What Is Cinnamaldehyde?

Learn more about this phytochemical, how you can get it, and what it can do for you.

You’ve probably heard of phytonutrients like beta-carotene, but have you ever heard of cinnamaldehyde? Don’t know what phytonutrients are? Read our article all about phytonutrients.

Cinnamaldehyde contributes to the flavor and odor of certain plants and plant foods, mainly cinnamon.[1] Cinnamaldehyde occurs naturally in the bark of cinnamon trees and other species of the genus Cinnamomum like camphor and cassia.[2] Many products use this compound as a preservative or for flavor such as cereal, chewing gum, and chocolate. It’s also used to disinfect tomatoes to prevent spoilage and prolong shelf life.[3] Cinnamaldehyde can be made synthetically but can also be made from the steam distillation of cinnamon bark oil.[4] As always, it is best to get the phytonutrient from the plant foods that contain it.

Nutrients—including vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals—can often be isolated or synthetic. These don’t even come close to natural nutrients in their whole food state; they are not the same. Read our helpful resource about how they are different and why natural nutrients, as opposed to isolated or synthetic, are safer and much more beneficial. We believe in the synergistic effect of all phytonutrients. “The science of nutrition is largely about the art of a relationship,” says Deanna Minich, scientist and nutritionist. “It’s not about one food, one nutrient, one calorie, but their relationship to each other.”[5] This applies to phytochemicals too!

As for its health benefits, cinnamaldehyde combats inflammation and fungi. It has also displayed antimicrobial, hypoglycemic, and hypolipidemic properties.[6]

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice that has many uses. In ancient times, it was used as perfume in anointing oils, beds, and embalming. It was also used for medicinal purposes and is still used in Chinese herbal medicine. Today, it is mostly used as an ingredient in cooking or baking.[7] 

According to Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, cinnamon is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, anticancer, lipid-lowering, and cardiovascular-disease-lowering compound. Cinnamon has also been reported to have activities against neurological disorders.[8] All this is mainly due to the phytonutrients it contains.[9] 

In addition, cinnamon can:

  • Prevent bleeding
  • Increase blood circulation
  • Repel insects
  • Treat dental and oral issues[10]
  • Prevent food spoilage

Cinnamon for treatment of diabetes is most promising. Cinnamon improves diabetes by lowering blood glucose and cholesterol levels.[11] [12] 

Antimicrobial Activities

Cinnamaldehyde fights against many bacteria. One study tested the effects of cinnamaldehyde on Helicobacter pylori strains. It was able to inhibit growth of all strains in vitro. It has been shown that when H. pylori dies, gastritis improves and the rate of relapse of ulcers decreases.[13] Cinnamaldehyde has also demonstrated bactericidal action against Listeria monocytogenes.[14]

Anti-inflammatory

Another in vitro study showed that cinnamaldehyde reduced reactive oxygen species, inhibited pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion from monocytes/macrophages, and showed potential of immunomodulation.[15] 

Reactive oxygen species are unstable molecules containing oxygen that react with other molecules within cells. They damage DNA, RNA, proteins, and cells. They are also called free radicals or oxygen radicals.[16] Cytokines are small proteins secreted by cells that affect cell communication. Some are pro-inflammatory, and some are anti-inflammatory. Certain inflammatory ones may contribute to nerve injury, central sensitization, and the development of contralateral hyperalgesia. Most of these are secreted by macrophages, others by monocytes and nonimmune cells (fibroblasts, endothelial cells, etc.)[17]

Inflammation can cause a person to feel ill or experience other symptoms like pain or loss of function. Pathogens, injuries, or chemicals could cause it. Inflammation may trigger an immune response, releasing inflammatory mediators. Some inflammations can cause chronic diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, etc.)[18]

The Last Bite

Cinnamaldehyde is responsible for the flavor and scent of cinnamon; for this reason, it is often used as a flooring ingredient in various food products. However, it is best to get this phytonutrient by eating the plant foods that contain it such as cinnamon. Cinnameldehyde can inhibit pathogens and combat inflammation. Cinnamon and other species of Cinnamomum contain the highest amounts of it and come with many health benefits. Cinnamon can be used in baking, drinks, etc. You can also get cinnamon by taking Balance of Nature’s Fiber & Spice supplement.


[1] Rajani Katta, “The Rosacea Diet: Foods to Avoid,” Skin and Diet, accessed August 19, 2020, https://www.skinanddiet.com/diet-and-rosacea.

[2] “Cinnamaldehyde,” PubChem (U.S. National Library of Medicine), accessed August 19, 2020, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Cinnamaldehyde.

[3] Smid, E.J., L. Hendriks, H.A.M. Boerrigter, and L.G.M. Gorris. “Surface Disinfection of Tomatoes Using the Natural Plant Compound Trans-Cinnamaldehyde.” ScienceDirect . (Postharvest Biology and Technology, January 5, 1998). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0925521496000336.

[4] Paul M Burnham, “CINNAMALDEHYDE,” Cinnamaldehyde - The Smell and Flavour of Cinnamon, 2006, http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/cinnamaldehyde/cinnh.htm.

[5] Deanna Minich, Instagram, August 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/CDxqhwBlmNi/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link.

[6] Huma Jafri, et al., “Cinnamaldehyde,” Cinnamaldehyde - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics, accessed August 19, 2020, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/cinnamaldehyde.

[7] Paul M Burnham, “CINNAMALDEHYDE,” Cinnamaldehyde - The Smell and Flavour of Cinnamon, 2006, http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/cinnamaldehyde/cinnh.htm.

[8] Pasupuleti Visweswara Rao and Siew Hua Gan, “Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant,” ed. Mohammad Amjad Kamal, Hindawi (Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, April 10, 2014), https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2014/642942/.

[9] Dimas Rahadian Aji Muhammad and Koen Dewettinck, “Cinnamon and Its Derivatives as Potential Ingredient in Functional Food-A Review,” Taylor & Francis Online (International Journal of Food Properties, 2017), https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2017.1369102.

[10] Nicole Didry, Luc Dubreuil, and Madeleine Pinkas, “Activity of Thymol, Carvacrol, Cinnamaldehyde and Eugenol on Oral Bacteria,” Science Direct (Pharmaceutica Acta Helvetiae/Elsevier, November 7, 2002), https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0031686594900272.

[11] Pasupuleti Visweswara Rao and Siew Hua Gan, “Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant,” ed. Mohammad Amjad Kamal, Hindawi (Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, April 10, 2014), https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2014/642942/.

[12] P. Subash Babu, S. Prabuseenivasan, and S. Ignacimuthu, “Cinnamaldehyde-A Potential Antidiabetic Agent,” Science Direct (Phytomedicine, January 10, 2007), https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944711306001772.

[13] Shaik Mahaboob Ali et al., “Antimicrobial Activities of Eugenol and Cinnamaldehyde against the Human Gastric Pathogen Helicobacter Pylori,” Springer Link (Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials, December 21, 2005), https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/1476-0711-4-20.

[14] Alexander O. Gill and Richard A. Holley, “Mechanisms of Bactericidal Action of Cinnamaldehyde against Listeria Monocytogenes and of Eugenol against L. Monocytogenes and Lactobacillus Sakei,” Applied and Environmental Microbiology (American Society for Microbiology, October 1, 2004), https://aem.asm.org/content/70/10/5750.short.

[15] Louis Kuoping Chao et al., “Cinnamaldehyde Inhibits pro-Inflammatory Cytokines Secretion from Monocytes/Macrophages through Suppression of Intracellular Signaling,” Science Direct (Food and Chemical Toxicology, January 1, 2008), https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0278691507002797.

[16] “Reactive Oxygen Species,” National Cancer Institute (the National Institutes of Health), accessed August 19, 2020, https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/reactive-oxygen-species.

[17] Jun-Ming Zhang and Jianxiong An, “Cytokines, Inflammation, and Pain,” U.S. National Library of Medicine (International Anesthesiology Clinics, November 30, 2009), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2785020/.

[18] “What Is an Inflammation?,” U.S. National Library of Medicine (InformedHealth.org [Internet]., February 22, 2018), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279298/.