Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)

Traditional Indications

Cinnamon is antidiarrhoeal, antimicrobial, anthelmintic, astringent, aromatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, hypoglycaemic, orexigenic, refrigerant and a warming digestive tonic. It is indicated for dyspepsia, flatulence, nausea and diarrhoea. Cinnamon is predominantly used as a carminative addition to herbal prescriptions. It is used in flatulent dyspepsia, dyspepsia with nausea, intestinal colic and digestive atony associated with cold and debilitated conditions. It relieves nausea and vomiting. Cinnamon may also significantly help people with type 2 diabetes improve their ability to respond to insulin, thus normalizing their blood sugar levels. Cinnamon improves insulin activity. (1)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Cinnamon bark is known as Rou Gui. Rou Gui is said to be pungent, bitter and cold and enters Heart, Kidney, Liver and Spleen channels. Rou Gui is said to warms the Kidney and fortify Yang, fortify Spleen Yang, alleviate wheezing due to Kidney Yang not grasping Lung Qi. Principal herb for treating floating deficient Yang with symptoms including red face, wheezing, sever sweating (like oil), weak and cold lower extremities. This pattern is called Heat above and Cold below or True Cold with Illusory Heat. Used when upper body is Hot and lower part Cold. Rou Gui disperses Deep Cold and warms the channels to alleviates pain due to Deep Cold. Rou Gui helps nourish Qi and Blood (Xue) and treats Yin type boils. (2)


Cinnamon primarily contains vital oils and other derivatives, such as cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid, and cinnamate. In addition to being an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, lipid-lowering, and cardiovascular-disease-lowering compound, cinnamon has also been reported to have activities against neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. (3)

Cinnamaldehyde exhibits glucolipid lowering effects in diabetic animals by increasing glucose uptake and improving insulin sensitivity in adipose and skeletal muscle tissues, improving glycogen synthesis in liver, restoring pancreatic islets dysfunction, slowing gastric emptying rates, and improving diabetic renal and brain disorders. Cinnamaldehyde exerts these effects through its action on multiple signaling pathways, including PPARs, AMPK, PI3K/IRS-1, RBP4-GLUT4, and ERK/JNK/p38MAPK, TRPA1-ghrelin and Nrf2 pathways. (4)

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is caused by metabolic syndrome (MetS). Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a condition includes insulin resistance and hyperglycemia, central obesity, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, lower levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c) and hypertriglyceridemia. Positive effects of cinnamon in reducing blood pressure, plasma glucose, obesity and ameliorating dyslipidemia have been displayed and Cinnamon and its active ingredients have been shown to have protective effects against MetS. (5)

A randomised controlled trial concluded that Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) is a potential pharmaceutical agent for type-2 diabetes mellitus. (6) The antidiabetic effect of Cinnamomum zeylanicum have been demonstrated in vivo and in vitro. (7)

Cinnamon extracts is an antioxidant and can be used as food antioxidant together with the improvement of food palatability. (8)

The antibacterial effects of cinnamon have applications from farm to food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. (9) The antibacterial effects of cinnamon and its constituents, such as cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid, against pathogenic Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. (10) Cinnamon displays antibacterial effects against porphyromonas gingivalis. (11)

Cinnamon consumption improves clinical symptoms and lowers inflammatory markers in women with rheumatoid arthritis. (12)

Cinnamon extract induces tumour cell death through inhibition of NFkappaB and AP1. (13)

Cinnamon treatment upregulates neuroprotective proteins Parkin and DJ-1 and protects dopaminergic neurons in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease. (14)

Gui Zhi Cinnamomum cassia is part of a Chinese herbal formula known as Shi Quan Da Bu Tang, traditionally used to tonify the Blood and Qi to treat anaemia, anorexia, extreme exhaustion, fatigue, kidney and spleen insufficiency and general weakness, particularly after illness and after chemotherapy. It has been found to potentiate (make it work better) chemotherapy and radiotherapy and inhibit malignant recurrences, prolong survival and prevent and ameliorate adverse toxicities in cancer treatment. (15) In Japanese herbal medicine (Kampo) the formula is known Juzen Taiho To and has been shown to increase expression of heavy metal chelating metallothioneins (MTs). (16) Shi Quan Da Bu Tang also increases transcription factor Nrf2 to support phase II detoxification thus regulate the body's detoxification and antioxidant system. (17)

1. PFAF. Cinnamomum verum 2019.
2. Healing WRIo. Cinnamon (Rou Gui) 2019.
3. Rao PV, Gan SH. Cinnamon: a multifaceted medicinal plant. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM. 2014;2014:642942-.
4. Zhu R, Liu H, Liu C, Wang L, Ma R, Chen B, et al. Cinnamaldehyde in diabetes: A review of pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and safety. Pharmacological research. 2017;122:78-89.
5. Mollazadeh H, Hosseinzadeh H. Cinnamon effects on metabolic syndrome: a review based on its mechanisms. Iranian journal of basic medical sciences. 2016;19(12):1258-70.
6. Ranasinghe P, Galappaththy P, Constantine GR, Jayawardena R, Weeratunga HD, Premakumara S, et al. Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) as a potential pharmaceutical agent for type-2 diabetes mellitus: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2017;18(1):446-.
7. Verspohl EJ, Bauer K, Neddermann E. Antidiabetic effect of Cinnamomum cassia and Cinnamomum zeylanicum In vivo and In vitro. Phytotherapy Research. 2005;19(3):203-6.
8. Mancini-Filho J, Van-Koiij A, Mancini DA, Cozzolino FF, Torres RP. Antioxidant activity of cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, Breyne) extracts. Bollettino chimico farmaceutico. 1998;137(11):443-7.
9. Nabavi SF, Di Lorenzo A, Izadi M, Sobarzo-Sánchez E, Daglia M, Nabavi SM. Antibacterial Effects of Cinnamon: From Farm to Food, Cosmetic and Pharmaceutical Industries. Nutrients. 2015;7(9):7729-48.
10. Vasconcelos NG, Croda J, Simionatto S. Antibacterial mechanisms of cinnamon and its constituents: A review. Microbial Pathogenesis. 2018;120:198-203.
11. Wang Y, Zhang Y, Shi Y-q, Pan X-h, Lu Y-h, Cao P. Antibacterial effects of cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) bark essential oil on Porphyromonas gingivalis. Microbial Pathogenesis. 2018;116:26-32.
12. Shishehbor F, Rezaeyan Safar M, Rajaei E, Haghighizadeh MH. Cinnamon Consumption Improves Clinical Symptoms and Inflammatory Markers in Women With Rheumatoid Arthritis. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2018:1-6.
13. Kwon H-K, Hwang J-S, So J-S, Lee C-G, Sahoo A, Ryu J-H, et al. Cinnamon extract induces tumor cell death through inhibition of NFkappaB and AP1. BMC cancer. 2010;10:392-.
14. Khasnavis S, Pahan K. Cinnamon treatment upregulates neuroprotective proteins Parkin and DJ-1 and protects dopaminergic neurons in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease. Journal of neuroimmune pharmacology : the official journal of the Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology. 2014;9(4):569-81.
15. Chang I-M. Juzen-taiho-to (Shi-Quan-Da-Bu-Tang): Scientific Evaluation and Clinical Application. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2006;3(3):393-4.
16. Anjiki N, Hoshino R, Ohnishi Y, Hioki K, Irie Y, Ishige A, et al. A kampo formula Juzen-taiho-to induces expression of metallothioneins in mice. 2005;19(10):915-7.
17. Wu Q, Zhang D, Tao N, Zhu QN, Jin T, Shi JS, et al. Induction of Nrf2 and metallothionein as a common mechanism of hepatoprotective medicinal herbs. Am J Chin Med. 2014;42(1):207-21.