Herbs & Botanicals
Cinnamon (rou gui / gui zhi)
What is cinnamon? What is it used for?
Cinnamon is one of the worlds most popular spices. It is
also one of the oldest herbal medicines: some Chinese texts have
mentioned its use in herbal remedies more than 4,000 years ago.
Cinnamon comes from the cinnamon tree, which grows in tropical
areas, including parties of India, China, Madagascar, Brazil and
the Caribbean. The trees inner bark and essential oil are
used to make herbal products. Pieces of the bark may be sold individually,
or the bark may be crushed and sold in a powdered form.
The medicinal effects of cinnamon are attributed to terpenoids,
substances found in the trees essential oil. Small studies
conducted on AIDS patients have found that cinnamon oil as a potent
anti-fungal, helping rid the body of oral candida infections. Cinnamon
has also been shown to fight the bacteria that causes most ulcers.
Test-tube studies have found that other substances in the essential
oil, diterpenes, may help reduce allergies.
How much cinnamon should I take?
The German Commission E suggests taking 2-4 grams of cinnamon powder
daily. No more than a few drops of essential cinnamon oil should
be taken per day, and then only for a few days at a time. Some practitioners
also recommend 2-3 ml of cinnamon tincture three times per day.
What forms of cinnamon are available?
Cinnamon powder and cinnamon sticks are widely available; they
can be found at supermarkets, health food stores and specialty stores.
Many stores also sell cinnamon oil and cinnamon tinctures.
What can happen if I take too much cinnamon?
Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions
should I take?
Chronic use of cinnamon may cause inflammation in the mouth. Some
individuals may develop allergies and skin conditions after exposure
to cinnamon; therefore, it should initially be used in small amounts,
and then for only a few days at a time. The German Commission E
does not recommend cinnamon for use by pregnant and lactating women.
At this time, there are no well-known drug interactions with cinnamon.
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The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal
Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications,
1998, pp. 1101.
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- Quale JM, Landman D, Zaman MM, et al. In vitro
activity of cinnamomum zeylanicum against azole resistant
and sensitive candida species and a pilot study of cinnamon for
oral candidiasis. Am J Chin Med 1996;24:1039.