In many cultures, cinnamon has been used in traditional medicine. For instance in Chinese traditional medicine, cinnamon is used to treat colds, gas, diarrhea, dismenorrhea and common colds. In the traditional Indian medicine ayurveda, cinnamon is also popularly used to treat a range of symptoms.
Today, western medicine is studying the effects of cinnamon on blood sugar levels, a useful application for people who suffer from type 2 diabetes. In 2003, a study was conducted wherein 60 people with type 2 diabetes were administered varying doses of cinnamon daily for 40 days. At the end of the testing period, the fasting glucose levels of the participants showed a marked improvement. Triglyceride levels, bad cholesterol levels and total cholesterol levels were also improved.
Aside from its work in diabetes, cinnamon is also being studied for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. It has been shown to be active against Candida albicans, which causes yeast infections as well as thrush. It has also been shown to be active against Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria which causes stomach ulcers.
It is important to note though that care should still be taken when taking cinnamon as a supplement. Diabetics are especially advised to seek the advice of their health care provider before taking cinnamon supplements since the combination of mainstream medication and cinnamon can cause blood sugar levels to go dangerously low. Cassia cinnamon also contains a compound called coumarin which in high levels can cause damage to the liver. It also has blood thinning properties so cinnamon supplements should be taken with blood clotting medications and it should not be taken by people who have bleeding disorders.
There are cinnamon extracts that come in the form of oil too. This is the most potent form of cinnamon and people should NOT take cinnamon oil orally. The primary use of cinnamon oil is mostly for room scent or as an additive to massage oil. Taking this oil orally can pose serious health risks.