Cinnamon has long been considered a “wonder food” in various cultures and science has shown that its active oil components such as cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol do convey certain health benefits.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
There are two main types of cinnamon:
- Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon cinnamon), most commonly used in the Western world.
- Cinnamomum aromaticum (Cassia cinnamon or Chinese cinnamon), which originates from southern China, is typically less expensive than Ceylon cinnamon.
While medical research is varied as to the extent of cinnamon’s health benefits and the jury’s still out as to whether cinnamon can truly combat disease, cinnamon does have a therapeutic role in certain ailments such as digestive troubles and minor bacterial infections or colds.
1. Cold and Flu
Add cinnamon to warm drinks to reduce cold and flu effects. Cinnamon’s oils and nutrient composition can reduce the symptoms of the virus.
- Add one to two teaspoons of ground cinnamon to a steaming hot cup of green tea or cider. Add lemon juice to help combat a respiratory infection.
- Add one to two teaspoons of ground cinnamon to your coffee before brewing. It gives the coffee a nice cinnamon flavor and is an easy way to incorporate cinnamon into your diet.
- A dash or two of cinnamon added to soups such as lentil or black bean may add an exotic flavor, plus provide the warming goodness may bring relief to those feeling under the weather.
2. Sore Throat and Cough
At the first sign (within 5-10 minutes) of sniffles or an itch in your throat take some cinnamon tea. It is said to stop an impending illness in its tracks.
- Again this is related to the anti bacterial properties and warming properties of cinnamon and its propensity to increase blood flow and thereby improve blood oxygen levels to fight illness.
- Chinese traditional medicine commonly recommends cinnamon for phlegm coughs.
3. Blood Sugar Levels
Season a high carb food with cinnamon to lower the impact it will have on blood sugar levels. Research shows that cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, lowering blood sugar after eating. A study conducted at Malmo University Hospital examined how 14 subject’s stomachs emptied after eating rice pudding laced with cinnamon. Scientists concluded that the rice pudding lowered the gastric emptying rate from 37% to 34.5% and reduced blood sugar levels after eating.
- A study published in 2009 suggests that taking/eating cinnamon twice a day for 90 consecutive days can improve blood sugar levels.
- If you have diabetes, consult with your physician about the impact of cinnamon on your levels. Also, never substitute cinnamon for insulin.
4. Heart Disease Prevention
Preventing heart disease is one of the best health benefits of cinnamon. Cinnamon is an excellent source of calcium and fiber. The combination of the two components binds and removes bile salts from the body–salts that have a damaging effect on the colon. When the bile is removed the body, it has to break down cholesterol to generate new bile, having a positive impact on atherosclerosis and heart disease prevention.
- Although cinnamon tastes delightful when mixed with baked goods, skip the cookies and cakes in order to obtain the true health benefits and not counteract the impact of cinnamon on heart disease.
5. Brain Functions
Smell cinnamon for boosted brain function. According to a study authored by Dr. P. Zoladz, simply smelling cinnamon can boost cognitive processing.
- Chewing cinnamon flavored gum or smelling fresh cinnamon has an impact on stimulating brain function.
Tap into cinnamon benefits to act as an anticoagulant. Cinnamaldehyde, one of cinnamon’s active oils, has been researched for its effects on blood platelets and it’s anti-clumping impact.
- Don’t consume more than the recommended amount of cinnamon a day, especially if you have a blood disorder. High levels can lower your platelet levels, which can create uncontrollable bleeding.
- Avoid eating cinnamon before surgery and tell your physician about any cinnamon consumption.
Decrease inflammation with cinnamon. Cinnamon can lower the release of arachidonic acid from cell membranes, which acts as an anti-inflammatory.
8. Candida Yeast Infections
Cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections. This applies to Escherichia coli bacteria and Candida albicans fungus. This study discovered that cinnamon oil was one of three leading essential oils effective against Candida. A second study found that cinnamon oil was effective against three strains of Candida, Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, and Candida krusei.
- Real Ceylon cinnamon tea infused with cinnamon bark oil could be an excellent way to fight internal Candida infections and boost your immune system.
- For topical applications (except genital areas and mucous membranes) 1% Ceylon cinnamon leaf oil mixed with a carrier oil could be an extremely effective treatment option.
Cinnamon’s powerful anti fungal properties are the perfect natural alternative to killing the athletes foot fungus.
- You can use Cinnamon sticks or even better a few drops of powerful Ceylon Cinnamon Leaf Oil (not to exceed 1% cinnamon oil to water) and soak your feet.
- Usually good results in three days with the oil. Similar results for toe nail fungus.
10. Digestive Aid
- Try a cinnamon tea after a meal.
11. Odor Neutralizer
Pure cinnamon leaf oil not only smells great but is an effective odor neutralizer as it kills bacteria that creates bad odors and not just mask odors.
- All you need is 2-5 drops of cinnamon leaf oil mixed with water on a diffuser and within minutes all odors are neutralized.
- Alternatively spray diluted cinnamon leaf oil and wipe down toilets, floors and kitchen counter tops, garbage cans and the interior of vehicles to rapidly remove foul odors. Far better than any chemical sprays.
- It also has the effect of improving your mood. Especially great as a cure for the winter blues.
How to Select and Store Cinnamon
Select and store cinnamon for the freshness. Available in both stick and powder form, cinnamon should be handled with care to obtain the highest amount of potency.
- Seal cinnamon in a tightly sealed glass container and store in a cool, dark, dry place. Use a jelly jar or canning materials for best results.
- Ground cinnamon can be kept fresh for up to six months. Cinnamon sticks may stay fresh for up to one year.
- Extend cinnamon’s shelf life by storing the spice in the refrigerator in a well-sealed container.
- Smell the cinnamon to check for freshness. Make sure it has a sweet smell — a true indicator that it is fresh.
- Choose organically grown cinnamon to ensure that it has not been irradiated. Irradiating cinnamon may lead to a decrease in its vitamin C and carotenoid content.
How to Consume Cinnamon
Consume between 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon a day to experience the health benefits of cinnamon. Depending on the reason for taking cinnamon therapeutically, some researchers believe that as little as ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon (2 to 4 grams) of ground cinnamon (either pre-ground or hand ground from a stick) provides enough of a benefit. Here are some ways to consume cinnamon:
- Cinnamon can be baked into a dish or sprinkled on top of food.
- Eating raw cinnamon may have a harsh taste and may be more palatable when mixed with food or drinks.
- While mixing cinnamon in cold drinks or food provides the same health benefits as mixing it with hot dishes, cold food does not absorb the spice and may be more difficult to consume.