If you are a health and wellness buff and you are yet to discover the goodness of cinnamon?
Well, as they say…”you are on a long thing”. With its distinct fragrance and warm, earthy taste…it is quite difficult to miss.
Not to worry though, this article will boost your knowledge and most certainly make you a bona fide convert.
Lets start with the definition, shall we?
Cinnamon as we know it is a spice derived from the inner barks of the cinnamon tree (Cinnamomum verum OR Cinnamomum zeylanicum) and could well be one of the oldest known spices as it dates way back to the bible days and was used to embalm bodies in ancient Egypt. Sold either in powder, oil or stick form, it is rich in fiber, iron, calcium, manganese, and zinc. Commonly used both in food, drinks and for medicinal purposes; it can also “triple” as a food preservative. Did you know, that its pleasant fragrance as well as its natural plumping or “swelling” properties on the lips makes it a hit in the cosmetic world?
According to researchers, out of twenty-six of the most popular herbs and medicinal spices in the world, cinnamon actually ranks #1 in terms of its protective antioxidant levels. There are however 2 types of cinnamon namely the Ceylon and the Cassia cinnamon; and it is important you take note of them.
CEYLON cinnamon also referred to as the Real Cinnamon, is light brown and soft in texture with a much sweeter fragrance. In stick form, it has many folds and is widely purported to have more health benefits than Cassia.
CASSIA cinnamon on the other hand is the more common variety, it’s brown to reddish-brown in color and has a hot and pungent taste. In stick form, it folds inward and has an empty cavity in the center. Cassia is usually lower in price than Ceylon and also contains higher levels of coumarin, which can have a negative effect on the liver if consumed way too often.
These two generally have the same benefits, and the Cassia is okay so long it is not ingested more than 1 – 2 teaspoons daily. They are both high in a substance called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for most of their health benefits.
NOW, THE BENEFITS
- It lowers blood sugar and has a high anti-diabetic effect: It does this by interfering with numerous digestive enzymes, which slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract. It has the ability to mimic insulin thereby greatly improving glucose uptake by cells, even though it acts much slower than insulin itself. The effective dose is typically 1-6 grams of cinnamon per day (around 0.5-2 teaspoons).
- It boosts dental care and naturally freshens breath: The essential oil from cinnamon has been shown to be more potent than other tested plant extracts and can be used to naturally combat bacteria in the mouth, acting like a natural anti-bacterial mouthwash. Because it removes oral bacteria, it has the ability to naturally remove bad breath without adding any chemicals to the body. For this reason it has also been traditionally used as tooth powder and to treat toothaches, dental problems, oral microbiota, and mouth sores. it can also used as a natural flavoring agent in chewing gums due to its mouth refreshing abilities. Cinnamon may ease tooth pain until you can see a dentist.
- It boosts heart health by reducing risks of heart attacks: The special compounds in cinnamon are able to help reduce levels of total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides, while HDL “good” cholesterol remains stable. It has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure, which is another threat for causing heart disease or a stroke. Research shows that cinnamon is a helpful blood coagulant and prevents bleeding by helping the body to form blood clots. It also increases blood circulation and advances bodily tissue’s ability to repair itself after it’s been damaged. This includes heart tissue, which is in need of regeneration in order to help fight heart attacks, heart disease and stroke.
- It has high levels of anti-oxidants: In a study that compared the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, cinnamon wound up as the clear winner, even outranking “superfoods” like garlic and oregano
- It fights infections and viruses: Cinnamon is a natural anti-microbial, anti-biotic, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent. The immune-boosting abilities oare found in it’s essential oils which also have protective abilities against various bacteria which can cause negative symptoms in the digestive tract, on the surface of the skin, and can lead to colds or the flu.
- It can be used to treat attention deficiency hyperactive disorder (ADHD): In a study regarding the effects of aromatherapy on children with ADHD, results indicated that cinnamon may help calm those suffering from ADHD. Symptoms of ADHD include becoming easily distracted, daydreaming, difficulty sitting for a long period of time, difficulty keeping organized, forgetfulness, general inattention, fidgeting or unable to keep still, excessive talking, impatience, anxiety, procrastination, and difficulty concentrating.
- It can be a natural sweetener in recipes: Cinnamon already has anti-diabetic effects that slow sugar from releasing into the blood stream which can help manage food cravings and weight gain, but using it for its taste is another added benefit. One of the benefits over sugar is that it contains no sugar and no calories in amounts that it is used by most people, so its makes an extremely healthy addition to many meals, especially considering its many nutrients. Try using it in coffee, tea, baked goods, yogurt, on fruit, or in oatmeal instead of adding extra sugar and calories. This can help you to reduce inflammation-causing sugar, extra calories, and to fight weight gain, candida, diabetes and low energy levels.
- It boosts skin health: Applying cinnamon essential oil directly to the skin can be helpful in reducing inflammation, swelling, pain, and redness. Often paired with honey, another antimicrobial ingredient, they are frequently used together to boost skin health for this reason and are beneficial for acne, rosacea, and signs of skin allergies.
- It can be used for weight loss: It decreases blood sugar, which is important for losing weight. Cinnamon also controls insulin levels, which aid in speeding up the metabolism. When your metabolism level is high, it will be able to store healthy carbohydrates for energy without turning them into fat.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties: The antioxidants in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, brain function decline and more. Because cinnamon lowers swelling and inflammation, it can be beneficial in pain management, with studies showing that it helps to relive muscle soreness, PMS pains, severity of allergic reactions and other age-related symptoms of pain too
- It can fight menstrual cramps: this is possible due to the fiber, manganese, and calcium found in cinnamon. One study used cinnamon to combat premenstrual pain and found the severity of this pain was reduced significantly in the subjects.
DISCLAIMER: always consult with your doctor before undertaking any treatment. Natural or otherwise.