Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum verum, C. zeylanicum, C. cassia) is harvested from a variety of evergreen tree that is native to Sri Lanka, China, and India. The use of cinnamon dates back thousands of years (2700 B.C.E). Chinese herbalists mentioned it as a treatment for fever, diarrhea, and menstrual problems. Indian Ayurvedic healers used it in a similar manner.
Cinnamon bark extract is a common ingredient in many products such as toothpaste, mouthwash, perfume, soap, cough syrup, and cola drinks. Apart from its use as a flavoring agent, it is also valuable in the treatment of various ailments. Modern herbalists prescribe cinnamon bark extract as a remedy for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and indigestion.
The active ingredients of the bark have antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, antispasmodic, and antifungal properties. Multiple studies, including a study in 2013 and published in the Journal of Food Science have indicated that oil from cinnamon bark inhibits the production of listeriolysin, a protein released by both Listeria and Salmonella bacteria, showing its potential to prevent the spread of foodborne illness thus qualifying itself as a natural food preservative. Japanese research has shown that cinnamaldehyde, one of the constituents of cinnamon bark, is a sedative and analgesic. Eugenol, another component, contains pain-relieving qualities.
Cinnamon bark is helpful in strengthening and supporting a weak digestive system. Research indicates that cinnamon bark breaks down fats in the digestive system, making it a valuable digestive aid.
Cinnamon bark is also known to control blood sugar levels in diabetics. Several studies in the early 2000s, including one by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that cinnamon bark may reduce the amount of insulin required for glucose metabolism. A 2013 study in Nutrition and Metabolic Insights found that the addition of cinnamon to a regimen including dietary changes had a much greater effect on lowering blood glucose levels in diabetics than the effects achieved with dietary changes alone. This study also suggested that cinnamon improves the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates. Additionally, a study from Pakistan, published in Diabetes Care reported that daily consumption of 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon significantly reduced blood glucose, LDL (bad) cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes.
In 2012, a review in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition examined studies relating to the varied health benefits of cinnamon. The review acknowledged many health benefits of cinnamon: anti-microbial, anti-fungal, antiviral, anti-oxidant, anti-tumor, blood pressure-lowering, cholesterol and lipid-lowering, and gastro-protective.