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Cinnamon (Dalchini): Uses, Side Effects, Precautions & More!

By Dr Ashok Pal +2 more

Introduction 

Cinnamon or Cinnamomum Zeylanicum is also popularly known as ‘Dalchini’ in Hindi. It is a dried bark of a small tree, which grows mainly in southern/western parts of India. Its leaves are commonly called ‘Tejpatra’ in Hindi. For ages, it has been one of the most significant spices available as part of ‘Garam Masala’ in Indian kitchens. It is available in the markets as rolled and dried sticks.1 

Ayurveda defines cinnamon as ‘Tvak’. Cinnamon has a pungent and sweet taste, and it is hot in nature. It is considered beneficial in treating various conditions like oedema, flu, indigestion, cough etc., and thus, recommended for individuals having the ‘Kaphavata’ constitution.1 

Cinnamon sticks and powder

Nutritional Value of Cinnamon:

Cinnamon has the following nutritional value: 

  • Cinnamaldehyde is the bioactive constituent available in cinnamon.2 
  • Various macro and micronutrients are present in cinnamon. These include vitamin A and C, energy, carbohydrate, iron, calcium, and magnesium.2 

Properties of Cinnamon:  

Since ancient times, cinnamon has been used as herbal medicine. The in vitro experimentation and animal trials suggest that cinnamon may have following beneficial properties:

  • It may have anti-inflammatory activity
  • It may show antioxidant activity
  • It may have antitumor properties
  • It may show anti-microbial properties
  • It may have immunomodulatory effects
  • It may also aid in lowering cholesterol levels.3  

Potential Uses of Cinnamon:  

Potential Uses of Cinnamon in Oral Hygiene:    

Cinnamon has been found effective in maintaining oral health in studies. It may usually be used as tooth powder to relieve toothaches and other dental problems. Cinnamon can also act as a mouth freshener and treats bad breath. Thus, it is used as an ingredient in chewing gums.4  However, more human studies are needed to estimate the extent to which it will be beneficial for human health.

Potential Uses of Cinnamon in Blood Circulation and Coagulation:  

Cinnamon (Dalchini) may help with bleeding from cuts and wounds as it may help in coagulating blood. Cinnamon may help to improve the blood circulation in the uterus, and further, it can supports tissue regeneration.4  However more human studies are needed to estimate the extent to which it will be beneficial for human health.

Potential Uses of Cinnamon as an Antioxidant:    

Extracts of cinnamon such as ether, methanolic, and aqueous extracts demonstrate a significant antioxidant activity in studies. Antioxidants can have a significant impact on human health since they respond to free radicals and help in reducing age-associated disorders and damage due to metabolic diseases.4  These activities of cinnamon, however, are yet to be proved in humans.

Potential Uses of Antibacterial Activity of Cinnamon:  

Cinnamon consists of essential oils. When cinnamon and clove oils are combined, they might demonstrate anti-microbial activity against various bacteria and yeast.4  Due to its anti-microbial effect, a paste of cinnamon powder with honey can help with wounds and cuts.1  You must consult a qualified doctor for better advice.

Potential Uses of Antidiabetic Activity of Cinnamon  

Insulin-potentiating factor has been isolated from aqueous extract of cinnamon, and it demonstrated insulin-like activity in studies.4 Cinnamon powder is thus used for lowering blood sugar levels (diabetic patients should use it with caution).1    However, serious conditions like diabetes must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Therefore, kindly consult a doctor and do not self-medicate.

Potential Uses of Cinnamon for Digestive Disorders    

Powdered cinnamon mixed in food can be used to cure minor digestive disorders, stomachaches, and intestinal spasms.1    However more human studies are needed to estimate the extent to which it will be beneficial for human health.

Potential Uses of Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Cinnamon    

Several studies conducted on cinnamon have revealed the anti-inflammatory property of its bark and essential oils.4 

Though various studies show the potential uses of cinnamon in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of benefits of cinnamon on human health.

Cinnamon is known for its medicinal benefits though sometimes it may cause trouble too. In my experience, most of the time, cinnamon has no ill effects. However, frequent usage might irritate your mouth, leading to sores. If you apply it to your skin, it might result in redness and irritation.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Tejpatta – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

How to Use Cinnamon (Dalchini)? 

Applying essential oils:  

We can control dental caries by using a swab dipped in essential oils obtained from cinnamon on the affected teeth. Evidence shows that cinnamon oil effectively removes bad breath and strengthens teeth.1 

Applying the cinnamon paste:  

  • When applied to the forehead, the cinnamon paste can lower the severity of headaches.1 
  • To relieve swelling and pain, you can apply the paste of cinnamon powder on the affected part.1 

Using cinnamon sticks:  

Chewing a small piece of Dalchini will give relief from nausea and vomiting.1  

Cinnamon tea: 

As a preventive measure against COVID-19 infection, as per the Ministry of AYUSH, we can drink ‘kadha’ or herbal tea once or twice a day. This tea is made by boiling mixed herbs (Tulsi (basil), dry ginger powder, Munakka- raisins, black pepper, and cinnamon).5 

Cinnamon powder:  

If taken with honey a few times a day, cinnamon powder gives relief from various conditions such as common cold and intestinal spasms.1  

Before beginning to use supplements containing cinnamon, I strongly recommend discussing with your doctor whether it will react adversely with your routine medications. They could alter the way treatments for diabetes, blood thinning, the heart, and other conditions operate.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Side Effects of Cinnamon 

The most common side effects related to the use of cinnamon are: 

Low Blood Glucose Levels  

Cinnamon stimulates cellular glucose metabolism and mimics insulin. Thus, the major side effect of consuming cinnamon beyond the doctor’s advice is a drop in blood sugar levels. Due to lowered blood sugar, symptoms like fatigue and dizziness may also be observed.4 

Hepatotoxicity – Impact on liver  

Studies report that cinnamon contains coumarin, which is known to be toxic to the liver. Thus, one should take medical advice before consuming cinnamon containing products.6 

Allergies  

Compounds like benzoates present in cinnamon have been associated with food allergies. Clinical practitioners often advise eliminating cinnamon and related food products from the diets of people with allergies.7 

Some fungi infections may respond well to the treatment with cinnamon oil. From my knowledge, cinnamon oil is helpful against a kind of Candida that affects the bloodstream, according to laboratory research done in 2016. Its antibacterial qualities might be to blame for this. 

Dr. Smita barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

Precautions to Take With Cinnamon 

It is suggested that, despite no major reported side effects of cinnamon as a spice or flavouring agent, cinnamon may demonstrate significant undesirable effects as medicinal products when we use it in higher doses or for a longer duration. A higher dosage of cinnamon should only be taken under clinical supervision.4,8 

Also Read: Chirata – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Interaction With Other Drugs 

If taken in large quantities, cinnamon may have an adverse effect when used as medication. Also, unsupervised and unmonitored cinnamon consumption by people having health conditions (like diabetes and liver diseases) may complicate or worsen some conditions.6,8 

  • Cinnamon may assist medications for diabetes in lowering blood sugar, but if taken in very high doses, blood sugar levels may go very low. One should take proper medical advice if they are interested in taking cinnamon supplements.4 
  • The coumarin in cinnamon can interact adversely with medications that affect the liver, increasing the risk of liver damage.6  

Also Read: Shankpushpi – Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Frequently Asked Questions 

1) How is cinnamon obtained? 

Cinnamon is obtained from the dried bark of the cinnamon tree.1 

2) Can we obtain essential oils from other parts of a cinnamon plant? 

Yes, we can obtain essential oils from different parts of a cinnamon plant (bark, leaf, and root-bark). These oils consist of varied components. The bark oil consists of cinnamaldehyde, the leaf oil has eugenol, and in the root-bark oil, we find camphor.9 

3) What are the cosmetic uses of cinnamon? 

Cinnamon also may have many applications in cosmetic products due to its antibacterial and antioxidant properties and presence of anti-tyrosinase agents (tyrosinase is known to increase melanin and age spots).4,10  

4) What gives the unique fragrance to cinnamon? 

Cinnamon has a distinguished flavour and aroma because of the essential oils present in it. The essential oils extracted from cinnamon have cinnamaldehyde and trans-cinnamaldehyde (Cin), which give fragrance to cinnamon.4 

5) How much cinnamon is safe for the liver? 

To avoid an excessive dose of coumarin, adults shouldn’t consume more than 0.1 mg/kg of cinnamon per day since it may cause or worsen already existing liver problems.6   More studies are required to understand the effect of cinnamon on liver, do not self-medicate.

6) Does cinnamon have any effect on acne?  

Studies show that cinnamon extracts are effective against acne-causing bacteria, and hence, they can be used in anti-acne products.11  Consult your dermatologist for better advice.

7) Does cinnamon consumption help in weight loss?  

Cinnamon may help to reduce fat mass and raise serum antioxidants. It may also help in improving metabolism and reducing free radicals in our bodies. Thus, cinnamon can be considered an ayurvedic supplement that helps in weight loss, though we require more well-designed and structured studies to establish this property.4,12  

Also Read: Nagkesar – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

References: 

  1. Central Council for Research In Ayurvedic Sciences; Important uses of Dalchini http://ccras.nic.in/content/important-uses-dalchini 
  1. Goel B, Mishra S. Medicinal and Nutritional Perspective of Cinnamon: A Mini review. European Journal of Medicinal Plants. 2020 Feb 27:10-6. 10.9734/ejmp/2020/v31i330218  
  1. Gruenwald J, Freder J, Armbruester N. Cinnamon and health. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 2010 Sep 30;50(9):822-34. DOI: 10.1080/10408390902773052 
  1. Rao PV, Gan SH. Cinnamon: a multifaceted medicinal plant. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014 Oct;2014. 
  1. Ministry of AYUSH, Ayurveda’s immunity-boosting measures for self-care during COVID 19 crisis. https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/ImmunityBoostingAYUSHAdvisory.pdf 
  1. Iwata N, Kainuma M, Kobayashi D, Kubota T, Sugawara N, Uchida A, Ozono S, Yamamuro Y, Furusyo N, Ueda K, Tahara E. The relation between hepatotoxicity and the total coumarin intake from traditional Japanese medicines containing cinnamon bark. Frontiers in pharmacology. 2016 Jun 20; 7:174. 
  1. Fitzpatrick L, Healy CM, McCartan BE, Flint SR, McCreary CE, Rogers S. Patch testing for food”associated allergies in orofacial granulomatosis. Journal of oral pathology & medicine. 2011 Jan;40(1):10-3. 
  1. Hajimonfarednejad M, Ostovar M, Raee MJ, Hashempur MH, Mayer JG, Heydari M. Cinnamon: A systematic review of adverse events. Clinical Nutrition. 2019 Apr 1;38(2):594-602. 
  1. Wijesekera RO, Chichester CO. The chemistry and technology of cinnamon. Critical Reviews in Food Science & Nutrition. 1978 Sep 1;10(1):1-30.  
  1. Mukherjee PK, Biswas R, Sharma A, Banerjee S, Biswas S, Katiyar CK. Validation of medicinal herbs for anti-tyrosinase potential. Journal of herbal medicine. 2018 Dec 1;14:1-6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hermed.2018.09.002  
  2. Chaudhary SS, Tariq M, Zaman R, Imtiyaz S. The In vitro anti-acne activity of two unani drugs. Anc Sci Life. 2013 Jul;33(1):35-8. doi: 10.4103/0257-7941.134594. PMID: 25161328; PMCID: PMC4140019.  
  3. Santos HO, da Silva GA. To what extent does cinnamon administration improve the glycemic and lipid profiles?. Clinical nutrition ESPEN. 2018 Oct 1;27:1-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2018.07.011  

Disclaimer:

The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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