Cinnamon: The Magic Spice

Kara Bauer Health Guide September 07, 2012
  • Cinnamon has always been known as a healing spice, which scientific studies are now beginning to prove. For instance, an Israeli researcher discovered its anti-viral properties after seeing it mentioned in the bible as part of a holy oil prepared during animal sacrifices to potentially prevent the spread of infectious agents.[1] It is even said that it may have saved cinnamon factory workers during the 1918 flu outbreak, who seemed to be immune to the virus during that time.

     

    Cinnamon has also been used in Ayurvedic medicine, which is over 5,000 years old for digestive, respiratory and reproductive system conditions. It is typically recommended for Kapha and Vata types, but not Pitta types due to its heating effect, which can be aggravating for their already warm body constitution. However, due to these same properties, it has been recommended in traditional Chinese medicine for colds and other respiratory infections. [2]

     

    The two most common varieties of cinnamon are Ceylon, which is light brown and sweet, and Cassia, which is darker in color and less sweet. Cassia is said to contain more “coumarin” which can act as a blood thinner and even damage the liver if consumed in excess, although it also has healing properties when ingested in moderation. [3]

     

    Cinnamon is a great source of manganese (45.5%), fiber (11%) and calcium (5.2%) [4], but the real healing components are found in the essential oils of the bark. Here are just a few of the miraculous findings in relation to cinnamon and health.

     

    Cinnamon lowers blood sugar

    Studies have shown that cinnamon lowers blood sugar and blood pressure in those with type 2 Diabetes. A study published in 2003 by Diabetes Care identified that as little as 1g of cinnamon per day “reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes.” [5] As Dr. Mercola informs us, it does this by slowing the stomach emptying (preventing blood sugar spikes) and enhancing antioxidant defenses. [6]

     

    Cinnamon improves brain function

    Studies have shown that cinnamon reduces brain swelling for tramatic injury and stroke victims. [7] It has also been discovered that even just the smell of cinnamon can improve cognitive functioning and memory. [8]

     

    Cinnamon is anti-fungal

    Cinnamon has been shown to prevent and stop the growth of bacteria, fungi and yeasts and is often used to prevent and or lesson Candida yeast growth. A study published in 2003 in the International Journal of Food Microbiology showed that Cinnamon could act has a powerful food preservative with just a few drops of extract was added to a broth. [4]

     

    Cinnamon can inhibit tumor growth

    A study published in July of 2010 showed that cinnamon extract had an anti-tumor effect by inducing tumor cell death, which could lead to the development of an alternative or complementary treatment for a diverse range of cancers. [9]

     

    Cinnamon can decrease inflammation

    Inflammation is at the root of almost every disease in the body, whether the inflammation causes the disease or vise versa. Cinnamon acts as an anti-inflammatory by lowering the release of arachidonic

  • acid from cell membranes. [4]

     

    Beyond these five health benefits, cinnamon has also been connected to weight loss, preventing unwanted blood clotting, contributing to the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular health. In order to reap these benefits, it’s important that you be sure to take the right amount of cinnamon or cinnamon extract, as there can also be negative effects if consumed in large amounts over time (primarily with the cassia variety as mentioned earlier). 

     

    [1] Medicalnewstoday.com (2007, July 25). Key to cinnamon anti-viral extract found in the bible, says israeli researcher. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/77703.php

     

    [2] Naturalstandard.com (2011, March). Medicinal uses for cinnamon. Retrieved from http://www.naturalstandard.com/news/news201103012.asp

     

    [3] Renegadehealth.com/blog (2012, August 1). 5 health benefits of cinnamon—ceylon and cassia. Retrieved from    http://renegadehealth.com/blog/2012/08/01/5-health-benefits-of-cinnamon-ceylon-and-cassia

     

    [4] Whfoods.com (No date). Cinnamon, ground. Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=68 

     

    [5] Pubmed.gov "Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes," A. Kahn, et. al. Diabetes Care, December 2003: 26(12):3215-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14633804

     

    [6] Mercola, J. (2010, October 12). Half a yeaspoon of this each day can optimize cholesterol levels. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/12/more-evidence-cinnamon-helps-control-blood-sugar.aspx

     

    [7] Bliss, R.M. (2009, November 9). Researchers study effect of cinnamon compounds on brain cells. Retrieved from http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2009/091109.htm

     

    [8] Nutraingredients.com (2004, April 6). Cinnamon boosts brain activity. Retrieved from http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Cinnamon-boosts-brain-activity?utm_source=REFERENCES_R7&LS-2659

     

    [9] Pubmed.org. "Cinnamon extract induces tumor cell death through inhibition of NFkappaB and AP1," HK Kwan, et. al. BMC Cancer, July 2010: 10:392.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20653974