• The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World

Ceylon Cinnamon ( Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blume )
Names in Other Languages:

English Sri Lanka cinnamon
French Cannelle type Ceylan, Cannelle
German Zimt, Echter Zimt, Ceylon-Zimt
Spanish Canela
Italian Cannella
Turkish Seylan tarçını, Tarçın ağacı
Japanese 肉桂 Nikkei, シナモン Shinamon

FAMILY: Lauraceae

ORIGIN:   Sri Lanka, Western India especially Malabar Coast, Madagascar and South America


Cinnamon is the brown bark of the cinnamon tree, which when dried, rolls into a tubular form known as a quill. Cinnamon can be found as cinnamon sticks and it can be ground powder.

Ceylon cinnamon is also referred to as "true cinnamon", while the Chinese variety is known as "cassia". While both are relatively similar in characteristics.

Cinnamon comes in ‘quills’, strips of bark rolled one in another. The pale brown to tan bar strips are generally thin, the spongy outer bark having been scraped off. The best varieties are pale and parchment-like in appearance.


Stem bark.


Strongly aromatic, sweet, pleasant, carminative, stimulant, warm and but hardly bitter or astringent.


The essential oil of cinnamon bark (max. 4%) is dominated by the two phenylpropanoids cinnamaldehyde (3-phenyl-acrolein, 65 to 75%) and eugenol (4-(1-propene-3-yl)-2-methoxy-phenol, 5 to 10%). Other phenylpropanoids (safrole, coumarin [max. 0.6%] cinnamic acid esters), mono- and sesquiterpenes, although occurring only in traces, do significantly influence the taste of cinnamon. Another trace component relevant for the quality is 2-heptanone (methyl-n-amyl-ketone). The slime content of the bark is rather low (3%).

From cinnamon leaves, another essential oil (1%) can be obtained that consists mainly of eugenol (70 to 95%) and can be used as a substitute for clove. Small amounts (1 to 5%) of cinnamaldehyde, benzyl benzoate, linalool and β-caryophyllene have also been found.

A completely different composition is found in the essential oil of cinnamon root bark; here, camphor (60%) dominates. This oil is not used commercially. Last, in cinnamon fruits (cassia buds, cinnamon buds), the main components were found to be trans-cinnamyl acetate and β-caryophyllene.



Cinnamon is commonly used in dessert dishes such as cakes and other baked goods; milk and rice puddings, chocolate dishes and fruit desserts, particularly apples and pears. Cinnamon is used by Romans to make their strong, bitter wine palatable, by Greeks to season meat and vegetable dishes, by Arabs in tea. Ceylon cinnamon is used to flavor breads and puddings.

Cinnamon oil (mainly cinnamaldehyde C9H8O, the flavoring substance of this spice) is used to aromatize liqueurs and cosmetics.

Cinnamon's unique healing abilities come from three basic types of components in the essential oils found in its bark. These oils contain active components called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol, plus a wide range of other volatile substances.

Anti-Clotting Actions

Cinnamaldehyde which is also called cinnamic aldehyde has been researched for its effects on blood platelets. Platelets are constituents of blood that are meant to clump together under emergency circumstances such as physical injury to stop bleeding, but under normal circumstances, they can make blood flow inadequate if they clump together too much. The cinnaldehyde in cinnamon helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood platelets. (The way it accomplishes this health-protective act is by inhibiting the release of an inflammatory fatty acid called arachidonic acid from platelet membranes and reducing the formation of an inflammatory messaging molecule called thromboxane A2.) Cinnamon's ability to lower the release of arachidonic acid from cell membranes also puts it in the category of an "anti-inflammatory" food that can be helpful in lessening inflammation.

Anti-Microbial Activity

Cinnamon's essential oils also qualify it as an "anti-microbial" food, and cinnamon has been studied for its ability to help stop the growth of bacteria as well as fungi, including the commonly problematic yeast Candida. In laboratory tests, growth of yeasts that were resistant to the commonly used anti-fungal medication fluconazole was often stopped by cinnamon extracts.

Blood Sugar Control

Cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, and reduces the rice in blood sugar after eating. Cinnamon may also significantly help people with type 2
diabetes improve their ability to respond to insulin, thus normalizing their blood sugar levels. Both test tube and animal studies have shown that compounds in cinnamon not only stimulate insulin receptors, but also inhibit an enzyme that inactivates them, thus significantly increasing cells' ability to use glucose.

Cinnamon is so powerful an antioxidant that, when compared to six other antioxidant spices (anise, ginger, licorice, mint, nutmeg and vanilla) and the chemical food preservatives (BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), and propyl gallate), cinnamon prevented oxidation more effectively than all the other spices (except mint) and the chemical antioxidants. Intake of 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon per day reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes and the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes would reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. [1]

Cinnamon's Scent Boosts Brain Function

Smelling the odor of this cinnamon boosts brain activity. Specifically, cinnamon can help to improve virtual recognition memory, working memory and visual-motor speed while working on a computer based program [2]

Calcium and Fiber Improve Colon Health and Protect Against Heart Disease

Cinnamon is a very good source of the trace mineral manganese, dietary fiber, iron and calcium. The combination of calcium and fiber in cinnamon is important and can be helpful for the prevention of several different conditions. Both calcium and fiber can bind to bile salts and help remove them from the body. By removing bile, fiber helps to prevent the damage that certain bile salts can cause to colon cells, thereby reducing the risk of colon cancer. In addition, when bile is removed by fiber, the body must break down cholesterol in order to make new bile. This process can help to lower high cholesterol levels, which can be helpful in preventing atherosclerosis and heart disease. For sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome, the fiber in cinnamon may also provide relief from constipation or diarrhea. [2]

A Traditional Warming Remedy

Cinnamon has also been valued in energy-based medical systems, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, for its warming qualities. In these traditions, cinnamon has been used to provide relief when faced with the onset of a cold or flu, especially when mixed in a tea with some fresh ginger.

[1] Alam Khan, MS, PHD1,2,3, Mahpara Safdar, MS1,2, Mohammad Muzaffar Ali Khan, MS, PHD1,2, Khan Nawaz Khattak, MS1,2 and Richard A. Anderson, PHD3 Cinnamon and Type-2 Diabetes (diabetesjournals.org)

[2] http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?pfriendly=1&tname=foodspice&dbid=68