Chemistry, biogenesis, and biological activities of Cinnamomum zeylanicum

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011 Jul;51(6):547-62. doi: 10.1080/10408391003699550.


The genus Cinnamomum comprises of several hundreds of species, which are distributed in Asia and Australia. Cinnamomum zeylanicum, the source of cinnamon bark and leaf oils, is an indigenous tree of Sri Lanka, although most oil now comes from cultivated areas. C. zeylanicum is an important spice and aromatic crop having wide applications in flavoring, perfumery, beverages, and medicines. Volatile oils from different parts of cinnamon such as leaves, bark, fruits, root bark, flowers, and buds have been isolated by hydro distillation/steam distillation and supercritical fluid extraction. The chemical compositions of the volatile oils have been identified by GC and GC-MS. More than 80 compounds were identified from different parts of cinnamon. The leaf oil has a major component called eugenol. Cinnamaldehyde and camphor have been reported to be the major components of volatile oils from stem bark and root bark, respectively. Trans-cinnamyl acetate was found to be the major compound in fruits, flowers, and fruit stalks. These volatile oils were found to exhibit antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antidiabetic activities. C. zeylanicum bark and fruits were found to contain proanthocyandins with doubly linked bis-flavan-3-ol units in the molecule. The present review provides a coherent presentation of scattered literature on the chemistry, biogenesis, and biological activities of cinnamon.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acrolein / analogs & derivatives
  • Acrolein / chemistry
  • Acrolein / isolation & purification
  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Cinnamomum zeylanicum / chemistry*
  • Eugenol / chemistry
  • Eugenol / isolation & purification
  • Flavonoids / analysis
  • Flowers / chemistry
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / chemistry
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / isolation & purification
  • Plant Bark / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Oils
  • flavan-3-ol
  • Eugenol
  • Acrolein
  • cinnamaldehyde