Does cinnamon help osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a common joint condition that causes pain and stiffness in the joints. It happens when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears down over time. While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, certain remedies can help relieve symptoms. Some people claim cinnamon may help osteoarthritis pain and inflammation. Here is an in-depth look at the evidence.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones gradually wears away over time. This causes swelling, pain, and difficulty moving the joint.

The most commonly affected joints are the hands, knees, hips and spine. Risk factors include:

  • Older age
  • Obesity
  • Joint injuries
  • Genetics
  • Gender (women are more commonly affected)

There’s no cure for osteoarthritis. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and improving joint mobility. This may include pain medication, physiotherapy, assistive devices like canes or walkers, and sometimes surgery.

Some people try complementary remedies like supplements and herbs to ease OA symptoms. Cinnamon is one spice that’s sometimes suggested. Let’s look at the evidence on cinnamon and osteoarthritis.

Claims about cinnamon and osteoarthritis

Cinnamon is an aromatic spice derived from the inner bark of cinnamon trees. It’s popular in cooking and baking.

Some natural health websites and proponents suggest cinnamon may offer these benefits for osteoarthritis:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Relieve joint pain
  • Slow cartilage breakdown

The main theory behind cinnamon and osteoarthritis is that cinnamon contains compounds that reduce inflammation. Osteoarthritis involves chronic inflammation, which causes joint damage over time. In theory, lowering inflammation could reduce OA progression and symptoms.

Some sources specifically recommend Ceylon cinnamon, rather than the more common Cassia cinnamon, claiming it has more anti-inflammatory compounds.

Studies on cinnamon and inflammation

A number of studies have shown cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties:

  • A 2015 review of clinical trials found cinnamon supplements reduced levels of several common inflammatory markers in people with metabolic syndrome.
  • A 2016 study in rats with kidney disease found giving cinnamon extract reduced levels of several inflammation-promoting proteins.
  • A 2020 study showed giving mice a cinnamon supplement reduced inflammatory responses and physical impairments after injury or surgery.

Researchers believe active compounds in cinnamon like cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin are responsible for these anti-inflammatory effects.

This evidence suggests cinnamon supplements may lower inflammation in general. However, there’s limited research specifically on cinnamon and osteoarthritis.

Studies on cinnamon and arthritis

Very few studies have looked directly at cinnamon and osteoarthritis. However, a couple of studies have investigated the effects of cinnamon compounds on arthritis symptoms:

  • A 2010 study treated rats with rheumatoid arthritis with an extract of Ceylon cinnamon. The extract reduced paw swelling and other clinical signs.
  • A 2016 study found that giving rats with rheumatoid arthritis Cassia cinnamon essential oil modestly reduced paw swelling. It also lowered blood levels of inflammatory proteins like tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a).

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, rather than osteoarthritis which is from wear and tear. But both involve painful joint inflammation.

The results suggest compounds in Ceylon and Cassia cinnamon may modestly reduce arthritis inflammation and joint swelling in rats. However, human trials are needed.

Anecdotal evidence

In the absence of extensive clinical trials on cinnamon and osteoarthritis, some people rely on anecdotal evidence from human OA sufferers.

Many people with osteoarthritis claim taking cinnamon supplements or using cinnamon essential oil topically helps relieve their joint pain and morning stiffness.

For example, on arthritis forums some people say taking 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon powder in water twice a day significantly reduced their knee or hand osteoarthritis pain and improved mobility. Others say rubbing cinnamon oil directly onto sore knees was helpful.

However, these anecdotal reports are not scientifically rigorous evidence. Placebo effects can be very strong with supplements and home remedies. Only controlled studies can determine if cinnamon is truly effective.

Potential risks and side effects

Cinnamon as a spice is generally safe, even in generous amounts used for cooking. But concentrated cinnamon supplements or oils may cause side effects in some people.

Reported side effects include:

  • Mouth sores or irritation from cinnamon powder
  • Allergic reactions
  • Low blood sugar
  • Liver toxicity
  • drug interactions

Cassia cinnamon also contains a compound called coumarin. In rare cases, high coumarin intake over long periods has caused liver damage. Ceylon cinnamon contains only trace coumarin amounts.

Due to the risks, don’t exceed recommended cinnamon doses or take cinnamon oil internally. Only use supplements from reputable brands following good manufacturing practices. Inform your doctor about cinnamon supplementation in case of interactions.

Don’t apply cinnamon oil directly to the skin without diluting it first to avoid irritation. Do a patch test before wide application.

Recommended cinnamon dosages

There’s no standardized dose for cinnamon and osteoarthritis. In clinical studies, doses range widely from 120 mg to 3 grams of cinnamon extracts daily.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends:

  • Ceylon cinnamon: Up to 1-2 grams per day
  • Cassia cinnamon: Do not exceed 0.5 grams per day

For cinnamon essential oil, dilute 1 drop in 1 teaspoon carrier oil before topical use.

Talk to a doctor experienced in herbs and supplements for personalized dosage and safety guidance.


Research suggests cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties that may help lower general inflammation. A couple small animal studies also hint cinnamon may reduce arthritis swelling and joint damage.

However, direct clinical trials are needed to demonstrate cinnamon helps relieve osteoarthritis in humans. Anecdotal reports are encouraging but not conclusive evidence.

Cinnamon supplements, spice or oil may be a safe complementary option to try under medical supervision. But there’s no proof yet that cinnamon relieves OA. Don’t use it in place of standard osteoarthritis treatments without a doctor’s approval.

More large scale human trials are required to determine if cinnamon is truly effective for osteoarthritis symptoms.

Frequently asked questions

Does cinnamon reduce arthritis inflammation?

Studies show compounds in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects that may help lower general inflammation. A couple small animal studies also found cinnamon reduced inflammatory markers and joint swelling in arthritis. However, human clinical trials are still needed.

Is cinnamon good for osteoarthritis?

Some early research and anecdotal reports suggest cinnamon may help osteoarthritis by lowering inflammation. But there’s currently no solid clinical evidence proving cinnamon improves osteoarthritis in humans. More research is needed.

How much cinnamon should you take for arthritis?

There’s no established dosage, but health authorities recommend limiting Cassia cinnamon to 0.5 grams per day and Ceylon cinnamon to 1-2 grams daily. Consult a doctor for guidance on cinnamon supplements for arthritis.

What’s better for arthritis, Cassia or Ceylon cinnamon?

Both types provide compounds that may help arthritis. But Ceylon cinnamon contains very little coumarin, so it is safer in higher doses. Small amounts of Cassia cinnamon spice in cooking are likely safe for most people.

Should you take cinnamon for osteoarthritis?

Cinnamon is not proven effective yet, but it may be a safe complementary option to try under medical supervision along with standard OA treatments. Don’t use it to replace prescription medications without a doctor’s approval.

The bottom line

While the early lab research and anecdotal reports are promising, there’s currently insufficient clinical evidence that cinnamon relieves osteoarthritis. Well-designed human trials are needed.

Cinnamon supplementation appears reasonably safe for most people when following dosage guidelines. But take precautions and consult a doctor first, especially if taking medications or pregnant.

Don’t rely solely on cinnamon for osteoarthritis without attempts at proven treatments first. Talk to a doctor about how cinnamon could fit into an integrated treatment plan.

With your doctor’s approval, adding some cinnamon to your diet or taking supplements may be beneficial. But more research on osteoarthritis is still needed to confirm effectiveness.

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