Chinese Name : 桂枝
Latin Name : Ramulus Cinnamomi Cassiae
This herb is the dried tender twig of Cinnamomum cassia Presl. of the family Lauraceae. It is grown mainly in the Guangxi, Guangdong, and Yunnan provinces of China. The twigs are harvested in spring or summer, cleaned, dried in the sun, sliced and used unprocessed. Cinnamon twig induces diaphoresis. Traditionally, it is used to treat Wind-Cold-type colds and rheumatic disorders. It can invigorate blood circulation for the treatment of menstrual disorders, such as irregular menstruation.
Use of Cinnamon Twig in TCM
Pungent and sweet in taste, and warm, it acts on the lung, heart, and urinary bladder meridians.
Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations
- Dispels Wind-Cold exopathogens and induces diaphoresis: to treat colds and associated symptoms, cinnamon twig is blended with white peony root, dry ginger, Chinese date (jujube), and licorice root, as in Gui Zhi Tang.
- Relieves arthralgia: for shoulder, limb, and joint pain caused by arthritis (Cold-Damp Bi-syndrome), cinnamon twig is used with the lateral root of aconite, as in Gui Zhi Fu Zi Tang.
- Invigorates blood circulation and dissipates Cold in the blood: for irregular menstruation, amenorrhea, lower abdominal pain, and mass formation in the lower abdomen (as a result of stagnation and Cold accumulation in the blood), cinnamon twig can be prescribed with Chinese angelica, peony root (shao yao), cnidium (chuan xiong rhizome), peach kernel, and moutan bark (dan pi), as in Wen Jing Tang.
- Relieves stomach-abdominal spasms and pain : for abdominal pain due to Cold in the Middle-Jiao, cinnamon twig is used with white peony root, malt extract, fresh ginger, and astragalus root, along with other herbs, as in Xiao Jian Zhong Tang (R-60).
- Induces diuresis and relieves edema: for difficult urination, fluid retention, and edema, cinnamon twig is combined with white hoelen, polyporus (zhu ling), and alisma (zhe xie), as in Wu Ling San (R-68).
- Relieves stagnation of Qi in the chest and chest pain: to treat a feeling of fullness in the chest, retention of phlegm, and coughing, cinnamon twig is mixed with immature bitter orange, trichosanthes fruit, and macrostem onion. It is also used with poria, white atractylodes, and licorice root, as in Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang (R-74).
In a decoction of 3 to 9 g for colds or 15 to 20 g for arthralgia.
People with febrile disease, hyperactivity of the heart, or with yin deficiency should avoid this herb. Pregnant women or women with heavy menstruation should use this herb with caution.
Side Effects and Toxicity
No adverse side effects or toxicity were reported at the therapeutic dose. The chemically active ingredient, cinnamaldehyde, is potent and large doses have caused spasms, motor imbalance, polypnea, and death due to paralysis.
Cinnamon twigs and leaves contain 1 to 2 percent essential oils. The chief ingredients of the oils are eugenol, cinnamic aldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, phenylpropyl acetate, eugenol acetate, and cinnamic acid.
Cinnamon twig showed the following pharmacological actions :
- Antipyretic, diaphoretic, and analgesic. Cinnamon twig, cinnamaldehyde, and the decoction of the herb reduced the normal body temperature of mice and artificially induced fever in rabbits.
- Sedative, hypnotic, and anticonvulsant activity.
- Antiallergenic and immunologic activity. The extract of the herb was inhibitory on the complementary activity in the heterophile antibody reaction. Cinnamaldehyde was shown to inhibit allegic reaction.
- Antitussive and diuretic.
- Invigorates uterine and coronary-blood circulation, relieves menstrual disorders and increases coronary blood flow.
- Antimicrobial activity was also shown in vitro.