A spice that’s probably been in your pantry forever but with health benefits you wouldn’t imagine – that’s cinnamon for you. Cinnamon may not be as exotic or integral to traditional medicines as, say, turmeric. But it has been tapped in home remedies and naturopathy and is being studied for its far-ranging benefits – for everything from cardiovascular health and diabetes to acne and yeast infections!
Researchers use both cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromaticum) as well as true cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) or Ceylon cinnamon in their studies. In some studies, the type of cinnamon used is unspecified, in which case you should be able to go with either. Both varieties have health benefits but what follows should offer some guidance based on your requirements and medical history.
1. Moderates Blood Sugar Levels And Reduces Insulin Resistance
One of cinnamon’s claims to fame is that it is a wonder spice of sorts for diabetics, helping on multiple fronts. It can moderate blood sugar levels, reduce insulin resistance, and help ease diabetes-related problems like hyperlipidemia.1 Taking cinnamon can show results in as little as 40 days, as one study revealed. Diabetic test subjects took between 1 and 6 gm of cinnamon daily and saw their mean fasting serum glucose levels drop by between 18 and 29 percent.2
2. Lowers Cholesterol And Has Cardiovascular Benefits
Cinnamon can work its magic on your heart in a relatively short time. In one instance, when test subjects with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease took 1500 mg of cinnamon extract every day for just 12 weeks, their triglyceride and total cholesterol numbers both improved.4
The cinnamaldehyde in its bark improves lipid metabolism. This helps you fight not just metabolic disorders but also inflammation-induced obesity.5
3. Reduces Blood Pressure Due To Dilating Action Of Cinnamaldehyde
If you’re grappling with a high blood pressure problem, a hint of cinnamon in your diet may ease the problem.8 That’s because the cinnamaldehyde in the spice causes blood vessels to dilate, which in turn helps lower your blood pressure.9 True cinnamon and cassia have been explored for these effects and shown promise. That said, an abundance of animal studies exist while further investigation may be needed to confirm effectiveness in humans.
id="cuts-inflammation-and-fights-inflammatory-disease">4. Cuts Inflammation And Fights Inflammatory Disease
Cinnamon helps cut inflammation in the body courtesy its abundance of flavonoid compounds – and the spice has many. Quercetin, gnaphalium, oroxindin, hypolaetin, hesperidin, gossypin, and hibifolin in cinnamon lend it its many anti-inflammatory properties. These have piqued the interest of the research and medical community. Cinnamon is being studied for its possible applications in neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s, where inflammatory processes have been implicated in the progress of the disease.10
5. Tackles Bacterial, Fungal, And Viral Infections
The antimicrobial properties of cinnamon can be tapped to overcome infections. True cinnamon, in particular, has medicinal benefits owing to its antiparasitic, antibacterial, and antiviral activity.12
Brew up a cinnamon-based herbal tea to derive the benefits. Topical use of the essential oil, diluted and used with a carrier oil, can also help with certain yeast or fungal infections. For best results, consult a trained naturopathy or alternative medicine practitioner or your doctor first.
6. Prevents Acne Breakouts In Combination With Honey
Honey, like cinnamon, has antibacterial properties. Combining the two in remedies for acne can have an additive effect, helping you get rid of bacteria responsible for breakouts.15
7. Eases PCOS Symptoms, Menstrual Cramps, And Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
A simple home remedy for menstrual cramps involves using a warm compress with a couple of drops of cinnamon oil. This is said to ease the pain of a troublesome period and even reduce heavy menstrual bleeding.16
Scientific research also has evidence of the benefits of cinnamon for female health. Specifically, those with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) find that the spice helps improve their insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, and fasting glucose numbers.17 Women with PCOS usually struggle with insulin resistance.
8. Helps You Overcome Fatigue And Feel Energized
Just a whiff of cinnamon can perk you up on the slowest of days. Used in aromatherapy, the essential oil of cinnamon blended with a carrier or diffused in the room can do wonders for your alertness and help you feel less tired. Researchers have found it can even help with alertness among drivers who are on the road for prolonged lengths of time.18
The methylhydroxychalcone polymer in cinnamon regulates blood glucose levels, helping your body use its sugar properly. As a result, you have a sustained source of energy to keep you going.19
9. Boosts Circulation And Cuts Inflammation To Ease Arthritis Symptoms
While its anti-inflammatory properties may not be adequate on their own to cure or completely manage arthritis, cinnamon can be a good ally when combined with other anti-inflammatory foods in an inflammation-fighting diet. The cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid in the spice can inhibit free radical initiated cell damage, helping reduce inflammation. This in turn fights the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis.20
Cassia Versus Cinnamon: Choose Depending On Flavor And Your Health Profile
As mentioned, researchers don’t always differentiate between cassia and true cinnamon in their studies nor have they established if one is better than the other. The main difference now is of flavor. Over 95% of cassia is cinnamaldehyde, giving it a strong aroma. Ceylon or true cinnamon, on the other hand, has only 50–60% of cinnamaldehyde, making it milder.21
The cassia cinnamon, though more widely available and cheaper, has one downside, though – higher coumarin content.22 This plant compound is an anticoagulant and can even damage the liver when used in large quantities. So, if you’re a big fan of cinnamon and use it a lot, get hold of the Ceylon variety.
Limit Medicinal Or Therapeutic Doses To 2 To 5 Gm Per Day
Normally, dietary levels of cinnamon, used as a seasoning or ingredient in your food, should present no major problems. However, the recommended levels for therapeutic use are to be kept to within 2 to 5 gm a day for normal healthy adults. Pregnant women may need to exercise caution on taking larger therapeutic doses because not enough studies have been done to measure any adverse side effects on the pregnancy.23 Those with liver disease may find their condition worsens when they take large quantities of cassia cinnamon.
It is also important to know that cinnamon or cassia cinnamon cannot replace regular medication. They can only be used as supplementary measures after consulting your doctor.
|↑1||Qin, Bolin, Kiran S. Panickar, and Richard A. Anderson. “Cinnamon: potential role in the prevention of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.” Journal of diabetes science and technology 4, no. 3 (2010): 685-693.|
|↑2, ↑7||Khan, Alam, Mahpara Safdar, Mohammad Muzaffar Ali Khan, Khan Nawaz Khattak, and Richard A. Anderson. “Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes care 26, no. 12 (2003): 3215-3218.|
|↑3||Dugoua, Jean-Jacques, Dugald Seely, Dan Perri, Kieran Cooley, Taryn Forelli, Edward Mills, and Gideon Koren. “From type 2 diabetes to antioxidant activity: a systematic review of the safety and efficacy of common and cassia cinnamon bark This article is one of a selection of papers published in this special issue (part 1 of 2) on the Safety and Efficacy of Natural Health Products.” Canadian journal of physiology and pharmacology 85, no. 9 (2007): 837-847.|
|↑4||Askari, Faezeh, Bahram Rashidkhani, and Azita Hekmatdoost. “Cinnamon may have therapeutic benefits on lipid profile, liver enzymes, insulin resistance, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease patients.” Nutrition research 34, no. 2 (2014): 143-148.|
|↑5||Aggarwal, Bharat B. “Targeting inflammation-induced obesity and metabolic diseases by curcumin and other nutraceuticals.” Annual review of nutrition 30 (2010): 173.|
|↑6||Sheng, Xiaoyan, Yuebo Zhang, Zhenwei Gong, Cheng Huang, and Ying Qin Zang. “Improved insulin resistance and lipid metabolism by cinnamon extract through activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors.” PPAR research 2008 (2008).|
|↑8, ↑12||Ranasinghe, Priyanga, Shehani Pigera, GA Sirimal Premakumara, Priyadarshani Galappaththy, Godwin R. Constantine, and Prasad Katulanda. “Medicinal properties of ‘true’ cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): a systematic review.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 13, no. 1 (2013): 1.|
|↑9, ↑10, ↑14||Rao, Pasupuleti Visweswara, and Siew Hua Gan. “Cinnamon: a multifaceted medicinal plant.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014 (2014).|
|↑11||Lee, Seung Ho, Sun Young Lee, Dong Ju Son, Heesoon Lee, Hwan Soo Yoo, Sukgil Song, Ki Wan Oh, Dong Cho Han, Byoung Mog Kwon, and Jin Tae Hong. “Inhibitory effect of 2′-hydroxycinnamaldehyde on nitric oxide production through inhibition of NF-κB activation in RAW 264.7 cells.” Biochemical pharmacology 69, no. 5 (2005): 791-799.|
|↑13||Goni, P., P. López, C. Sánchez, R. Gómez-Lus, R. Becerril, and C. Nerín. “Antimicrobial activity in the vapour phase of a combination of cinnamon and clove essential oils.” Food chemistry 116, no. 4 (2009): 982-989.|
|↑15||Julianti, Elin, Kasturi K. Rajah, and Irda Fidrianny. “Antibacterial Activity of Ethanolic Extract of Cinnamon Bark, Honey, and Their Combination Effects against Acne-Causing Bacteria.” Scientia Pharmaceutica 85, no. 2 (2017): 19.|
|↑16||Marzouk, Tyseer MF, Amina MR El-Nemer, and Hany N. Baraka. “The effect of aromatherapy abdominal massage on alleviating menstrual pain in nursing students: A prospective randomized cross-over study.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 (2013).|
|↑17||Anderson, Richard A. “Chromium and polyphenols from cinnamon improve insulin sensitivity.” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 67, no. 01 (2008): 48-53.|
|↑18||Selhub, Eva M., and Alan C. Logan. Your brain on nature: The science of nature’s influence on your health, happiness and vitality. John Wiley & Sons, 2012.|
|↑19||Cinnamon Extract Spices Up Sugar Metabolism. USDA.|
|↑20||Best Spices for Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation.|
|↑21||Ranasinghe, Priyanga, Shehani Pigera, GA Sirimal Premakumara, Priyadarshani Galappaththy, Godwin R. Constantine, and Prasad Katulanda. “Medicinal properties of ‘true’cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): a systematic review.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 13, no. 1 (2013): 275.|
|↑22||Archer, Alan W. “Determination of cinnamaldehyde, coumarin and cinnamyl alcohol in cinnamon and cassia by high-performance liquid chromatography.” Journal of Chromatography A 447 (1988): 272-276.|
|↑23||Cinnamon. US Department of Health and Human Services.|