Name: Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) Perennial Evergreen

Family: Lauraceae

Common names: Cassia, False Cinnamon, Chinese Cinnamon

Range: Native to India, China, Vietnam

Parts Used: Bark, as curled sticks or powdered

Preparations: Flavoring spice that can be added to cooked foods, desserts, baked goods, and beverages


While most people are familiar with this kitchen spice, the cinnamon purchased in western supermarkets is actually cassia and not true cinnamon, which is why this species is sometimes called “False Cinnamon”. In fact, some confirmed purists go as far as calling cassia “Bastard Cinnamon.” In contrast, true cinnamon (C. vernum) is native to Sri Lanka and cultivated in China, Vietnam, Brazil, Egypt and India, while the cassia cinnamon available in the U.S. is obtained from Indonesia.

Cassia cinnamon holds a place of prominence in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it is regarded as one of the 50 Fundamental Herbs referenced in ancient medical texts. It is considered to be a “warm” herb related to “fire,” making it appropriate for treating ailments associated with the kidneys. In Europe, cinnamon is commonly used to treat gastrointestinal disorders, including nausea, diarrhea, and appetite loss. In fact, the German E Commission has approved cinnamon for these conditions.

Currently, cinnamon is being studied for its apparent ability to improve glucose metabolism in type II diabetics. This action is thought to be due to the presence of proanthocyanidins, which stimulate cell membrane insulin receptors and significantly increase glucose uptake and reduce serum glucose levels. In one recent study, cinnamon also reduced triglyceride levels by 18% and lipoprotein (LDL) by 7%, suggesting that the spice may also lower the risk of heart disease, a condition closely associated with diabetes. Of particular interest is the recent finding that cinnamon-based proanthocyanidins inhibit the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), rogue proteins that promote oxidative stress and free radical activity, which can lead to damaged arteries.

Constituents: cinnzelanol, coumarin, proanthocyanidins

Cautions/Contraindications: Diabetics should exercise caution since cinnamon increases insulin sensitivity. However, moderate use in cooking is perfectly safe.

Disclaimer: This information has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.