All About True Ceylon Cinnamon & Cassia | 7 Benefits & Risks

People have used cinnamon for centuries in traditional medicine to treat all sorts of diseases including heart conditions and high blood pressure.

The benefits listed here are backed by modern science and sources are found throughout the article and at the end.

For a long time, I believed that Ceylon Cinnamon is the same as ‘Regular’ cinnamon in every way except the country of origin.

I was very surprised to find out how different they are both in their appearance and in their medicinal properties.

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Cassia is sold as cinnamon throughout the world including in the United States

First of all, you need to know that a lot of Cassia is sold as cinnamon throughout the world including in the United States.

In the EU, “Ceylon Cinnamon” will be true cinnamon, however, both cassia and Ceylon cinnamon can be labelled as Cinnamon.

All the benefits listed below are for true cinnamon which is known as Ceylon Cinnamon.

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Sri lanka (formerly ceylon) is where almost all the world’s true cinnamon comes from

Cassia

Cassia looks similar and smells and tastes similar to cinnamon. Cassia is harder, rough and has a single roll. It’s also hollow and darker in appearance.

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Cassia is harder, rough and has a single roll

Cassia ‘Cinnamon’ is best for Christmas decorations

True Cinnamon is too delicate, expensive and too precious for decorations

Cassia contains approximately 1% coumarin which is toxic for the liver if you have it regularly. It’s perfectly fine in very tiny quantities.

Ceylon Cinnamon

Cinnamon stick 514243 1920
True cinnamon has many layers

Ceylon Cinnamon bark is softer, thinner, lighter and has many layers. It’s sweet if you try chewing it. It has only 0.004% of coumarin which you have to consume a rediculusly large amount to make it unhealthy. It is very expensive compared to cassia and packed with health benefits.

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Ceylon cinnamon bark is softer, thinner, lighter and has many layers

I was fortunate to visit several cinnamon manufacturers in Sri Lanka. I learnt how Ceylon Cinnamon was made in the traditional way. It’s packed by hand because it’s too delicate to be handled by machines.

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Visiting cinnamon manufacturer in sri lanka

Warning: Ceylon cinnamon is often confused with other types of “cinnamon“, including Cassia cinnamon, Chinese cinnamon, Indian cassia, or Saigon cinnamon.

These are not the same.

Here are some health benefits of true cinnamon

1. Cinnamon Is loaded with antioxidants

Antioxidants protect your body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

Cinnamon comes with a lot of powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols.

In a study that compared the antioxidant activity of a wide variety of spices, cinnamon was the clear winner.

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2.) Anti-inflammatory properties

Anti-Inflammatory activities of cinnamon have shown positive results in studies.

Acne and eczema

There is anecdotal evidence that cinnamon can reduce acne and eczema. While the conclusions seem logical given that cinnamon has anti-fungal, antibacterial and antioxidant properties, it hasn’t been specifically tested as a treatment for acne and eczema.

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3.) Cinnamon may reduce the risk of heart disease

Studies show that cinnamon has a positive effect on glucose and lipids in people with type 2 diabetes.

A meta-analysis indicates that a cinnamon dose of just 120 mg per day can reduce levels of total cholesterol, ‘bad‘ LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

A standard US teaspoon of cinnamon is 2.7g or 2700 mg – So a single teaspoon contains 22 days’ worth of cinnamon as used in the positive study above.

You only need a very little amount of cinnamon.

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4.) Cinnamon reduces blood sugar levels

Cinnamon reduces blood sugar levels through several methods.

Research shows that cinnamon increases insulin sensitivity through chromium and polyphenols.

Studies also indicate that hydroxychalcone in true Ceylon Cinnamon mimics the function of insulin to improve the absorption of glucose from cells.

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Woman baking buns with cinnamon 2022 09 01 23 36 42 utc

5.) Cinnamon may help fight Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are two of the most common types of neurodegenerative diseases and Ceylon Cinnamon may be beneficial in fighting both.

Alzheimer’s disease

For Alzheimer’s disease: Cinnamon consists of Cinnamaldehyde and Epicatechin which have the ability to prevent the collection of Tau protein which is one of the causes of Alzheimer’s.

Parkinson’s disease

For Parkinson’s disease: cinnamon help protects neurons, and normalises neurotransmitter levels.


Study 1, Study 2, Study 3, Study 4 and a lot more are at the bottom of the article.

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6.) Cinnamon may protect against cancer

In limited studies cinnamon extracts have shown positive results by reducing the growth of cancer cells and the formation of blood vessels in tumours and appear to be toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death. (leukemia, tumour cell, downstream signalling).

More cancer-related studies have been linked at the bottom of the article. However, we must take note of the fact that no human trials have been done specifically using cinnamon for the treatment of cancer.

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7.) Lowers blood pressure

Studies show that 500–2,400 mg of cinnamon daily over 12 weeks had a reduction of 5.39 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 2.6 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure.

Swp true cinnamon

Your questions

What is Ceylon cinnamon good for?

Ceylon cinnamon is full of antioxidants, that lower your risk of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Ceylon cinnamon is also rich in manganese, a mineral that helps your body manage the enzymes that produce hormones.

How much Ceylon cinnamon is safe daily?

1 teaspoon appears to be safe. There is also really no reason to consume more cinnamon daily.

What kind of cinnamon is healthiest?

Ceylon cinnamon contains all of the health-promoting properties of cinnamon. Cassia, which is sold as just ‘cinnamon’ contains toxins which can be harmful in large amounts.

What are the side effects of cinnamon?

Allergic reactions. Cinnamon can lower your blood sugar and this could be dangerous when combined with other medications.

Which is better Ceylon cinnamon or regular cinnamon?

Both are fine in small quantities. But if you are taking a large amount (say for health reasons) then cassia (sold as ‘cinnamon’ in most countries) will be toxic.

How much cinnamon should I take for high blood pressure?

Studies show that 500–2,400 mg of cinnamon daily over 12 weeks had a reduction of 5.39 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 2.6 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure. At these doses, you need to make sure you are taking Ceylon cinnamon and not cassia which is sold as ‘cinnamon’. Consult a professional health care provider before using any treatment.

Risks of cinnamon

Inhaling

Inhaling while adding or trying ‘silly TikTok cinnamon challenges’ could lead to lung problems.

Cinnamon allergy

It’s very rare but cinnamon can trigger allergies such as irritation in the gums and also gastrointestinal issues.

Drug interaction

Cinnamon can lower blood sugar and can affect blood clotting. People who are on diabetic medication, insulin or anticoagulants should be careful. Consult a professional health care provider before using any treatment.

Toxins in cassia can damage your liver

While small amounts appear to be fine for most people. Cassia contains relatively high levels of Coumarin. The BBC notes that this can be toxic for the liver. Coumarin in Ceylon cinnamon is a lot less. In fact, you’d need 60 times more Ceylon cinnamon for the same adverse levels of Coumarin. Other published studies indicate the same.

If you like the taste of cinnamon and like to have it often, please make sure that you are buying true cinnamon and not the toxic cassia which is a lot cheaper.

Where to buy True Cinnamon?

Unfortunately, cassia is often sold as Cinnamon. I’ve seen items listed as ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’ but have a photo of Cassia on the label which makes me wonder if they are authentic. The country of origin has to be Sri Lanka for Ceylon cinnamon.

You can order this via iHerb and have it delivered. I’ve not tried it myself as I can buy Ceylon cinnamon locally. But I have every reason to believe that this is authentic. You can also get it via Amazon UK

Frontier co op organic ceylon cinnamon 1. 76 oz 1
 Organic Ceylon Cinnamon

Here is another by Simply Organic. I’ve not bought this particular item either, but I’ve bought other items by Simply Organic via iHerb and trust the brand.

Final thoughts

True cinnamon is packed with lots of health benefits without the toxins found in Cassia (‘regular’) cinnamon.

I add a sprinkle of Ceylon Cinnamon to my oat milk latte every day. Perhaps you can do the same.

Make sure the cinnamon you buy is true ceylon cinnamon

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Sources & resources

Cinnamon – National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cinnamon

Cinnamon: Mystic powers of a minute ingredient – National Library of Medicine

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4466762/

Cinnamon for Diabetes – Nutrition Facts.org

https://nutritionfacts.org/2013/10/29/cinnamon-for-diabetes/

Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents – National Library of Medicine

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16190627/

Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes – National Library of Medicine

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14633804/

Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant – National Library of Medicine

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4003790/

Cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis – National Library of Medicine

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24019277/

Anti-hypertensive effects of cinnamon supplementation in adults: A systematic review and dose-response Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials – National Library of Medicine

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31617744/

Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Cinnamomum cassia Constituents In Vitro and In Vivo – National Library of Medicine

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22536283/

Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant – National Library of Medicine

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4003790/

Anti-inflammatory activity of cinnamon (C. zeylanicum and C. cassia) extracts – identification of E-cinnamaldehyde and o-methoxy cinnamaldehyde as the most potent bioactive compounds – National Library of Medicine

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25629927/

Antioxidant activity of cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, Breyne) extracts – National Library of Medicine

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10077878/

A hydroxychalcone derived from cinnamon functions as a mimetic for insulin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes – National Library of Medicine

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11506060/

Anti-oxidant effects of cinnamon – National Library of Medicine

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10641152/

Effect of short-term administration of cinnamon on blood pressure in patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23867208/

Cinnamaldehyde induces apoptosis by ROS-mediated mitochondrial permeability transition in human promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells – National Library of Medicine

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12860272/

Water-soluble polymeric polyphenols from cinnamon inhibit proliferation and alter cell cycle distribution patterns of hematologic tumor cell lines – National Library of Medicine

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16253769/

Novel angiogenesis inhibitory activity in cinnamon extract blocks VEGFR2 kinase and downstream signaling – National Library of Medicine

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3105590/

Cinnamon treatment upregulates neuroprotective proteins Parkin and DJ-1 and protects dopaminergic neurons in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24946862/

Interaction of cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin with tau: implications of beneficial effects in modulating Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23531502/

Cinnamon extract inhibits tau aggregation associated with Alzheimer’s disease in vitro

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19433898/

Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) – EU

https://www.cbi.eu/market-information/spices-herbs/cinnamon

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About the Author

<a href="https://strongwithplants.com/author/inga/" target="_self">Inga K</a>

Inga K

Inga became vegan in March 2018. After a series of documentaries that hit hard, she and her husband switched to a plant-based diet within a week and vegan soon after. Inga has a UK Level 5 Advanced Diploma in Diet and Nutrition.

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Strongwithplants.com is a blog for anyone who strives for a healthy and happy life. We share 100% plant-based (and often healthy and oil-free) recipes and give you the best tips on finding vegan local food whilst travelling and living a plant-based lifestyle focusing on good health and spiritual wellbeing.

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