(Cinnamon verum)

Cinnamon verum new leaves

Cinnamon verum leaves and flowers

Cinnamon verum leaves and peppercorns



Family: Lauraceae
Genus: Cinnamomum
Species: C. verum
Synonyms: Canella (Spanish), cannelle (French), Zimit (German), darchini (India/Iran), kayumanis
Common names: achiote, achiotec, achiotl, achote, annatto, urucu, beninoki, bija, eroya, jafara, kasujmba-kelling, kham thai, onoto, orleanstrauch, orucu-axiote, rocou, roucou, ruku, roucouyer, unane, uruku, urucum, urucu-va
Parts Used: Seeds, Leaves, Bark

Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • cures colds
  • treats diarrhea
  • Seed and Leaves
  • helps digestive problems
  • stops coughing
  • Leaf Decoction: 1/2 cup 2-3
  • antimicrobial
  • dries secretions/oils
  • times daily
  • kills parasites
  • cleanses blood
  • Essential oil: mg twice daily
  • kills germs
  • stimulates digestion
  • treatment for Type II diabetes
  • reduces phlegm

    The leaves are ovate-oblong in shape, 7-18 cm long. The flowers, which are arranged in panicles, have a greenish colour and a rather disagreeable odour. The fruit is a purple 1 cm berry containing a single seed.


    A 2003 study published in Diabetes Care showed that as little as one teaspoon of cinnamon per day can boost the body’s weight-loss ability by reducing blood sugar and promoting healthier processing of carbohydrates. It also lowers LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) by seven to 27% and total cholesterol by 12 to 26%. Plus, cinnamon has been shown to prevent the metabolic syndrome commonly seen in pre-diabetics. But before you go on piling the spice by spoonful, note that cinnamon contains a chemical called coumarin, which can lead to liver damage if consumed in very large amounts.


    The Egyptians used cinnamon and cassia along with myrrh in embalming, perhaps because cinnamic acid (and also myrrh) has antibacterial effects. The Hebrews, and others, used cinnamon and cassia in religious ceremonies, while in Mexico, Asiatic countries, Arabia and North Africa it was valued in cooking. The Roman empire imported huge amounts of cinnamon, and it may have been used mostly in perfumes and fragrances and to flavor wines, but it was not favored as a cooking spice. In the Middle Ages and subsequently, cinnamon, was imported from Egypt, having been brought there by Arabian traders who obtained it in Ceylon. It became a favorite flavor in many banquet foods and was regarded as an appetite stimulator, a digestive, an aphrodisiac, and a treatment for coughs and sore throats. Currently, in America cinnamon is mainly used to flavor desserts and condiment, while powder and quills (which may be cassia) are fashionable components of expensive drinks of coffee. True cinnamon is very popular in Mexican cooking and in coffee and tea.

    It is probable that Egyptian cinnamon in Pharaonic times was mainly cassia, much of which came from China where large groves of trees grew around the city of Kweilin (now called Guilin): kwei means cinnamon, and lin means forest. The true cinnamon of Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka) was discovered by the Portuguese in the early 16th century, who thenceforth controlled the trade with great cruelty. An increasing demand for cinnamon led to the Dutch fighting the Portuguese, and in the mid-17th century Ceylons cinnamon trade was taken over and controlled by Holland. In the 18th century, many Dutch were massacred in Sri Lanka in an effort to break the cruel rule of the new colonialists, but this led to reprisals and a subsequent growth in Portuguese control of the islands cinnamon plantations. The Dutch forcefully monopolized cinnamon; to keep up prices in 1760, they burnt huge amounts in Amsterdam to create a shortage. Perhaps this hostile act convinced cinnamon fanciers in other countries that the spice was being over-utilized in gourmet cooking.

    Nevertheless, in 1795, the English seized control of Ceylon hoping to revive interest in cinnamon. Before long, however, cinnamon saplings were transplanted by the Dutch for cultivation in Indonesia and by the French to plantations in Mauritius, Reunion and Guyana. The importance of cinnamon from Ceylon continued to gradually decline as this spice became less fashionable in cooking and in wine making. It is of interest that cinnamon now grows in Egypt, where in the 19th century, it was introduced by the French who planted saplings that had been grown in the Jardin des Plantes of Paris. However, after that time the importance of cinnamon in French cooking waned, whereas it still persists in traditional recipes of French Canada


    Chemical Composition.—The various species of cinnamon differ but little chemically, the chief constituent being their volatile oil (see Oleum Cinnamomi), which occurs to the amount of 1 per cent in cassia bark, but more sparingly (1/2 to 1 per cent) in that from the Ceylon variety. The latter, however, has by far the finer flavor. The principal constituent of cinnamon oil is cinnamic aldehyde (C6H8CH: CH CHO) together with cinnamyl-acetic ester and a little cinnamic acid. Holmes, in 1890, obtained from the oil distilled from the leaves eugenol, as chief constituent; a hydrocarbon resembling cymene in odor, little benzoic acid, and less cinnamic aldehyde. Cinnamon, according to the older analysis by Vauquelin, contains volatile oil, tannic acid (see investigation by T. R. Thornton, Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1895), coloring matter, resin, an acid (cinnamic), and ligneous fiber; starch has been found in it. S. Martin, in 1868, obtained cinnamomine, a body identified as mannite by Wittstein, in 1869. Ceylon cinnamon leaves upon incineration about 4 or 6 per cent of ash.


    —Stimulant, tonic, stomachic, carminative, and astringent; also reputed emmenagogue, and capable of diminishing the secretion of milk. The tincture of the bark is useful in uterine hemorrhage and menorrhagia, given in drachm doses in sweetened water, and repeated every 5, 10, or 20 minutes, or as may be required. A tincture of the oil (troy drachmj) in 98 per cent alcohol (troy ounceviii), is preferable, given in from 5 to 30-drop doses, repeated as often as necessary. For post-partum and other uterine hemorrhages, it is one of the most prompt and efficient remedies in the Materia Medica. To a limited extent it controls hemorrhage from other parts of the body, yet its most direct action is upon the uterine muscular fibres, causing contraction and arresting bleeding. Upon the nervous system cinnamon first stimulates and then depresses. Cinnamon is generally used to correct the effects or improve the flavor of other drugs, and is one of the best additions to cinchona bark for correcting the nausea or vomiting sometimes occasioned by that drug. Internally, it is very useful in diarrhoea, colic, cramp of the stomach, flatulency, and to allay nausea and vomiting. Dose of the powder, from 5 to 20 grains; of the tincture, from 10 to 60 drops; tincture of oil, 6 to 60 drops. Specific cinnamomum, 10 to 60 dropsOil of Cinnamon).

    Specific indications and Uses.—Post-partum and other uterine hemorrhage, with profuse flow, cold extremities, and pallid surface; haematuria; haemoptysis. Powdered cinnamon mixed into a paste with golden seal may be helpful against athlete's foot.