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Cinnamon is the dried bark of an evergreen busy tree. There is a particular season for pealing of the bark. It is considered superior compared to cassia though they belong to the same class. Cinnamon is used in a wide variety of foods, beverages, pharmaceuticals, liquors, cosmetics, perfumery and toiletries.

A major ingredient of garam masala, Cinnamon is used whole in Savoury rice dishes. Khadi, a popular yogurt drink in Gujarat and other northern states, has Cinnamon or cassia as one of its ingredients. Cinnamon oil is an international favourite in beverages and perfumery, while Cinnamon oleoresin is a popular flavour for processed foods. Cinnamon in grown in various parts of southern India and a remarkable quantity is produced from Kerala.


Cinnamomum zeylanicum Bl. (Lauraceae)
Cinnamomum loureirii Nees
Cinnamomum burmanii (Nees) Bl.

Synonyms and Part Used

Ceylon Cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum J.S. Presl., True Cinnamon
Cinnamomum obtusifolium Nees var.loureirii Perr. & Eb., Saigon Cassia, Saigon Cinnamon
Batavia Cassia, Batavia Cinnamon, Padang-Cassia, Panang Cinnamon

Part Used
Inner bark



Volatile oils
Up to 4%. Cinnamaldehyde (60–75%), benzaldehyde and cuminaldehyde; phenols (4–10%) including eugenol, and methyl eugenol, pinene, phellandrene, cymeme and caryophyllene (hydrocarbons), eugenol acetate, cinnamyl acetate and benzyl benzoate (esters), linalool (an alcohol). Of the various types of cinnamon bark the oil of C. zeylanicum is stated to contain the highest amount of eugenol. Cinnamon oil differs from the closely related cassia oil in that the latter is reported to be devoid of eugenol, monoterpenoids and sesquiterpenoids.

Other constituents
Calcium oxalate, cinnzeylanin, cinnzeylanol, coumarin, gum, mucilage, resins and sugars.

Other plant parts
Cinnamon leaf oil contains much higher concentrations of eugenol, from 80 to 96% depending on the species. A cinnamon leaf oil of Chinese origin, Cinnamomum japonicum Sieb., contains a high concentration of safrole (60%) and only about 3% eugenol.


Food Use
Cinnamon is listed by the Council of Europe as a natural source of food flavouring (category N2). This category indicates that cinnamon can be added to foodstuffs in small quantities, with a possible limitation of an active principle (as yet unspecified) in the final product.It is commonly used as a spice in cooking, although at levels much less than the stated therapeutic doses. The acceptable daily intake of cinnamaldehyde has been temporarily estimated as 700 μg/kg body weight.

Herbal Use
Cinnamon is stated to possess antispasmodic, carminative, orexigenic, antidiarrhoeal, antimicrobial, refrigerant and anthelmintic properties. It has been used for anorexia, intestinal colic, infantile diarrhoea, common cold,influenza, and specifically for flatulent colic, and dyspepsia with nausea.Cinnamon bark is also stated to be astringent, and cinnamon oil is reported to possess carminative and antiseptic properties.

Dried bark
0.5–1.0 g as infusion three times daily.
Liquid extract
0.5–1.0 mL (1 : 1 in 70% alcohol) three times daily.
Tincture of Cinnamon
2–4 mL.

Pharmacological Actions

In vitro and animal studies
Cinnamon oil has antifungal, antiviral, bactericidal and larvicidal properties.A carbon dioxide extract of cinnamon bark (0.1%) has been documented to suppress completely the growth of numerous microorganisms including Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans.

Antiseptic and anaesthetic properties have been documented for eugenol and two insecticidal compounds, cinnzeylanin and cinnzeylanol, have been isolated.Tannins are known to possess astringent properties.

Weak tumour–promoting activity on the mouse skin and weak cytotoxic activity against HeLa cells has been documented for eugenol.

Clinical studies

Side–effects, Toxicity
None documented for cinnamon bark. Cinnamon oil contains cinnamaldehyde, an irritant and sensitising principle.The dermal LD50 of the oil is reported to be 690 mg/kg body weight. The accepted daily intake of eugenol is up to 2.5 mg/kg.

Contact with cinnamon bark or oil may cause an allergic reaction.Cinnamon oil is stated to be a dermal and mucous membrane irritant, and a dermal sensitiser.It is a hazardous oil and should not be used on the skin.The oil should not be taken internally.

There are no known problems with the use of cinnamon during pregnancy and lactation, provided that doses do not greatly exceed the amounts used in foods.

Pharmaceutical Comment

The reputed antimicrobial, antiseptic, anthelmintic, carminative and antispasmodic properties of cinnamon are probably attributable to the volatile oil. The astringent properties of tannins may account for the claimed antidiarrhoeal action. Cinnamon should not be used in amounts greatly exceeding those used in foods.


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