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Ceylon cinnamon tree. A flowering branch; 1 flower; 2 the same in longitudinal section; 3 sterile stamen from different sides; 4, 5 fertile stamen; 6 pollen; 7 stamps; 8, 9, 10 fruit and seed
Photo of three cinnamon sticks with a pile of ground cinnamon in front of them
Cinnamon stick from the Ceylon cinnamon tree (left) and Indonesian cinnamon (right)

The cinnamon , outdated also Zimmet , Camellia cinnamon ( Canehl ), is a spice from the dried bark of Ceylon cinnamon tree , and various other cinnamon trees of the genus Cinnamomum .


The name cinnamon (also Zinnamon , older and cinnamon - see also at Cinnamomum verum ) is derived from the Middle High German zinemīn (also Zimet , Zimmat and zinmënt ) and the Old High German cinmënt over sinamīn of medieval Latin cinnamomum from; this comes from the Latin cinnamum , ancient Greek κιννάμωμον ( kinnámōmon ), which can be derived from Semitic .

Some European languages ​​derive their names for cinnamon from the Latin canna ("pipe"), more precisely from the diminutive of this word, cannella ("tube, tube"), which alludes to the shape of the cinnamon sticks; z. B. French canelle , Italian cannella , Spanish canela , Portuguese canela . Also in Middle High German there is the word kanêl for cinnamon stick, cinnamon tube . In Dutch , the word kaneel still denotes cinnamon, which is also the Estonian name for this spice - a loan word that was taken from the Low German of the Hanseatic merchants. The Latin cannella is a diminutive of canna, borrowed from the Greek κάννα kanna for reed (cane).


Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices. Allegedly he was already before 2000 BC. Used as such in China and India . The Egyptians used it for embalming , as a spice and as an incense . It was also used in ancient Greece , this is used by Herodotus and Hippocrates and others. a. mentioned. It was already widely traded in the Roman Empire ; it was first used as medicine, aphrodisiac and incense, and only later as a spice. Legend has it that the Roman Emperor Nero lit large cinnamon fires in the streets of Rome in her honor after the death of his wife Poppäa . Trade was dominated by the Arabs after the fall of the Roman Empire . In the Middle Ages, cinnamon was used in Europe as a remedy for gout and the like. a. known and has also been used as a spice. Venice dominated the cinnamon trade in Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries. This was followed by the Portuguese, who colonized Ceylon in 1505 to secure and promote the Indian trade ; this led to war with the Dutch in the 17th century in the struggle for control of the East Indian territories. (See also: Dutch-Portuguese War .)

In Europe from the 16th to 18th centuries, cinnamon was considered one of the particularly expensive and precious spices. For example, the Augsburg merchant Anton Fugger burned the promissory notes of Charles V in front of his eyes in a fire made of cinnamon sticks in 1530 , thus demonstrating his wealth. The Dutch were followed by the English (see also: Anglo-Dutch naval wars ), after the British took over the trade monopoly in the 18th century, London became the main hub for cinnamon.


The source was originally the real or Ceylon cinnamon tree ( Cinnamomum verum J. Presl , formerly also Cinnamomum zeylanicum ) from Sri Lanka , Burma and Bangladesh ; later - and today predominantly in terms of quantity - also the cinnamon cassia ( Cinnamomum cassia ) ( cassia cinnamon) from Seres ( China ) and also the cheap Indonesian cinnamon ( Cinnamomum burmannii ) as well as the Vietnamese cinnamon ( Cinnamomum loureiroi ), which is highly valued in Japan and China . These three varieties are also generally referred to as "cassia cinnamon", although this is actually not correct.

The Indian bay leaf ( Cinnamomum tamala or mother cinnamon ) is also rarely added. There are also Cinnamomum bejolghota , Cinnamomum culilawan and Cinnamomum philipinense used. Also feral varieties of Cinnamomum verum from the Seychelles .

The "Kassia cinnamon varieties" and other low-quality cinnamon are also known as wood cinnamon .

The cinnamon bark is peeled off the branches, Sri Lanka

Cinnamon comes ground as a typical brown powder, whole as a cinnamon stick ( rolled up, tubular piece of bark) or as cinnamon blossoms. Cinnamon stick is also called Kaneel .

Small branches and leaves are used to extract cinnamon oil .

The aroma of the cinnamon tree is due to the cinnamon oil it contains , which consists of up to 75 percent cinnamaldehyde (in the list of aromatic substances: Fl-Number 05.014). Other important aromatic substances are eugenol (also found in cloves ) in Ceylon cinnamon (Fl number 04.003) and in cassia cinnamon, and especially in Vietnamese and Indonesian cinnamon, the woodruff- scented coumarin .


There are a number of types that have a cinnamon-like taste. They were used as a substitute or for adulteration.

The species Canella winterana ; White or Magellanic Cinnamon and Drimys winteri ; Winter bark (winter cinnamon) and cinnamodendron corticosum ; False winter (s) bark, as well as Dicypellium caryophyllaceum ( clove cinnamon ) and Cryptocarya massoy (massoir bark) There is also the Ecuador or American cinnamon from Ocotea quixos and the Amazon cinnamon from Aniba canelilla .

Then there are many types that are called "cinnamon", mostly it refers to the color, but not to the taste e.g. B. cinnamon , cinnamon rose , cinnamon apple etc.

Cinnamon is used in many areas:

As a spice

Cinnamon sticks and powder and dried cinnamon blossoms

Cinnamon is often used to flavor hot drinks (tea) and spirits, in Indian and Near Eastern cuisine also for meat dishes. To use a part of the bark (Latin Cinnamomi Cortex ) of Ceylon cinnamon tree, namely the thin bast extending tubularly for cinnamon sticks (or for cinnamon or Zimtröhre bundling) as soon as it is separated from the wood. Six to ten pieces of the finest inner bark are pushed into one another and left to dry. The thinner the rind, the finer the aroma the stick gives off. These cinnamon rolls can be used for a long time because they are slow to lose their aroma.

In order to determine the quality, Ceylon cinnamon has its own value measure (unit: Ekelle). The best cinnamon is rated with the numbers (Ekellen) 00000, then the quality drops to Ekelle 0, then on via I to Ekelle V. The producer price depends largely on the condition of the rolls. The spice cinnamon imported to Europe is referred to in many places as “Hamburg” quality and is considered the worst available quality of the rolls, but does not differ in taste from the other quality levels as soon as it is ground. For the European market, cinnamon is almost always ground. In Central Europe it is mainly used in conjunction with sugar, for desserts , pastries and mulled wine , especially during the Christmas season, less often for savory or spicy dishes or meat dishes. For chewing gum with a cinnamon flavor, the flavor is created artificially.

In Asia, too, cinnamon powder is used to make spice mixtures. Cinnamon oil , which is used to flavor liqueurs and as a fragrance in the perfume industry , is also obtained from manufacturing waste and chips . Regionally, the leaves are used similar to bay leaves .

The spice trade mainly distinguishes between Ceylon cinnamon, which is native to Sri Lanka, and the slightly more spicy cinnamon from China, as well as the Indonesian cinnamon Cinnamomum burmannii, which is often used in the USA and the Netherlands and in industry . Until the 1960s, Vietnam was the most important source of cassia cinnamon, due to the effects of the Vietnam War , cinnamon production was accelerated in the highlands of Sumatra ( Indonesia ). In Vietnamese cuisine, cinnamon is very popular in connection with meat dishes. Nowadays (2014) China, Indonesia and Sri Lanka are the main producers.

Real cinnamon consists of several fine layers that are rolled up into a closed rod and resemble a cigar in cross-section. Other types of cinnamon usually only consist of a single, thick layer of bark, which rolls up at both ends and therefore does not form a closed stick.

Once the cinnamon has been ground, it is very difficult to distinguish between different types of cinnamon. Cinnamon varieties are often mixed in the industry, be it for cost reasons or to adapt the aroma and baking properties. Real cinnamon is also only available to a limited extent.

Cinnamon powder can also be extended with a wide variety of means, with nuts, almond, cocoa shell powder, sandalwood , wood, tree bark meal, Zimtabfällen (chips), oil seed residues , palm kernel meal , clove stems , galangal , pears flour, ocher etc.

In medicine

From ancient times to the early modern times, the cinnamon bark was considered to be beneficial for coughs and runny nose, stomach-tonic, diuretic, laxative, menstrual-promoting, but also hemorrhoidal, for example with hemorrhoids.

A possible blood sugar-lowering effect of cinnamon in the early stages of diabetes mellitus is controversial in modern medicine. In a first pilot study, the effectiveness of larger doses of cinnamon (1–6 grams) on blood sugar and blood lipid levels was examined. A possible decrease in fasting blood sugar, triglycerides , total and LDL cholesterol could be observed here. In a further study on 79 patients, a decrease in the blood sugar level, but not in the HbA 1c value , which is considered to be the "long-term blood sugar level", and the blood lipid values ​​were observed. According to the current state of knowledge, cinnamon extract meets the criteria of a herbal dietetic for adjuvant therapy in type 2 diabetes, but clinical studies have not yet proven the effectiveness of the use of cinnamon in diabetes mellitus. Cinnamon oil and cinnamon bark have good antimicrobial activity. This is mainly due to the effect of cinnamaldehyde, the main component of the essential oil contained in cinnamon; but also p- cymene , linalool and o- methoxycinnamaldehyde are particularly active components . The German Diabetes Society and the German Pharmaceutical Society speak out against the use of cinnamon preparations for the treatment of type II diabetes.

As an essential oil

Chemical structure of cinnamaldehyde

A distinction is made between the essential oil from the leaves and that from the bark, which is obtained by steam distillation. The cinnamon leaf oil consists of approx. 70-85% eugenol and cinnamaldehyde , ( phenols ), monoterpenes (linalool), sesquiterpenes , other aldehydes and esters . The cinnamon bark oil consists of 55–75% cinnamaldehyde and up to approx. 10% each of eugenol (phenols), monoterpenes (linalool), sesquiterpenes, esters and monoterpenols. Both essential oils are very irritating to the skin, although the composition varies greatly depending on the origin. Oils can also be obtained from other cinnamon trees than real cinnamon; however, these can have a different composition.

Essential oil from the cinnamon leaves and the cinnamon bark must not be used during pregnancy as it promotes labor. However, when labor is difficult, the use of cinnamon can stimulate labor. For cinnamaldehyde, positive effects on progesterone synthesis could be proven in the experiment.

As incense

Cinnamon was used as an incense in ancient times . So was the bark u. a. an ingredient of the famous ancient Egyptian incense kyphi . Both the flower and the bark release the typical, floral-cinnamon odor when burned.

World production

In 2018 the world harvest was 221,815 tons. The country with the largest cinnamon production in the world was Indonesia , which produced 37.7% of the world's harvest. Asia was responsible for about 98.5% of the world's harvest.

The four largest cinnamon producers in 2018 were:

rank Country of production Amount in t
1 IndonesiaIndonesia Indonesia 83,734
2 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 81,545
3 VietnamVietnam Vietnam 29,053
4th Sri LankaSri Lanka Sri Lanka 24,020
world 221.815


The characteristic cinnamon aroma is based on cinnamaldehyde , which is the main component of all cinnamon oils. It is often accompanied by eugenol , which gives Ceylon and Padang cinnamon its spicy, burning taste. Eugenol is the main component (70–90%) of the essential oil from the leaves of C. ceylanicum.

All cinnamon barks also contain varying amounts of mucus (in the mucous cells ), starch and up to 1.8% sugar, on which the slightly sweet taste is based. They also contain tannins , especially in the primary bark. The tannin content is therefore highest in unpeeled Chinese cinnamon (2–3%), in Ceylon cinnamon it is less than 2%.

Ceylon cinnamon contains 1–4% essential oil with 65–76% cinnamaldehyde, 4–10% eugenol, as well as small amounts of p -cyymol , terpenes , methyl-n-amylketone and five aldehydes: nonylaldehyde , hydroxycinnamic aldehyde , cuminaldehyde , and benzaldehyde Furfural .

Seychelles cinnamon oil (with only a faint cinnamon smell) differs mainly in its low cinnamaldehyde content (32%) and the presence of camphor .

Chinese cinnamon contains 1.5–4% essential oil of which 75–90% consists of cinnamaldehyde. It is practically free from eugenol, but in small amounts salicylaldehyde , methylsalicylaldehyde , benzaldehyde, methyl-o-coumaraldehyde , coumarin , acetic acid cinnamon ester , benzoic acid , cinnamic acid as well as higher fatty acids and other compounds.

Padang cinnamon has most of the oil cells and therefore has a particularly high oil content.

Saigon cinnamon, Japanese cinnamon contains 2–6% essential oil, which, like Ceylon cinnamon oil, contains a lot of cinnamaldehyde and a little eugenol.

Culilawan cinnamon, Lawang cinnamon contains 5–9% essential oil, which differs from the other cinnamon oils in the lack of cinnamaldehyde. According to different sources, the composition of the oil in the different bark patterns differs greatly. Some contain almost only eugenol, others eugenol and safrole in roughly equal amounts or <24% eugenol with a lot of safrole.

In addition, calcium oxalate (which occurs in small needles from medullary ray and bast parenchyma) occurs in some types of cinnamon, in Chinese cinnamon with 0.05-1.35%, in Ceylon cinnamon with 2.5-6%.

Health risks

Cinnamon, especially the cheaper cinnamon varieties, contains coumarin , which in higher doses is considered harmful. This cinnamon ("cassia cinnamon"), which comes from China, Indonesia or Vietnam , is used almost exclusively in finished products .

The coumarin content of the cinnamon varieties differs considerably: while it is around 0.2-0.3 g per kg in cinnamon from cinnamon cassia (cassia cinnamon) and up to 9 g per kg in Indonesian and Vietnamese cinnamon in the same amount of Ceylon cinnamon only approx. 0.02 g of coumarin.

Coumarin (chemical structural formula)

According to the valid Flavor Regulation EG 1334/2008, coumarin is one of the substances that may not be added to food as such (Annex III, Part A of the Flavor Regulation) and is subject to certain maximum quantities if it occurs naturally in flavors or food ingredients with flavor properties (Annex III , Part B). Depending on the type of food, the maximum permissible levels are between 5 mg / kg for desserts and 50 mg / kg for traditional and / or seasonal baked goods where cinnamon is indicated on the label .

Coumarin can cause headaches if overdosed and in sensitive people. In the event of severe overdoses, liver damage, liver inflammation and possibly cancer can occur, as has been found in animal experiments with rats . Its transferability to humans is uncertain. No comparable human studies have been performed.

In food samples in North Rhine-Westphalia in January 2006, cinnamon products were first found that exceeded the maximum value of the coumarin content (in accordance with the applicable Flavor Ordinance ) by 37 times. In June 2006, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) warned in a statement against the consumption of large amounts of cinnamon-containing products: Even with 20 grams of the most highly contaminated cinnamon stars per day - this corresponds to about three pieces - over a longer period of time, the maximum tolerable intake for small children is reached. A second statement by the BfR relates to cinnamon capsules that are sold for the treatment of type II diabetes mellitus . Further controls were announced in October 2006 by the Ministry of Consumers . Cinnamon products were discovered in Rhineland-Palatinate that contained 103 mg of coumarin per kilogram, while the maximum value of the German Flavor Ordinance in force at the time was only 2 mg / kg (until November 1, 2006, however, 67 mg / kg).

BfR has published 2006 TDI (tolerable daily intake, tolerable daily intake ) of 0.1 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day based on new data recording and bioavailability confirmed by coumarin in September 2012 found. At the same time, the office points out that the TDI value can only be exceeded if large amounts of cinnamon-containing foods are consumed every day. In infants having a body weight of 15 kg, according to the BfR TDI would be a daily consumption of 6 cinnamon or 100 g gingerbread exhausted.

Cinnamon can also be found in other products such as breakfast products, gingerbread, puddings, mulled wine, various types of tea, spice mixtures (e.g. curry ) and even cosmetics. Therefore, the daily ration should be placed under the recommendations of the BfR, depending on the personal consumption of such “contaminated” products.

However, there is no clear evidence of the alleged dangerousness of coumarin during normal use of spices containing coumarin. In all of the studies, adverse health effects only occurred after extreme overdoses in experiments on rats.

In the domestic area, it is recommended to use the more expensive Ceylon cinnamon, which can be obtained in Asia shops (here especially Tamil shops), health food stores, pharmacies or drugstores and is considered harmless due to the low coumarin content.

The BfR accuses the food industry of using the cheaper "cassia cinnamon" instead of the more expensive Ceylon cinnamon for reasons of cost. The food industry, however, denies the accusation with the argument that “cassia cinnamon” is mainly used because of its excellent taste. The typical cinnamon aroma also survives the baking process better. Furthermore, for quantitative reasons, it is not possible to use Ceylon cinnamon, as it is too rare for that.

In the discussion about higher or lower coumarin values ​​and their possible health risks, it is often overlooked that coumarin itself has a very strong aroma and consequently contributes significantly to the cinnamon aroma. This can be easily checked by first visualizing the typical scent of coumarin (such as tonka beans or woodruff) and then comparing the scent of Ceylon and cassia cinnamon. In cassia cinnamon, coumarin contributes the strong, sweet note that Ceylon cinnamon often lacks. The two varieties do not smell and taste the same and are therefore not freely interchangeable. Depending on your personal taste, with the choice of Ceylon cinnamon you also forego an essential aroma of cinnamon.

See also


  • Wolfgang Huebner, Michael Wissing: Cinnamon. The fragrant jewel from the Arabian Nights - stimulating, history and recipes. AT, Baden / Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-03800-551-3 .

Web links

Commons : Cinnamon  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: cinnamon  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

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