Cinnamon has a long history of use as a medicine in both Eastern and Western cultures. Some of its reported uses are in cases of arthritis, asthma, cancer, diarrhea, fever, heart problems, insomnia, menstrual problems, peptic ulcers, psoriasis, and spastic muscles. There are scientific studies to support some of these uses. Some of the confirmed effects of cinnamon are as a sedative for smooth muscle, circulatory stimulant, carminative, digestant, anticonvulsant, diaphoretic, diuretic, antibiotic, and antiulcerative. One recent investigation of sixty people with type-2 diabetes demonstrated that 1 to 6 g of cinnamon taken daily for 40 days reduced fasting blood glucose by 18 to 29 percent, triglycerides by 23 to 30 percent, LDL (bad) cholesterol by 7 to 27 percent, and total cholesterol by 12 to 26 percent. In contrast, there were no clear changes for the subjects who did not take the cinnamon.
Cinnamon’s unique healing abilities come from three basic 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.
Cinnamon is often used in multi-component Chinese herbal formulas, some of which have been studied for clinical effects. For example, cinnamon combined with Chinese thorough wax (Bupleurum falcatum) and Chinese peony (Paeonia lactiflora) was shown to produce satisfactory results in the treatment of epilepsy. Out of 433 patients treated (most of who were unresponsive to anticonvulsant drugs), 115 were cured and another 79 improved greatly.
Improvements were noted not only by clinical symptoms, but also in brain wave patterns. Other clinical studies have shown cinnamon-containing formulae to be useful in cases of common cold, influenza, and frostbite. To what degree the improvements noted are actually due to cinnamon versus the other components is not really known.