Traditional uses and Phytochemistry of Cinnamomum Species – A Mini Review


Kavita Munjal1*, Vinod Gauttam2, Sumeet Gupta1, Apeksha Gupta3,

Lubna Abidin3, Vikas Jhawat4, Aayeena Altaf5

1Department of Pharmacognosy and Pharmacology, M.M. College of Pharmacy,

M.M. (Deemed to be University), Mullana, Ambala, Haryana, India.

2IES Institute of Pharmacy, Bhopal, India.

3Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research,

Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi, India.

4Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, G. D. Goenka University, Gurugram, Haryana, India.

5Department of Food Technology, School of Interdisciplinary Sciences, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi, India.

*Corresponding Author E-mail:



The genus Cinnamomum, the evergreen tree of tropical and subtropical Asia, Australia, the pacific region and South America, a member of family Lauraceae, has been used in day to day routine as a spice and condiment in India. This genus has many applications in perfumery, flavouring and pharmaceutical industries. Volatile oils from different parts of cinnamon such as leaves, fruits, root bark, flowers and buds have been isolated by several techniques and identification of these constituents have been done by GC and GC-MS. The present review describes the traditional and ethanobotanical uses and various chemical constituents, of various Indian species of Cinnamomum genus. This review will help those people who are interested in doing research work on this plant in future, which has got tremendous potential medicinally.


KEYWORDS: Cinnamomum, Spice, Phytochemistry, Nutrition, Genus.




The genus Cinnamomum has evergreen shrubs and trees, distributed in tropical and subtropical Asia, Australia, the pacific region and South America. It has 250 species out of which 26 are found in India1. The genus is classified in the botanical division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, and order Magnoliales and Family Lauraceae. The term Cinnamomum was derived from the Greek root Kinnamon or Kinnamomon, meaning sweet wood. Amongst various species mentioned, the most important is the C. zeylanicum (CZ). It is known as cannelle in French; rougui in Chinese; canela in Spanish, dalchini in India; zimt in German and Kurunda in Sinhalese. It has been used as a spice for thousands of years and its use has been mentioned even in the Bible.



Egyptians have used this in embalming fluid. During the 18th century, the East India Company became the main exporter of CZ to Europe2.


In Ayurvedic medicine, this has been used as an antiemetic, antidiarrhoel, antiflatulent and as general stimulant, stomachic and carminative for gastrointestinal complaints and other ailments. It is one of the most popular spices and is the second most important spice (next to black pepper) sold in United States and European markets. It is a native of Sri Lanka and Tropical Asia, occurring up to altitudes of 500 m & is often known as ‘sensational cinnamon’ and ‘spice of life’ because of the emotional attachment of Sri Lankan people with cinnamon3. The most important cinnamon oils in world trade are those from CZ, C. cassia and C. camphora. The oil of C. Cassia and CZ are one of the important flavouring agents and are used widely in all kinds of food products and beverages, such as meat, table sauce, cakes, baked goods, confectionery, perfumery, desserts, candies, chewing gums, pickles, soft drinks, etc. However, it is recommended that the oil should be limited to 1 per cent of the total product formula because of its skin-sensitizing property4.



2.1 Cinnamomum zeylanicum (CZ):

According to Ayurveda, CZ bark is bitter, pungent. Leaves have a spicy odour, when brushed and have a hot taste. Leaves are opposite, ovate, lanceolate, subacute, glabrous and shining above, slightly paler beneath, base acute or rounded and numerous flowers with long peduncles, often clustered. Fruits are long, oblong, minutely apiculate, dry or slightly fleshy and dark purple in colour5.


2.2       Cinnamomum tamala:

Cinnamomum tamala leaves commonly known as bay leaves or tejpata, are mainly used. Leaves are lanceolate, glaborous; alternately placed, opposite, and short stalked with a clove like taste. It flowers during March to May; the fruits are ellipsoidal drupe and require a year to attain maturity.  Hence, the flowers and fruits can be seen at the same time during April-May. Ripe fruits are dark purple in colour and contain single seed5.


2.3 Cinnamomum cassia:

Its bark is grey, smooth and thick and leaves are oblong-elliptic, dark shiny green, 15 cm x 7.5 cm, with 3 prominent nerves from the base. Flowers are small, spreading, terminal and axillary panicles. Fruits are black in colour, pulpy and elliptic drupes with a single seed borne in the cup of calyx lobe5.


2.4       Cinnamomum camphora:

Leaves are glabrous, ovate-elliptic to elliptic to sub-ovate-elliptic, many flowered; and fruits are one-seeded berries, globose and slightly fleshy5.


2.5       Cinnamomum bejolghota:

Its bark is pale brown and leaves are opposite, large 20-30 cm long and elliptic-oblong. Flowers are pale yellow and pubescent in large panicles. Fruits are sub-globose and seated on slightly enlarged perianth5.


2.6 Cinnamomum glaucescens:

Its leaves are elliptic, flowers are bisexual or unisexual and fruits are 3 cm long with fragrant flesh5.


2.7 Cinnamomum glanuliferum:

Mainly leaves of C. glanduliferum are used. Leaves are elliptic, ovate or lanceolate, acuminate, flowers are axillary with few-flowered panicles and fruits are obovoid, about 2.5 cm long, seated on fleshy perianth tube5.



Various species of Cinnamomum genus have been used traditionally for therapeutic purposes. CZ bark has been used since ages, as tonic, stomachic, carminative, appetizer, nervine tonic, nervous depressant, in neuralgia, hysteria, gastric irritation, paralysis of tongue, malarial fever, in cancer of stomach, rectum and uterus, for washing ulcerated wounds as haemostatic, antispasmodic, antiseptic, germicidal agent6, 7. CZ bark is used in form of infusion, decoction, powder or oil in bowel complaints such as dyspepsia, flatulence, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting8. The dried buds of C. malabatrum and stem bark of CZ are used with various combinations in diarrhoea, dysentery and cough. Leaves and bark of C. malabatrum are also used in toothache, to cure dental caries and pyorrhea. The bark of C. malabatrum, as a stimulant of the muscular fibre is employed in menorrhagia and in tedious labour due to defective uterine contractions, as tonic, stomachic, carminative, purgative, haemostatic, antispasmodic, antiseptic, and germicidal agent9. Various parts of C. tamala are used in different pharmaceutical/Ayurvedic preparations (Sudarshan churna and Chandar prabha vati) because of their hypoglycaemic, stimulant and carminative properties10.


The bark of C. camphora is considered as antispasmodic, antiseptic and antimicrobial. The leaves of C. camphora are used in form of infusion, decoction, powder or oil in bowel complaints such as dyspepsia, flatulence, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and as antiphlegmatic and antileprotic. Its constituents have been reported as antibacterial11, 12, 13. Leaves and young fruits of C. camphora are used in severe muscular sprains, rheumatic pain and inflammations14. Leaves of C. parthenoxylon have been used as tonic, stomachic, carminative, purgative and mineral astringents15.


Roots and leaves of C. glaucescens, are used to liquefy bronchial secretion and to relieve distress cough in bronchitis, and broncho-pneumonia and also in asthma. Juice and decoction of fresh young leaves and stem bark of C. glanduliferum are used to liquefy bronchial secretion and to relieve distress cough in bronchitis, broncho-pneumonia and also used in asthma. Paste of the fruit of C. glanduliferum is used for severe muscular sprains, rheumatic pain and inflammations16. Traditional uses and reported activities have been listed in Fig. 1.


Figure 1: Traditional uses and reported pharmacological activities from different species of Cinnamomum genus




Varoius terpenoidal compounds viz., monoterpenoides, diterpenoides and sesquiterpenoids, flavonoids and their glycosides, polyphenolic compounds, sterols and carbohydrates have been reported from several species of cinnamomum genus. Structures of important phytochemicals from different species of Cinnamomum genus are given in Fig. 2. Literature review reveals terpenoids (monoterpenoides and sesquiterpenoides) to be the major constituent of this genus.


4.1 Terpenoidal constituents:

The main components of the bark of CZ are trans-cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, and linalool which represent 82.5% of the total composition in the leaf oil. Transcinnamaldehyde, the major component of CZ bark oil, accounts for approximately 49.9 % to 62.8 % of the total amount17. The dried stem bark of C. cassia contains four components - cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid, cinnamyl alcohol and coumarin. High contents of cinnamaldehyde (13.01-56.93 mg/g) have been reported in C. cassia18.

4.2 Flavonoidal and other phenolic constituents:

Rutin and quercitrin have also been reported from the fruits of CZ. Anthocyanins glycosides such as cyanidine glucoside, cyaniding xyloside and cyanide galactoside have also been reported from CZ. Various phenolic constituents such as ferulic, caffeic, p-coumaric, gentisic, salicyclic, p-hydroxybenzoic, vanillic, syringic and protocatechuic acids have also been reported from the bark, twigs, leaves and fruits of CZ such as procatechuic acid, cinnamtannin B-1 and urolignoside along with varoius phenolic acids19. From the leaves of C. tamala, flavanoids such as quercetin, kaempferol and their glycosides such as kaempferol-3-O-glucopyranoside, kaempferol-3-O-sophoroside, quercetin-3-O-rutinoside and kaempferol-3-O-rhamnoside have been reported20.


4.3 Miscellaneous constituents:

Besides terpenoides, flavanoids and tannins, carbohydrates, fatty acids and sterols have also been reported in this genus21.


Figure 1: Structures of important flavonoidal and phenolic acids compounds reported from Cinnamomum genus


In this review, we have compiled available literature on Cinnamomum genus taking into account their important species, their botanical description, traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacological properties. Traditionally, this genus and its various species are used as anti-diabetic and immunomodulatory. These reports are preliminary. From the available literature, it is evident that the major constituents of this genus are terpenoids, phenolic and flavonoidal compounds which play main role in pharmacological activities. It has very good nutritional value along with medicinal properties and that’s why it is used in food as spice since ages. Further, evaluation of toxic effects of any drug is of prime importance; however, a few toxic reports have been reported if plant has not been consumed in appropriate dose. Therefore, in future, detailed and extensive studies are certainly required to improve the knowledge about the chemical constituents and efficacy of this genus.



The authors are thankful to Maharishi Markandeshwar college of Pharmacy (MMCP), Ambala for its kind support in completing this review article.



The authors declare no conflict of interest.



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Received on 26.08.2021             Modified on 10.10.2021

Accepted on 16.11.2021           © RJPT All right reserved

Research J. Pharm. and Tech 2022; 15(11):5363-5367.

DOI: 10.52711/0974-360X.2022.00904