What is it?
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. There is inconsistent evidence on the effectiveness of cassia cinnamon for treating diabetes. Early research suggests that taking cassia cinnamon for about 6 six weeks might help control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. However, other evidence suggest that taking cassia cinnamon daily for 12 weeks improves blood pressure, but not cholesterol, blood sugar, or weight in people with diabetes. Overall, research is inconclusive. Some studies show benefit and other studies show no benefit.
- Mosquito repellant. Early research suggests that applying cassia cinnamon oil cream to the skin can protect against mosquito bites.
- Loss of appetite.
- Muscle and stomach spasms.
- Intestinal gas.
- Common cold.
- Bed wetting.
- Menstrual problems.
- Chest pain.
- High blood pressure.
- Kidney problems.
- Other conditions.
How does it work?
Are there safety concerns?
Cassia cinnamon is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in large amounts for a long period of time. 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 lower 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, do not take cassia cinnamon in amounts larger than the amounts normally found in food.
Surgery: Cassia cinnamon might lower 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.
Are there interactions with medications?
- 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.
- 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.
Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?
- 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.
Are there interactions with foods?
- There are no known interactions with foods.
What dose is used?
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.
- Chang, K. S., Tak, J. H., Kim, S. I., Lee, W. J., and Ahn, Y. J. Repellency of Cinnamomum cassia bark compounds and cream containing cassia oil to Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) under laboratory and indoor conditions. Pest.Manag.Sci. 2006;62:1032-1038. View abstract.
- Nahas, R. and Moher, M. Complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Can Fam.Physician 2009;55:591-596. View abstract.
- Choi, J., Lee, K. T., Ka, H., Jung, W. T., Jung, H. J., and Park, H. J. Constituents of the essential oil of the Cinnamomum cassia stem bark and the biological properties. Arch Pharm Res 2001;24:418-423. View abstract.
- Lu T, Sheng H Wu J Cheng Y Zhu J Chen Y. Cinnamon extract improves fasting blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin level in Chinese patients with type 2 diabetes. Nutr Res. 2012;32:408-412. View abstract.
- Mang, B., Wolters, M., Schmitt, B., Kelb, K., Lichtinghagen, R., Stichtenoth, D. O., and Hahn, A. Effects of a cinnamon extract on plasma glucose, HbA, and serum lipids in diabetes mellitus type 2. Eur.J.Clin.Invest 2006;36:340-344. View abstract.
- Suppapitiporn, S., Kanpaksi, N., and Suppapitiporn, S. The effect of cinnamon cassia powder in type 2 diabetes mellitus. J.Med.Assoc.Thai. 2006;89 Suppl 3:S200-S205. View abstract.
- Akilen, R., Tsiami, A., Devendra, D., and Robinson, N. Glycated haemoglobin and blood pressure-lowering effect of cinnamon in multi-ethnic Type 2 diabetic patients in the UK: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Diabet.Med. 2010;27:1159-1167. View abstract.
- Blevins SM, Leyva MJ, Brown J, et al. Effect of cinnamon on glucose and lipid levels in non insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2007;30:2236-7. View abstract.
- Crawford P. Effectiveness of cinnamon for lowering hemoglobin A1C in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled trial. J Am Board Fam Med 2009;22:507-12. View abstract.
- 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.
- Felter SP, Vassallo JD, Carlton BD, Daston GP. A safety assessment of coumarin taking into account species-specificity of toxicokinetics. Food Chem Toxicol 2006;44:462-75. View abstract.
- 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.
- Miller KG, Poole CF, Pawloski TMP. Classification of the botanical origin of cinnamon by solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography. Chromatographia 1996;42:639-46.
- 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.
- Vanschoonbeek K, Thomassen BJ, Senden JM, et al. Cinnamon supplementation does not improve glycemic control in postmenopausal type 2 diabetes patients. J Nutr 2006;136:977-80. View abstract.
- Verspohl EJ, Bauer K, Neddermann E. Antidiabetic effect of Cinnamomum cassia and Cinnamomum zeylanicum in vivo and in vitro. Phytother Res 2005;19:203-6. View abstract.
- Onderoglu S, Sozer S, Erbil KM, et al. The evaluation of long-term effcts of cinnamon bark and olive leaf on toxicity induced by streptozotocin administration to rats. J Pharm Pharmacol 1999;51:1305-12. View abstract.
- Drake TE, Maibach HI. Allergic contact dermatitis and stomatitis caused by a cinnamic aldehyde-flavored toothpaste. Arch Dermatol 1976;112:202-3. View abstract.
- De Benito V, Alzaga R. Occupational allergic contact dermatitis from cassia (Chinese cinnamon) as a flavouring agent in coffee. Contact Dermatitis 1999;40:165. View abstract.
- Khan A, Safdar M, Ali Khan M, et al. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2003;26:3215-8. View abstract.
- 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.
- Kwon BM, Lee SH, Choi SU, et al. Synthesis and in vitro cytotoxicity of cinnamaldehydes to human solid tumor cells. Arch Pharm Res 1998;21:147-52. View abstract.
- 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=21:184.108.40.206.13&idno=21