Cinnamon is a common spice and probably sits in your spice cabinet right now. It goes in everything from breakfast pastries to adult drinks. With the spice and sweetness as a signature flavor of cinnamon, it may come as a surprise that there are benefits of cinnamon that go well beyond breakfast rolls.
The benefits of cinnamon have been known in some cultures for centuries. In fact, cinnamon is considered medicine in certain parts of the world more than as a spice for flavoring food. From healing properties to calming agents, the benefits of cinnamon are astounding.
Some people may be surprised that one of the benefits of cinnamon is that it can help you lose weight. That simple spice in your cabinet is a powerful medicine that can compete with some of those expensive weight loss supplements.
This guide will give you some important facts about cinnamon. What exactly is cinnamon, for instance? What are the properties of cinnamon that make it so complex? And how can you get the benefits of cinnamon?
What is cinnamon?
The cinnamon spice comes from the inner bark of a tropical tree. The Cinnamomum tree is native to tropical regions but is now cultivated around the world. The inner bark is harvested and rolled into “quills.” This can be ground into a fine powder or used in the form of the quill, depending on how one chooses to use the bark. Cinnamon bark contains several aromatic compounds, most notably cinnamaldehyde, which gives cinnamon it's signature spicy piquancy.
The short answer is cinnamon is a spice, but the facts about cinnamon show us that it is far more complex than most of us realize. Cinnamon is naturally occurring flavoring but it is also natural medicine.
The most important chemical constituents of cinnamon are cinnamaldehyde and trans-cinnamaldehyde. These are present on the essential oil found in cinnamon bark and are responsible for most of the aromatic and medicinal properties. of the major constituents of essential oil extracted cinnamaldehyde is the principal compound responsible for this activity.
Of the potential benefits of cinnamon in its primary form, scientists have found antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory agents, the potential to combat diabetes, and cancer, and even antimicrobial properties.
The long carbon molecules that give cinnamon its aromatic flavor and scent are powerful medicines in addition to the simple spice that we are familiar with.
Types of Cinnamon
Many people may be surprised to learn that there are different types of cinnamon. A few varieties are cultivated around the world, and each finds its place in kitchens and apothecaries for specific reasons. The primary types of cinnamon are as follows:
Cinnamomum verum (formerly Cinnamomum zeylanicum). This is the form of cinnamon most of us know. It is often called real cinnamon, and in fact, the Latin name literally translates as “true cinnamon.” Ceylon cinnamon has a floral and citrusy scent and flavor and has been favored in European and Mexican cuisine.
Korintje Cassia Cinnamon
Cinnamomum burmannii. We know this flavor in America, especially if you have had traditional French toast. This is the standard form of cinnamon sold in the United States. It has a bittersweet flavor. Originally from Indonesia, Korintje Cassia comes from a slightly larger tree and is cut from the tree in sheets near the base of the tree. We find this variety of cinnamon almost anywhere in powder or in bark rolls.
Vietnamese Saigon Cassia Cinnamon
Cinnamomum loureiroi. Vietnamese cinnamon has a higher oil content than the other varieties and is therefore much spicier. In Vietnam, this variety is added to traditional cooking in the form of the bark. In the U.S., Vietnamese Saigon Cassia is used in specialty bakeries in cinnamon rolls and apple pie since the added spice gives these pastries a unique flavor.
As we said at the outset, cinnamon is known to us in America primarily as a cooking and baking spice. But cinnamon has been used as a traditional medicine in other cultures for centuries. We now know that cinnamon has numerous benefits beyond its great taste. Here are some of the benefits of cinnamon.
Loaded with antioxidants
Antioxidants work to neutralize and remove free radicals that can cause cancer. Cinnamon is loaded with chemicals called polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants. In one study cinnamon was shown to have more antioxidant properties than any other natural source. The high concentrations of these polyphenols in cinnamon accounts for why cinnamon has historically been used as a natural food preservative.
Inflammation is a natural and necessary response as our bodies fight infections. However, inflammation becomes problematic when it becomes chronic and directed against our own physiological systems and tissues. Cinnamon has been shown to work as an effective anti-inflammatory agent and can help fight the symptoms of certain autoimmune conditions.
Helps fight heart disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of premature death around the world. Cinnamon helps reduce the risk of heart disease in several ways.
Research has shown that cinnamon can cut down the blood markers symptomatic of diabetes. Just one gram of cinnamon reduces the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Cinnamon has also been shown to reduce LDL blood levels. This is the so-called “bad cholesterol.” It does this while stabilizing HDL, or good cholesterol.
Finally, some studies have shown that a small dose of cinnamon can also lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.
Since all of these benefits are derived from a simple one-gram dose of cinnamon, we see that cinnamon may be one of the most effective natural remedies to help prevent heart disease.
Helps control insulin levels
In addition to reducing the blood makers symptomatic of type 2 diabetes, cinnamon is known to help regulate insulin in the bloodstream. What happens in type 2 diabetes is people develop the inability to properly resist insulin even though insulin is necessary for transporting sugar in the bloodstream. This is called insulin resistance. Cinnamon can help reduce insulin resistance, this can help cut back on the amount of medications diabetics need to control their condition.
May help with neurodegenerative disorders
The two most common neurodegenerative disorders are Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Both of these disorders cause the progressive loss of brain cells and neurological functions.
Two important chemicals found in cinnamon have been shown to reduce the accumulation of tau proteins in the brain which is the protein that is linked to both Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. One study showed that cinnamon can help protect neurons and normalize neurotransmitter functions.
Antimicrobial and antifungal
One of the primary components of cinnamon is a chemical called cinnamaldehyde. This is known to help fight infections. What is more, this same chemical can also fight fungal infections.
Cinnamon oil is an effective treatment for many upper respiratory infections.
It is known that cinnamon can inhibit the growth of two common pathogens: Listeria and Salmonella. Cinnamon can also help prevent tooth decay and bad breath.
Perhaps this accounts for the fact that cinnamon has been used as a natural medicine for such a long time.
The studies on cinnamon and cancer are still in the test tube trials, but the early findings are promising. Scientists are testing cinnamon in several ways to examine its cancer-fighting potential.
So far it appears that cinnamon acts to reduce the growth of cancer cells. This inhibits the ways cancer cells form in the blood and therefore inhibits the ability of cancer cells to take hold in the body.
Early studies show that cinnamon works to detoxify cells in the colon and this has the effect of stopping the formation of colon cancer. Since cinnamon has a high level of natural antioxidants, these chemicals work to stop the generation of cancerous growth in the colon. These studies are still in the preliminary stages, but they show great promise for the use of cinnamon in fighting cancer.
Cinnamon and Weight Loss
Since cinnamon has such a powerful flavor it can reduce cravings for things like sugar and carbohydrates without substituting more of the same. This alone can help with weight loss. Instead of adding sugar to foods and drinks, a small amount of cinnamon can provide similar flavors.
The anti-inflammatory properties of cinnamon will help process foods more efficiently. By making the digestive system work with greater efficiency, you are less likely to hold onto excess calories.
Since cinnamon has a profound effect on the ways that sugars are processed in the body, including the regulation of insulin, this too can help process calories and help reduce weight.
A typical dose of ground cinnamon is 1-3 grams per day. Since the therapeutic effects of cinnamon are roughly the same for all the benefits listed above, this dosage remains constant for any reason you may take ground cinnamon.
Do not take more than 4 grams of cinnamon per day since this can lead to adverse health effects.
Side effects of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is generally recognized as safe for anyone. However, there are some potential adverse effects of cinnamon.
Large quantities of cinnamon (over 4 grams per day) can lead to increased heart rate, intestinal problems, increased respiratory rate, and perspiration. These accelerated functions can lead to sleepiness and depression.
Some people can have skin reactions with contact with cinnamon. This can take the form of contact dermatitis.
Finally, people who are sensitive to cinnamon can also develop mucosal lesions or sores in their mouths. This is often associated with cinnamon chewing gum and candy.
What is cinnamon?
Cinnamon, as we commonly know it, is made from the bark of a tree native to tropical regions but now cultivated around the world. It is an aromatic and bittersweet spice used in cooking and for medicinal purposes.
What are the properties of cinnamon?
Cinnamon naturally contains cinnamaldehyde and trans-cinnamaldehyde. These are present on the essential oil found in cinnamon bark and are responsible for most of the aromatic and medicinal properties. of the major constituents of essential oil extracted cinnamaldehyde is the principal compound responsible for this activity.
Are there different types of cinnamon?
There are three primary types of cinnamon: Ceylon Cinnamon, Korintje Cassia Cinnamon, and Vietnamese Saigon Cassia Cinnamon. All contain approximately the same chemical components, although the last on the list is generally the spiciest.
Are there health benefits to cinnamon?
Cinnamon has been shown to be a powerful antimicrobial and antifungal, it can help regulate blood sugar, and cinnamon has been shown to combat neurodegenerative disorders.
How much cinnamon should I take for medicinal purposes?
The common dose of natural powdered cinnamon is 1-3 grams per day. This remains constant for medicinal uses. Do not exceed 4 grams of cinnamon per day.
Are there side effects to cinnamon? Taking too much cinnamon can increase heart rate, respiration, and may lead to sleepiness. People who are sensitive to cinnamon can develop skin and mouth irritation with contact with cinnamon oils.
Common ordinary cinnamon, the powder we sprinkle on French toast and buttered bread, is also a powerful medicine. Most of us know about the flavorful appeal of cinnamon. It is also extremely versatile. Cinnamon works just well in pastries and baked goods as it does for savory dishes. From cakes to steaks.
Cinnamon has been a major part of many traditional medicine practices. It has long been used by natural healers for everything from toothaches to infections. In recent years, medical science has caught up with these traditional practices.
We now know that cinnamon is effective in treating infections because it contains antimicrobial and antifungal agents. The complex oils that naturally occur in cinnamon are also powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents. Cinnamon has even been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and combat the progression of neurodegenerative disorders. There is even early evidence to suggest that cinnamon may protect against cancer.
Cinnamon, as it turns out, is far more than a fun addition to breakfast pastries. Cinnamon is also a natural miracle medicine.