Bioactivity of cinnamon with special emphasis on diabetes mellitus: a review

Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2012 May;63(3):380-6. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2011.627849. Epub 2011 Oct 19.


Cinnamon is the oldest spice and has been used by several cultural practices for centuries. In addition to its culinary uses, cinnamon possesses a rising popularity due to many stated health benefits. Out of the large number of cinnamon species available, Cinnamomum aromaticum (Cassia) and Cinnamomum zeylanicum have been subjected to extensive research. Available in vitro and in vivo evidence indicates that cinnamon may have multiple health benefits, mainly in relation to hypoglycaemic activity. Furthermore, the therapeutic potential of cinnamon is stated also to be brought about by its anti-microbial, anti-fungal, antiviral, antioxidant, anti-tumour, blood pressure-lowering, cholesterol and lipid-lowering and gastro-protective properties. This article provides a summary of the scientific literature available on both C. aromaticum and C. zeylanicum. All studies reported here have used cinnamon bark and its products. Although almost all the animal models have indicated a pronounced anti-diabetic activity of both cinnamon species, conflicting results were observed with regard to the few clinical trials available. Therefore, the necessity of evaluating the effects of cinnamon for its therapeutic potential through well-defined and adequately powered randomized controlled clinical trials is emphasized, before recommendations are made for the use of cinnamon as an effective treatment for humans.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cinnamomum zeylanicum*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Phytotherapy*