Cinnamon is probably a lot of people’s favorite spice since it has a sweet and warming taste. Did you know that there are also many medicinal benefits of cinnamon? This spice has been used for thousands of years. It is so old that there are drawings of it in the Egyptian pyramids. It was imported from China over 2000 years ago to embalm mummies. Greeks and Romans used it to improve digestion. Cinnamon, together with cardamom and pepper, was one of the first spices used in the Mediterranean.
It is also mentioned in the Bible several times. Its use in India started over 1,000 years ago and it is incorporated in Ayurvedic medicine. Cinnamon was a very expensive spice in the Middle Ages and it was only for the wealthy. It was traded through the Muslims into Europe. In the 19th century, cinnamon started being cultivated in other parts of the world.
Cinnamon is made from the bark of Cinnamomum verum (or Cinnamomum zeylanicum) tree which you can grow in tropical climates like my farm in Pedasi. The bark of the tree has several compounds such as cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid and cinnamate which contribute to the medicinal benefits of cinnamon.
It is easy to include cinnamon in your diet since it can sweeten recipes without sugar. Try adding it into food such as coffee, tea, yogurt, fruit, oatmeal or baked goods. Cinnamon is very useful in slowing down sugar absorption and curbing cravings since it can stabilize blood sugar. This spice can be used by people with insulin sensitivity.
Cinnamon can help preserve food because it has anti bacterial abilities, eliminating the need to use artificial ingredients or chemicals. It is especially useful in preserving fruit petting since it possesses anti-tyrosinase activities which stop the discoloration caused by the oxidation of fruits and vegetables. It also helps the body fight any fungi or mold related diseases.
How to Use Cinnamon
Medicinal benefits of cinnamon can be obtained from the ground spice (which is bark powder), the bark itself, essential oils or extract forms which can isolate its flavonoids, antioxidants or phenolic acids. Cinnamon pills or capsules are also available for those who need to take a concentrated and quick dose of the spice.
Try to buy organic Ceylon cinnamon powder and cinnamon essential oil to get more benefits. Cassia is cheaper and more commonly used. Cinnamon sticks can be grated using a small grater. Whole sticks are used in liquids such as mulled wine to give them flavor. I like to brew a tea with cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger and turmeric. Ayurvedic medicine recommends using this spice during winter since it has a warming and metabolic properties. They believe it balances the Vata and Kaphadoshas in the body.
Cinnamon has many nutrients and vitamins including manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, cooper, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin B6 and niacin, as well as fiber. Magnesium and calcium work together to maintain a healthy heart and are essential for strong bones, since they can prevent osteoporosis.
Risks of Cinnamon
There are four types of cinnamon, but just two are commonly used which are Ceylon Cinnamon and the Cassia Cinnamon. The use of cinnamon is safe in moderation, which is about two teaspoons per day. Coumarin is a compound found in cinnamon that can cause damage to the liver and kidneys if consumed in high doses. Cassia cinnamon contains much more coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon. Excess consumption of coumarin found in Cassia cinnamon could increase the risk of cancer.
Medicinal benefits of cinnamon include lowering blood sugar levels which may interfere with medication used to lower blood sugar. There are no known allergies or allergic reactions if taken in small doses. Test cinnamon essential oil on a small patch on your skin before using larger amounts to prevent allergies.
Do not exceed the recommended dose of cinnamon extract without speaking to your doctor. Pregnant and breastfeeding women can take advantage of the medicinal benefits of cinnamon in moderation. Cinnamon is one of the herbs that prepare for labor. People who have had surgery recently, diabetes or have liver disease should be cautious about consuming cinnamon. Dogs can also eat this spice, preferably the Ceylon cinnamon to prevent negative side effects.
Medicinal Benefits of Cinnamon
High in Antioxidants
Medicinal benefits of cinnamon include its ability to slow down aging, since it is very rich in antioxidants which reduce free radical damage. Research has found at least 41 protective compounds in the spice. The ORAC scale, which measures antioxidants in different foods, ranked cinnamon as #7. It is even more powerful than other herbs such as garlic, rosemary and thyme.
Flavonoids, phenolic and polyphenols help fight oxidative stress in the body, as well as prevent chronic disease. Cinnamon helps limit nitric oxide buildup in the blood and prevents fat peroxidation, both of which can increase the risk of chronic conditions, heart disease, cancer and brain disorders.
Cinnamon is useful for decreasing menstrual pain and regulating periods. It is also useful for fertility and as a herb to induce prepare for labor. This spice is considered to be an aphrodisiac since it stimulates the libido and helps with erectile dysfunction.
One of the medicinal benefits of cinnamon is its ability to preserve and boost the brain function. This is due to all of its antioxidants which protect neurons against oxidative stress by reducing damage in cells and the risk of inflammation.
Cinnamon is helpful in preventing neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. In vitro studies show that cinnamon can help to block the buildup of a specific protein in the brain thus reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Antioxidants are the main source of many of the medicinal benefits of cinnamon. The different types of flavonoids found in the spice are very effective in fighting inflammation levels throughout the body. It can be used to manage pain. Medicinal benefits of cinnamon include managing allergic reactions, reducing muscle soreness and other age related symptoms of pain.
Less inflammation in the body means lower risk of cognitive decline, cancer, heart disease and other conditions.
Medicinal benefits of cinnamon can lower many risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels and high cholesterol levels. High blood pressure can make people more likely to have strokes or heart disease. This herb can regenerate heart tissue and increase circulation which is very useful in fighting strokes, heart attacks and heart disease.
Cinnamon is also a great blood coagulant, which means it helps the body to form blood clots so it can stop excess bleeding.
Cinnamon is considered to be one of the best foods for diabetics because it can lower blood sugar levels. It can also block several digestive enzymes to slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Researchers believe that this spice is particularly helpful to people with diabetes type 2, especially after consuming carbohydrates. Medicinal benefits of cinnamon also include its ability to improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which can keep blood sugar levels balanced by transporting sugar from the bloodstream to the tissues.
Antifungal properties of cinnamon can help prevent and treat Candida albicans in the digestive tract. This yeast can cause many digestive and autoimmune issues. Medicinal benefits of cinnamon can also lower blood sugar levels. Increased amounts of sugar in the digestive tract may be associated with a higher risk for candida.
Your gut produces most of your body’s serotonin which is the happy hormone. Cinnamon is a natural digestive which can help you relieve constipation and stomach discomfort. Drink a tea made with one cup of warm water, half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder and half a lime two to three times per week.
Cinnamon has antiemetic, carminative and anti ulcer properties. This spice stimulates salivation and gastric uses. It can be used to treat digestive problems (one teaspoon before meals), acidity (sprinkle over food), lack of appetite (drink a cup of cinnamon tea before meals), vomiting (sprinkle over foods) and flatulence (drink cinnamon tea).
Antioxidants found in cinnamon can help protect against cancerous tumor growth, cell mutation and DNA damage. Medicinal benefits of cinnamon are being investigated as a natural cancer fighting food which can be taken as a supplement by those who have cancer or are at risk. This is especially true with colon cancer since studies show that medicinal benefits of cinnamon can improve the health of the colon. Cinnamaldehyde is a compound found in cinnamon which can protect DNA and inhibit tumor growth while killing cancer cells.
Fights Viruses and Infections
Medicinal benefits of cinnamon include its antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral and antimicrobial properties which help the body defend itself from illness. Cinnamon essential oils have strong immune boosting compounds which can protect against bacterial infections, which can cause pneumonia, common cold and strep throat. Ayurvedic use of cinnamon uses the spice to reduce seasonal cough, mucus and excessive phlegm. It can be drank as a tea or you can combine one tablespoon of honey with a bit of cinnamon.
There is a reason why so many toothpastes contain cinnamon. Just like peppermint, one of the medicinal benefits of cinnamon is its ability to remove oral bacteria and fight bad breath without inserting chemicals in the body. It is also used as a tooth powder and natural remedy for mouth sores, dental problems and toothaches (like cloves). This is due to the essential oils found in cinnamon which have antibacterial properties that fight bacteria in the mouth, like a mouthwash.
Antibiotic and antimicrobial properties found in cinnamon can help protect the skin from infection, rashes, irritation and allergic reactions. Cinnamon essential oil can reduce redness, pain, swelling and inflammation of the skin. Make sure to use a carrying oil or honey which is another antimicrobial agent which can boost skin health. This is especially beneficial for people who suffer from skin allergies, acne and rosacea.
Cinnamon can be used to control acne by applying 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with honey or yogurt to acne or acne scars. A mask of banana, cinnamon and rosewater can be used as a balancing and hydrating face mask.
Medicinal benefits of cinnamon can help the body find relief from allergens because it fights histamine and reduces inflammation.