver.
Some medications that can harm the liver include acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), amiodarone (Cordarone), carbamazepine (Tegretol), isoniazid (INH), methotrexate (Rheumatrex), methyldopa (Aldomet), fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), erythromycin (Erythrocin, Ilosone, others), phenytoin (Dilantin), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), and many others.
Be cautious with this combination.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Cassia cinnamon might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking cassia cinnamon along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, metformin (Glucophage), pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
Herbs and supplements that might harm the liver
There is some concern that taking large amounts of cassia cinnamon might cause serious liver damage in some people, especially in people who already have liver disease. Taking cassia cinnamon along with other products that could harm the liver might increase the risk of developing liver damage. Some of the products that might harm the liver include chaparral, comfrey, DHEA, germander, kava, niacin, pennyroyal oil, red yeast, and others.
Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar
Cassia cinnamon might lower blood sugar levels. Taking it along with other herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar could lower blood sugar too much in some people. Some herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar include alpha-lipoic acid, bitter melon, chromium, devil's claw, fenugreek, garlic, guar gum, horse chestnut, Panax ginseng, psyllium, Siberian ginseng, and others.
There are no known interactions with foods.
The appropriate dose of cassia cinnamon depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for cassia cinnamon. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
Bastard Cinnamon, Canela de Cassia, Canela Molida, Canelle, Cannelle Bâtarde, Cannelle Cassia, Cannelle de Ceylan, Cannelle de Chine, Cannelle de Cochinchine, Cannelle de Padang, Cannelle de Saigon, Cannelier Casse, Canton Cassia, Casse, Casse Odorante, Cassia, Cassia Aromaticum, Cassia Bark, Cassia Lignea, Chinese Cinnamon, Cinnamomi Cassiae Cortex, Cinnamomum, Cinnamomum aromaticum, Cinnamomum cassia, Cinnamomum ramulus, Cinnamon, Cinnamon Essential Oil, Cinnamon Flos, Cinnamoni Cortex, Cinnamonomi Cortex, Cortex Cinnamomi, Écorce de Cassia, False Cinnamon, Fausse Cannelle, Gui Zhi, Huile Essentielle de Cannelle, Keishi, Laurier des Indes, Nees, Ramulus Cinnamomi, Rou Gui, Sthula Tvak, Taja, Zimbluten.
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).
To see all references for the Cassia cinnamon page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/1002.html.
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- Baker WL, Gutierrez-Williams G, White CM, et al. Effect of cinnamon on glucose control and lipid parameters. Diabetes Care 2008;31:41-3. View abstract.
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- He ZD, Qiao CF, Han QB, et al. Authentication and quantitative analysis on the chemical profile of cassia bark (cortex cinnamomi) by high-pressure liquid chromatography. J Agric Food Chem 2005;53:2424-8. View abstract.
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- Press release. Cinnamon capsules to reduce blood sugar are medicinal products! Efficacy has not been scientifically proven - some products contain high levels of coumarin. Federal Institute of Risk Assessment (BfM), Germany, November 11, 2006. Available at: http://www.bfarm.de/nn_425226/EN/press/press-releases/pm2006-14-en.html.
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- 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;50:177-82.. View abstract.
- Jarvill-Taylor KJ, Anderson RA, Graves DJ. A hydroxychalcone derived from cinnamon functions as a mimetic for insulin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. J Am Coll Nutr 2001;20:327-36. View abstract.
- Anderson RA, Broadhurst CL, Polansky MM, et al. Isolation and Characterization of Polyphenol Type-A Polymers from Cinnamon with Insulin-like Biological Activity. J Agric Food Chem 2004;52:65-70. View abstract.
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- Koh WS, Yoon SY, Kwon BM, et al. Cinnamaldehyde inhibits lymphocyte proliferation and modulates T-cell differentiation. Int J Immunopharmacol 1998;20:643-60. View abstract.
- Lee HS, Ahn YJ. Growth-Inhibiting Effects of Cinnamomum cassia Bark-Derived Materials on Human Intestinal Bacteria. J Agric Food Chem 1998;46:8-12. View abstract.
- Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 -- Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid= 786bafc6f6343634fbf79fcdca7061e1&rgn=div5&view= text&node=21:126.96.36.199.13&idno=21
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Last reviewed - 06/11/2013
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