Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from
the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods. The term
"cinnamon" also refers to its mid-brown colour.
While you may think of it as just a tasty
addition to French toast or rice pudding, the health benefits of cinnamon are
numerous. There are many types of cinnamon, but the health studies conducted
typically use Cassia, the type normally found in grocery stores.
Traditional Uses of Cinnamon
In China, cinnamon has been used for hundreds
of years. It is believed to improve vitality, boost energy and increase
circulation. It was often given to people who had cold feet, and it is an
important ingredient in chai, helping with the digestion of fruits and dairy
Other traditional uses for cinnamon include
It is a common ingredient in many
cultures and health philosophies including ayurveda. Practitioners
of Ayurvedic medicine often recommend it for the kapha type.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
While cinnamon has been used as a
traditional remedy in other cultures for years, there are also some newer uses
coming to the forefront with current research. These include everything from
fighting bacteria to reducing cholesterol.
Blood Sugar Control
New research into the health properties
of cinnamon provides hope for diabetics. Researchers at the United States
Department of Agriculture conducted a study on the benefits of
cinnamon using the pill form of the spice in various doses. Four groups
received either a placebo or varying amounts of cinnamon. Their blood glucose
levels were monitored. The net result was that cinnamon appeared to lower blood
glucose levels regardless of the dose, so a little went a long way.
Other studies also point to cinnamon as a promising agent to reduce
blood glucose levels. This is very important for people who may be diagnosed
with Adult Onset or Type II diabetes or insulin resistance, a warning sign of
impending diabetes. Cinnamon taken with meals, a healthy diet low in sugar and
moderate exercise may prevent development of full blown diabetes or delay its
onset for many years.
Cinnamon may also pack a powerful punch
against microbes. Research at Kansas State University demonstrated
that cinnamon fights E.coli bacteria. The study examined cinnamon used in
unpasteurized apple juice. When used alone or in combination with typical food
preservatives, cinnamon knocked the amount of E.coli bacteria in the apple
juice to almost undetectable levels. In another study conducted in
Taiwan, the People's Republic of China, demonstrated similar effects against
other strains of bacteria.
Another benefit of cinnamon appears to be
a reduction in LDL cholesterol, the so-called 'bad' cholesterol in the lipid
profile. A study published in Diabetes Care, a medical journal, indicated
that LDL cholesterol levels were reduced to even percent from 27 percent. Total
cholesterol levels appeared to decrease as well:
Total cholesterol was reduced by 12 to 26
LDL cholesterol was reduced by seven to
Triglycerides were reduced by 23 to 30
Health Benefits of Cinnamon:
These studies are not the only ones.
Researchers are finding new benefits of cinnamon every day. For example,
recently animal studies have shown cinnamon to be active against
Candida albicans (a fungus that causes yeast infections) and Helicobacter
pylori (the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers). Cinnamon is also known for the following
·Anti-clotting effect on the
·Stops medication resistant
·Smelling cinnamon boosts
·Protect the colon against
·Protects against coronary
·Effective against head
·Protects against stroke
Interactions and Safety
Sprinkling some cinnamon on your toast or
eating a cinnamon roll is not going to affect the medication you may be taking.
However, if you decide to use therapeutic doses of cinnamon, you should discuss
your plans with your health care provider. This is especially true if you take
any of the following medications or have the conditions listed:
such as Coumadin
Cinnamon is also a beneficial
essential oil. As such, it is used for the following conditions:
It is important that cinnamon oils not be
taken internally because ingestion of these concentrated oils can be
Spice to Your Diet
The health benefits of cinnamon are
varied. Adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to your morning oatmeal, drinking a cup
of chai or stirring some into the cookies you bake are all great ways to add
this beneficial spice to your diet. Always consult your doctor or
health care provider before using cinnamon in therapeutic doses the researchers
used. Being healthy never tasted so sweet.