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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Nov 13, 2018.

What is Cinnamon?

Cinnamon plants have oval-lanceolate, rough-textured leaves approximately 7 to 20 cm in length. The spice is derived from the brown bark that forms quills with longitudinal striations. Cinnamon bark is available in ground form as a spice. The plant is native to Sri Lanka, southeastern India, Indonesia, South America, and the West Indies.

Scientific Name(s)

Cinnamomum verum J.S. Presl, Cinnamomum cassia Blume, Cinnamomum zeylanicum Nees, Cinnamomum loureirii Nees. Family: Laureaceae.

Common Name(s)

Cinnamon, cinnamomon, Ceylon cinnamon, Chinese cinnamon, Chinese cassia, Saigon cinnamon.

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Reports of cinnamon use date back to 2000 BC, when texts note the importation of cinnamon from China to Egypt. Cinnamon is also mentioned in the Bible, most often for its aromatic qualities. Cinnamon is primarily used as a spice, taste enhancer, or aromatic. Historically, cinnamon has been used to treat GI upset and dysmenorrhea disorders of microcirculation, among other broad-ranging uses. The essential oil derived from the plant has been used for its activity against various microorganisms and fungi.

General uses

Cinnamon is used as a spice and aromatic. Traditionally, the bark or oil has been used to combat microorganisms, diarrhea, and other GI disorders, and dysmenorrhea, although there is limited data to support these uses. Evidence is lacking to support the use of cinnamon in the management of diabetes. Research has focused on anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial activity.

What is the recommended dosage?

Ground cinnamon is generally given at dosages of 1 to 1.5 g/day in studies of diabetes without reported adverse reactions.


Contraindicated in people with known hypersensitivity to cinnamon or Peru Balsam. Other contraindications have not yet been identified.


Data are insufficient for adequate risk to benefit analysis. Generally recognized as safe when used as food.


None well documented.

Side Effects

Heavy exposure may cause skin irritation and allergic reactions.


Information is lacking.


1. Cinnamon. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons 4.0. May 2009. Accessed May 5, 2009.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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