WebMD Medical Reference
By R. Morgan Griffin
Reviewed By David Kiefer, MD
Cinnamon is best known as a spice, sprinkled on toast and lattes. But extracts from the bark of the cinnamon tree have also been used traditionally as medicine throughout the world.
Why do people take cinnamon?
Some research has found that a particular type of cinnamon, cassia cinnamon, may lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. However, other studies have not found a benefit. Studies of cinnamon for lowering cholesterol and treating yeast infections in people with HIV have been inconclusive.
Laboratory studies have found that cinnamon may reduce inflammation, have antioxidant effects, and fight bacteria. But it’s unclear what the implications are for people.
For now, studies have been mixed, and it’s unclear what role cinnamon may play in improving health.
How much cinnamon should you take?
Because cinnamon is an unproven treatment, there is no established dose. Some recommend 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2-4 grams) of powder a day. Some studies have used between 1 gram and 6 grams of cinnamon. Very high doses may be toxic.
Can you get cinnamon naturally from foods?
Cinnamon is an additive to countless foods. When purchased in the store, common spice cinnamon could be one of two types or a mixture of both. It is either “true” or Ceylon cinnamon, which is easier to grind but thought to be less effective for diabetes. Or, and more likely, it could be the darker-colored cassia cinnamon.
What are the risks of taking cinnamon?
- Side effects. Cinnamon usually causes no side effects. Heavy use of cinnamon may irritate the mouth and lips, causing sores. In some people, it can cause an allergic reaction. Applied to the skin, it might cause redness and irritation.
- Risks. Very high quantities of cassia cinnamon may be toxic, particularly in people with liver problems. Because cinnamon may lower blood sugar, people with diabetes may need to adjust their treatment if they use cinnamon supplements. People who have cancer that’s affected by hormone levels, like breast cancer, should not take cinnamon. An ingredient in some cinnamon products, coumarin, may cause liver problems. Given the lack of evidence about its safety, cinnamon — as a treatment — is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Interactions. If you take any medicines regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using cinnamon supplements. They could interact with medicines like antibiotics, diabetes drugs, blood thinners, heart medicines, and others.