Most Americans consider cinnamon a simple flavoring, but in traditional Chinese medicine, it's one of the oldest remedies, prescribed for everything from diarrhea and chills to influenza and parasitic worms. Cinnamon comes from the bark of a small Southeast Asian evergreen tree and is available as an oil, extract, or dried powder. It's closely related to cassia ( C. cassia ) and contains many of the same components, but the bark and oils from C. zeyleanicum are thought to have a better flavor.
What Is Cinnamon Used for Today?
Based on the results of one preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled study, cinnamon has been widely advertised as an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes as well as high cholesterol. However, the evidence for this is mixed.
What is the Scientific Evidence for Cinnamon?
However, this study has some odd features. The most important is that it found no significant difference in benefit between the various doses of cinnamon. This is called lack of a dose-related effect, and it generally casts doubt on the results of a study. The researchers counter that perhaps even 1 g of cinnamon is sufficient to produce the maximum cholesterol-lowering effect, and therefore, higher doses simply didn’t add any further benefit. There is another problem with this study as well: no improvements were seen in the placebo group. This too is unusual, and also casts doubt on the results.
The bottom line: The evidence regarding cinnamon as a treatment for diabetes or high cholesterol is highly inconsistent, suggesting that if cinnamon is indeed effective, the dosage is very unclear and its benefits may be minimal at most.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 00/40/2014 -