15 Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Cinnamon plant is a small evergreen tree that belongs to the family Lauracea. The cinnamon tree is native to China, India, Sri lanka, and Myanmar, and is now cultivated throughout the world.
Cinnamon is harvested from the inner bark of cinnamomum trees. The inside of the bark is then dried and cut into sticks (called “quills”) or crushed into a powder.
Cinnamon is one of the oldest and most popular spices in the world. Although there are many subspecies of cinnamon, they can be divided into two main categories: Ceylon cinnamon (also known as “true” cinnamon) and Cassia cinnamon.
Ceylon cinnamon is more expensive, light brown in color, and softer in appearance. While Cassia cinnamon is less expensive and has a stronger taste and smell than Ceylon cinnamon. Cassia is the most commonly sold cinnamon in the United States.
Cinnamon is used as an ingredient in many dishes around the world. In North America and Europe, cinnamon is used in flavoring most desserts, including cakes, cookies, pies, candies, and pudding. In the Middle East and China, it is used to flavor meat and rice dishes.
Apart from being used as a spice and flavoring agent, cinnamon has long been used in traditional Asian medicine to treat various ailments like heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders, menstrual discomfort, respiratory problems, etc.
The active ingredient in cinnamon is a substance called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for most of the health benefits.
Cinnamon contains huge amounts of polyphenol antioxidants. The antioxidants in cinnamon have been found to have antibacterial, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory effects. It’s also high in manganese, fiber, calcium, and iron, which are essential nutrients for human health.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
1. Reduce cancer risk
Since cinnamon has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it can help in reducing the risk of cancer.
Studies have revealed that cinnamaldehyde – a substance found in cinnamon – could inhibit cancer tumor growth and protect DNA from damage, while also encouraging cancerous cells to self-destruct called apoptosis .
A study in mice with colon cancer revealed that cinnamon to be a potent activator of detoxifying enzymes in the colon, protecting against further cancer growth .
2. Control blood sugar
It has been suggested that cinnamon can has a positive effect in the management of type 2 diabetes.
One study suggest that cinnamon can be great for those with insulin resistance because it may help certain individuals control their blood sugar .
A clinical study published in the Diabetes Care journal in 2003 found that people with type 2 diabetes who took 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon daily for 40 days reported a reduction in blood sugar by 18-29 percent and a decrease in triglycerides by 23-30 percent .
3. Prevent Alzheimer’s disease
Recent studies have shown that cinnamon may be able to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
One study shows that two compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease .
Tau proteins can form clumps or tangles in the brain which researchers think the main culprit of the disease. The compounds found in cinnamon have been shown to prevent these clumps from occurring, and thus, preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Reduce heart disease risk
Studies have shown that another health benefit of cinnamon is that it reduces some of the most common risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels and high blood pressure .
The special compounds in cinnamon are able to help reduce levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while maintain good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Cinnamon has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure .
5. Bad breath remedy
Bad breath is often caused by bacteria build up in the mouth and cinnamon’s antibacterial properties may help remove bad breath by killing odor inducing bacteria in your mouth and teeth.
Mix half teaspoon of cinnamon, one and a half teaspoon of honey (which also has antibacterial and anti-microbial properties) and a cup of warm water. Fill it in a bottle and gargle one mouthful once or twice a day.
6. Relieve arthritis pain
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, cinnamon helps in relieving arthritis pain and stiffness of the muscles and joints.
In fact, a study at Copenhagen University showed that patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
7. Boost immune system
Honey and cinnamon paste is good for boosting the immune system and increasing the lifespan of people. This is partially due to the antioxidants found in both honey and cinnamon which can combat the free radicals in the body.
8. Treat respiratory problems
The combination of cinnamon and honey has been used for centuries as an effective remedy for many respiratory issues.
Make a glass of lukewarm honey water mixed with a pinch of cinnamon powder to treat common colds and flu. It is also helpful in clearing the sinuses.
9. Aid in digestion
Consuming cinnamon and honey on a regular basis can also improve digestion. It soothes and calms the stomach and intestines, improving the colon function by reducing gas and relieving the flatulence. It also helps to relieve diarrhea, nausea and constipation.
Make a glass of lukewarm honey water mixed with a pinch of cinnamon powder. Take this mixture before your meals to prevent digestive problems.
10. Relieve menstrual cramps
Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve pain caused due to menstrual cramps.
You can consume it in raw form or by sprinkling it on your salads. you can also add a pinch of cinnamon powder to honey and mix it along in warm water. Drink it thrice a day on the initial day of your menstrual period to experience relief from cramps.
11. Promote weight loss
Since cinnamon helps control your blood sugar levels, your body will store less fat and you will gradually lose weight.
All you need to do is to consume one or two cups of cinnamon tea per day. To make the tea, add ½-1 tsp of cinnamon powder to 2 cups of boiling water. Let it steep for 10-15 minutes and then add 2 tsp of pure honey into it.
For best result, sip a cup of cinnamon tea twice a day – early morning and before going to bed. Do not reheat the concoction as it can destroy the nutrients present in the honey.
12. Treat urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Cinnamon contains antifungal and anti-bacterial properties which suppresses the E.coli bacteria, causing urinary tract infections. Numerous clinical studies have also confirmed its effects on killing bacteria .
13. Fight acne
Both cinnamon and honey can help reduce acne symptoms and prevent infections, due to their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Also, honey keeps your skin moisturized and prevents clogged pores, one of the causes of acne.
Mix ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder with 1 teaspoon of honey. Apply the mixture on the acne-affected area and leave it for about 10 minutes, and then wash it off with warm water. Repeat it once or twice a day.
14. Relieve toothache
A simple paste made with cinnamon and honey can help provide toothache relief. Mix one teaspoon of cinnamon powder with 5 teaspoons of honey, then apply a small amount of this paste directly onto the aching tooth.
Store the remainder in a small container at room temperature. Continue to apply a small amount to the aching tooth 2 or 3 times per day until the pain is relieved.
15. Prevent HIV infection
Cinnamon may also be used to prevent HIV infection. A laboratory study looking at the effectiveness of 69 different medicinal plants against the HIV-1 and HIV-2 viruses, cinnamon was found to be one of the most effective. It has been proven to prevent the HIV virus from entering and infecting cells .
Selection and Storage
When buying cinnamon, go for cinnamon sticks instead of its powder since it loses its flavour quickly. The cinnamon should have a sweet smell, an indication that it is fresh.
Cinnamon should be kept in a sealed container in a cool, dry place. Ground cinnamon powder will keep for six months, while cinnamon sticks stored tightly will last for a year before freshness and flavor begin to fade.
Keep your cinnamon away from direct sunlight or heat sources and be sure to seal your container tightly when not in use.
Cassia cinnamon contains significant amounts of coumarin and this could cause kidney and liver problems if consumed in excess. Pregnant and breast feeding women should avoid using high doses of cinnamon bark or cinnamon oil.
If you are taking prescription drugs, particularly blood clotting, diabetes or hepatotoxic drugs, check with your doctor first before taking cinnamon because it could interact with the medications.