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Cinnamon is such a common staple in our spice cabinet that often we don’t even realize it is an herb with several medicinal benefits. Cinnamon has several varieties including: Cinnamomum Verum, Cinnamomum Cassia, and Cinnamomum zeylanicum (1,2). The most common variety found in the United States is Cinnamomum Cassia which is considered less valuable than the other varieties and has a stronger taste (1,2). Cinnamon has a long history and dates back to as early as 2800 B.C. in Chinese literature and is mentioned in the Bible as well (3).

It has traditionally been used as a flavor additive and for its warming effects in Chinese medicine (1,2). Western nutrition tends to look at foods for their macronutrient (carbohydrate, fat, or protein) levels and micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) levels. Chinese medicine takes a different angle looking at the energetic properties of foods and placing them in categories of warming, cooling, dry, and damp. A very simplistic explanation of Chinese medicine is that food and herbs are then used to balance the system when it has gotten too warm, cool, dry or damp, each of which is associated with specific symptoms. I personally think a mix of both traditions is helpful and therapeutic.

Modern research has looked at the use of cinnamon to stabilize insulin levels, lower cholesterol and treat digestive issues with mixed results (4). Meaning that some studies have found that cinnamon successfully stabilized insulin levels for people with conditions like diabetes, lowered cholesterol in people with high cholesterol and aided in easing digestive issues. However, some research found no clinically significant difference with the use of cinnamon. What this means is that in some cases cinnamon helped and in others it didn't seem to make a difference but the condition did not worsen because of cinnamon. 

Cinnamon is very versatile and can be used as a dry power, a fluid extract, tea, essential oil, infusion or decoction (4). It is a very safe herb with little complications (4). Issues have been reported with topical use of essential oil causing dermatitis and for those who have an allergy to Cinnamon (4). A therapeutic dose of dried cinnamon varies between 1-6g depending the intended use (4). Large amounts of cinnamon are contraindicated in pregnancy and while breastfeeding however average amounts used in everyday cooking have been found to be very safe (4).

Overall cinnamon is a great tasting, easy to find, warming herb with some potentially excellent benefits for those who may have diabetes, high cholesterol or autoimmune disorders. It is very safe so despite mixed results in modern research it can be an excellent addition to the diet and potentially aid in living a healthier lifestyle! I wouldn't recommend starting a therapeutic dose while pregnant or breastfeeding but it is still safe to incorporate in cooking. For those with diabetes, high cholesterol, or autoimmune disorders discuss with a health care practitioner the best use of cinnamon with your other treatment plans.


  1. Pereira J. 140. Cinnamomum zeylanicum, Nees.-the Ceylon Cinnamon. 140. Cinnamomum zeylanicum, Nees.-The Ceylon cinnamon. | Henriette's Herbal Homepage. Published 1185. Accessed October 3, 2021.

  2. Cinnamomum.-cinnamon. Henriette's Herbal - King's American Dispensatory. Published 1898. Accessed October 3, 2021.

  3. Trowbridge Filippone P. Interesting highlights in the colorful history of cinnamon. The Spruce Eats. Published August 19, 2019. Accessed October 3, 2021.

  4. Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs & Natural Supplements: An Evidence-Based Guide. Sydney: Elsevier Australia; 2010.

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