FWD 2 Expanded Commission E: Cinnamon bark

Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E

Cinnamon bark

Latin Name: Cinnamomum verum
Pharmacopeial Name: Cinnamomi ceylanici cortex
Other Names: Ceylon cinnamon, true cinnamon


Cinnamon is a small evergreen tree native to tropical southern India and Sri Lanka, growing from sea level to nine hundred meters. It was later introduced throughout the islands of the Indian Ocean and southeast Asia, and is now cultivated extensively in Sri Lanka and the coastal regions of India (Bruneton, 1995; HPUS, 1990; Karnick, 1994; Der Marderosian, 1999; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). It was not brought into cultivation until 1776 (Grieve, 1979). Sri Lanka is the main producing country, though the material of commerce also comes from India, Malaysia, Madagascar, and the Seychelles (BHP, 1996; Karnick, 1994; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994). Cinnamon bark has been used for several thousand years in traditional Eastern and Western medicines (Leung and Foster, 1996). Galenical preparations of cinnamon bark are used to treat anorexia, bloating, dyspepsia with nausea, flatulent colic, and spastic conditions of the gastrointestinal tract as a component of compounds used in traditional Greco-European medicines and traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine (Bruneton, 1995; Karnick, 1994; Newall et al., 1996; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).

The approved modern therapeutic applications for cinnamon are supportable based on a combination of factors including itslong history of traditional use in well established systems of traditional medicine, in vitro studies, experimental studies in animals,and phytochemical investigations.

In the United States and Germany cinnamon is used as a carminative and stomachic component of herbal compounds in dosage forms including aqueous infusion or decoction, alcoholic fluidextract or tincture, and essential oil. It also appears in both countries as a component of multi-herb cough, cold, and fever formulas.

Pharmacopeial grade cinnamon bark must contain not less than 1.2% volatile oil (Ph.Eur.3, 1997; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).


Cinnamon consists of the dried bark, separated from cork and the underlying parenchyma, of young branches and shoots of Cinnamomum verum J.S. Presl (syn. C. zeylanicum Blume) [Fam. Lauraceae], and its preparations in effective dosage. The bark contains essential oil.

Chemistry and Pharmacology

Cinnamon contains volatile oils (1-4%) of cinnamaldehyde (60-80%), eugenol (up to 10%) and trans-cinnamic acid (5-10%); phenolic compounds (4-10%), condensed tannins, catechins, and proanthocyanidins; monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes (pinene); calcium-monoterpenes oxalate; gum; mucilage; resin, starch, sugars, and traces of coumarin (Bruneton, 1995; Leung and Foster, 1996; List and Hörhammer, 1973; Hänsel et al., 1992; Newall et al., 1996; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).

The Commission E reported antibacterial and fungistatic properties in cinnamon as well as the promotion of intestinal motility. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia reported its action as bitter (BHP, 1996). Its essential oil has demonstrated strong antibacterial and antifungal activities in vitro (Bruneton, 1995). Antifungal, antiviral, bactericidal, and larvicidal actions have been reported for the volatile oil. Its constituents eugenol, eugenol acetate, and methyl eugenol have been reported to enhance trypsin activity in vitro. Cinnamon bark has also shown strong lipolytic (ability to hydrolyze fats) action (Leung and Foster, 1996).


The Commission E approved the internal use of cinnamon for loss of appetite, dyspeptic complaints such as mild, spastic condition of the gastrointestinal tract, bloating, and flatulence. The German Standard License for cinnamon bark tea infusion lists it for complaints such as a feeling of distension, flatulence, and mild cramp-like gastrointestinal disorders due to reduced production of gastric juice (Braun et al., 1997). In France, cinnamon bark is traditionally used to treat symptoms of digestive disorders, functional asthenias, and also to facilitate weight gain (Bruneton, 1995).


Allergy to cinnamon and Peruvian balsam.

Side Effects

Frequently, allergic reactions of skin and mucosa.

Use During Pregnancy and Lactation

Not recommended (McGuffin et al., 1997).

Interactions with Other Drugs

None known.

Dosage and Administration


Unless otherwise prescribed: 2-4 g per day of cut or ground bark.

Infusion or decoction: 0.7-1.3 g in 150 ml water, three times daily.

Fluidextract 1:1 (g/ml): 0.7-1.3 ml, three times daily.

Tincture 1:5 (g/ml): 3.3-6.7 ml, three times daily.

Essential oil: 0.05-0.2 ml.


Braun, R. et al. 1997. Standardzulassungen für FertigarzneimittelText and Kommentar. Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (BHP). 1996. Exeter, U.K.: British Herbal Medicine Association.

Bruneton, J. 1995. Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants. Paris: Lavoisier Publishing.

Der Marderosian, A. (ed.). 1999. The Review of Natural Products. St. Louis: Facts and Comparisons.

Europäisches Arzneibuch, 3rd ed. (Ph.Eur.3). 1997. Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag.

Grieve, M. 1979. A Modern Herbal. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

The Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS). 1992. Revision Service Official Compendium. Boston: Pharmacopoeia Convention of the American Institute of Homeopathy.

Karnick, C.R. 1994. Pharmacopoeial Standards of Herbal Plants, Vol. 1. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications. 94-95.

Leung, A.Y. and S. Foster. 1996. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

List, P.H. and L. Hörhammer (eds.). 1973. Hagers Handbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, 4th ed. Vol. 4. New York: Springer Verlag. 54, 884.

Hänsel, R., K. Keller, H. Rimpler, G. Schneider (eds.). 1992. Hagers Handbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, 5th ed. Vol. 4. Berlin-Heidelberg: Springer Verlag. 884.

McGuffin, M., C. Hobbs, R. Upton, A. Goldberg. 1997. American Herbal Product Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Newall, C.A., L.A. Anderson, J.D. Phillipson. 1996. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press.

Ph.Eur.3. See Europäisches Arzneibuch.

Wichtl, M. and N.G. Bisset (eds.). 1994. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers.

Additional Resources

Angmor, J.E., D.M. Dicks, W.C. Evans, D.K. Santra. 1972. Studies on Cinnamomum zeylanicum. Planta Med 21(4):416-420.

Angmor, J.E., P.M. Dewick, W.C. Evans. 1975. Proceedings: Chemical changes in cinnamon oil during its preparation. J Pharm Pharmacol 27(suppl. 2):89P.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (BHP).1983. Keighley, U.K.: British Herbal Medicine Association.

British Pharmaceutical Codex (BPC). 1949. London: The Pharmaceutical Press.

———. 1973. London: The Pharmaceutical Press.

Formácek, V. and K.H. Kubeczka. 1982. Essential oil analysis by capillary gas chromatography and carbon-13 NMR spectroscopy. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Deutsches Arzneibuch, 10th ed. Vol. 16. (DAB 10). 1991. Kommentar. Stuttgart: Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft.

Lima, E.O., O.F. Gompertz, A.M. Giesbrecht, M.Q. Paulo. 1993. In vitro antifungal activity of essential oils obtained from officinal plants against dermatophytes. Mycoses 36(910):333-336.

Masada, Y. 1976. Analysis of Essential Oils by Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry. New York: Halsted (Wiley).

Morozumi, S. 1978. Isolation, purification, and antibiotic activity of o-methoxycinnamaldehyde from cinnamon. Appl Environ Microbiol 36(4):577-583.

Quale, J.M., D. Landman, M.M. Zaman, S. Burney, S.S. Sathe. 1996. In vitro activity of Cinnamomum zeylanicum against azole resistant and sensitive Candida species and a pilot study of cinnamon for oral candidiasis. Am J Chin Med 24(2):103-109.

Raharivelomanana, P.J., G.P. Terrom, J.P. Bianchini, P. Coulanges. 1989. [Study of the antimicrobial action of various essential oils extracted from Malagasy plants. II: Lauraceae] [In French]. Arch Inst Pasteur Madagascar 56(1):261-271.

Reynolds, J.E.F. (ed.). 1993. Martindale: The Extra Pharmacopoeia, 30th ed. London: The Pharmaceutical Press.

Singh, H.B., M. Srivastava, A.B. Singh, A.K. Srivastava. 1995. Cinnamon bark oil, a potent fungitoxicant against fungi causing respiratory tract mycoses. Allergy 50(12):995-999.

Trease, G.E. and W.C. Evans. 1989. Trease and Evans' Pharmacognosy, 13th ed. London; Philadelphia: Baillire Tindall. 453.

This material was adapted from The Complete German Commission E MonographsTherapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. M. Blumenthal, W.R. Busse, A. Goldberg, J. Gruenwald, T. Hall, C.W. Riggins, R.S. Rister (eds.) S. Klein and R.S. Rister (trans.). 1998. Austin: American Botanical Council; Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications.

1) The Overview section is new information.

2) Description, Chemistry and Pharmacology, Uses, Contraindications, Side Effects, Interactions with Other Drugs, and Dosage sections have been drawn from the original work. Additional information has been added in some or all of these sections, as noted with references.

3) The dosage for equivalent preparations (tea infusion, fluidextract, and tincture) have been provided based on the following example:

  • Unless otherwise prescribed: 2 g per day of [powdered, crushed, cut or whole] [plant part]
  • Infusion: 2 g in 150 ml of water
  • Fluidextract 1:1 (g/ml): 2 ml
  • Tincture 1:5 (g/ml): 10 ml

4) The References and Additional Resources sections are new sections. Additional Resources are not cited in the monograph but are included for research purposes.

This monograph, published by the Commission E in 1994, was modified based on new scientific research. It contains more extensive pharmacological and therapeutic information taken directly from the Commission E.

Excerpt from Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs
Copyright 2000 American Botanical Council
Published by Integrative Medicine Communications
Available from the American Botanical Council.