Review article: cinnamon- and benzoate-free diet as a primary treatment for orofacial granulomatosis

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Oct;34(7):687-701. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04792.x. Epub 2011 Aug 4.


Background: Orofacial granulomatosis is a rare chronic granulomatous inflammatory disease of the lips, face and mouth. The aetiology remains unclear but may involve an allergic component. Improvements have been reported with cinnamon- and benzoate-free diets.

Aims: To explore the prevalence of compound and food sensitivity and examine the dietary treatments used in orofacial granulomatosis.

Methods: A comprehensive literature search was carried out and relevant studies from January 1933 to January 2010 were identified using the electronic database search engines; AGRIS 1991-2008, AMED 1985-2008, British Nursing and Index archive 1985-2008, EMBASE 1980-2008, evidence based medicine review databases (e.g. Cochrane DSR), International Pharmaceutical and Medline 1950-2008.

Results: Common sensitivities identified, predominantly through patch testing, were to benzoic acid (36%) food additives (33%), perfumes and flavourings (28%), cinnamaldehyde (27%), cinnamon (17%), benzoates (17%) and chocolate (11%). The cinnamon- and benzoate-free diet has been shown to provide benefit in 54-78% of patients with 23% requiring no adjunctive therapies. A negative or positive patch test result to cinnamaldehyde, and benzoates did not predict dietary outcome. The most concentrated source of benzoate exposure is from food preservatives. Use of liquid enteral formulas can offer a further dietary therapy, particularly in children with orofacial granulomatosis.

Conclusion: Management of orofacial granulomatosis is challenging but cinnamon- and benzoate-free diets appear to have a definite role to play.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Benzoates / adverse effects*
  • Cinnamomum zeylanicum / adverse effects*
  • Diet*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Granulomatosis, Orofacial / diet therapy*
  • Humans
  • Patch Tests / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Benzoates