What is Cinnamon Bark?
Cinnamon Bark (rou gui, 肉桂), also known as Cassia Bark or Cortex Cinnamomi, is the dried bark of Cinnamomum cassia (L.) J. Presl, which carries many health benefits. Grown in countries all over the world, including Sri Lanka, Mexico, Indonesia, Vietnam and China, these trees are usually grown for a few years before being cut down. Afterwards, its inner bark is then dried, curled into quills or ground into powder for use in cooking, essential oils or pharmaceuticals. The twigs are also removed and dried to be used medicinally.
Used in ancient Egypt for embalming and added to food to prevent spoiling, the fragrant Cinnamon Bark yields golden oil that is often used in sacred oil and incense. The most sought-after spice during the 15th and 16th centuries, the source of Cinnamon was actually a mystery to the West throughout the Middle Ages. This is because the trade routes for Cinnamon have been carefully protected by traders to maintain their monopolies on the supplies for centuries.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Cinnamon Bark falls under the category of ‘Herbs that warm the Interior or expel Cold’. Such herbs are used for Internal Cold with Qi Deficiency or Yang Deficiency. Hot in nature, Cinnamon Bark can help individuals with too much Cold in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Excess or a Yang Excess, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance.
Pungent and sweet in taste, Cinnamon Bark can promote the circulations of qi and body fluids. Also, the herb can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, Cinnamon Bark targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Liver and the Spleen.
Functions and Benefits of Cinnamon Bark
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Cinnamon Bark has the following health benefits.
Cinnamon Bark can reinforce Fire, strengthen yang, warm yang and disperse Cold. The herb can treat syndromes of Yang Deficiency.
For example, Cinnamon Bark can treat Kidney Yang Deficiency manifested as the intolerance of cold, cold limbs, soreness in the loins and knees, nocturia, impotence and seminal emission. For gastric-abdominal pain caused by Cold, poor appetite and loose stools due to Deficiency of Kidney-Spleen yang, Cinnamon Bark can be combined with other Kidney-Spleen-warming herbs to enhance its effectiveness. As for palpitation and chest oppression, Cinnamon Bark can be combined with other yang-warming and qi-tonifying herbs to enhance its effectiveness.
Cinnamon Bark is also effective at dispelling Cold, warming meridians and alleviating pain. This herb is thus indicated for all kinds of pain syndromes caused by congealing Cold. For example, for arthralgia caused by Wind, Cold or Dampness, Cinnamon Bark can be combined with other Wind-Damp-dispelling and Liver-Kidney-tonifying herbs to enhance its effectiveness. For amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea caused by Deficiency-Cold of thoroughfare and conception vessels or Blood Stasis, Cinnamon Bark can be combined with other blood-activating, qi-moving, Cold-dispersing and pain-alleviating herbs to enhance its effectiveness. For deep-rooted carbuncles and deep abscesses due to congealing Cold and Yang Deficiency, Blood Stasis and phlegm accumulation, the herb is combined with meridians-warming and yang-unblocking, Cold-dispersing and Stasis-resolving herbs.
Cinnamon Bark has the actions of warming and unblocking blood vessels, activating blood and resolving Blood Stasis. Usually combined with blood-activating herbs for congealing Cold and Blood Stasis syndromes, Cinnamon Bark is often used to treat symptoms such as postpartum abdominal pain, lochiorrhea due to obstruction of stagnant blood, female abdominal masses due to qi stagnation and Blood Stasis, period cramps, irregular period, hernia with abdominal pain, trauma and joint pain.
Also, Cinnamon Bark can treat the upward floating of yang by directing the fire back to its source. For example, the herb can treat flushed face, wheezing, severe sweating, dry mouth, sore throat and lower back pain.
How to Use Cinnamon Bark
The recommended daily dosage of Cinnamon Bark is 1 – 5g, when consumed as a decoction. It is often steeped along other herbs and spices as herbal tea or other medicinal drinks. Other times, Cinnamon Bark is powdered and encapsulated to be taken as part of herbal formulas. Some healthcare practitioners may also suggest that you add it to your normal meals.
Cinnamon Bark and its supplements may be found in herbal stores and Asian specialty markets.
Cautions and Side Effects of Cinnamon Bark
Cinnamon Bark should not be used by individuals who are experiencing Yin Deficiency with Heat signs, internal excess Heat, cough with sore throat, Blood Deficiency with internal Dryness and pregnancy.
Do note that Cinnamon Bark should not be taken together with Halloysitum Rubrum (Chi Shi Zhi, 赤石脂).
We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Cinnamon Bark to your healthcare routine!
Here is a summary for Cinnamon Bark:
- Herb name (Chinese): 肉桂
- Herb name (Pin Yin): ròu guì
- Herb name (English): Cassia Bark
- Herb name (Botanical): Cortex Cinnamomi
- Origin of species: Cinnamomum cassia Presl
- Part(s) of herb used: Stem Bark
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Yunnan
- Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent, sweet; Hot; Administrates the Kidney, Spleen, Heart and Liver Meridians
- Actions: Commonly used in infertility prescriptions; Relieves back pain and menstrual disorders; Eases stomach discomforts
Kannappan, S., Jayaraman, T., Rajasekar, P., Ravichandran, M. K., & Anuradha, C. V. (2006). Cinnamon bark extract improves glucose metabolism and lipid profile in the fructose-fed rat. Singapore medical journal, 47(10), 858. [Accessed on 26th February 2023]
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