For thousands of years, cinnamon has been used by different people for both culinary and medicinal purposes and at a point in time, its value was pegged above gold. It has a distinctly sweet, warming taste and is a valuable culinary staple in many homes and kitchens around the world today.
Cinnamon has been used thousands of years back dating back over 4,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt and has been reported to have lots of health benefits including its ability to fight illness(1).
Back then, cinnamon was rare and was often given as a gift to royalty and was sold at a very high cost.
Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree and is often harvested and curls into quills and let to dry curling into a stick-like form hence its name cinnamon stick. It can also come from the leafy part of the tree(2).
Cinnamon comes in different varieties, in hundreds but 4 are commonly used out of which two are most popular
- The cassia type, with a rich mahogany hue and carries a pungent, slightly bittersweet flavor said to be native to China and is mostly used in the USA and Canada.
- The Ceylon, with a more sweeter, and more refined flavor and is slightly off-colored unlike the Cassia type and is the second most used cinnamon especially in Europe, Parts of Asia and Mexico.
The remaining two are not so rampantly used, and they are
- Saigon Cinnamon.
- Korintje Cinnamon.
These are not so popular and are used by few people around the world and statistics shows they amounted to only 10% of global Cinnamon consumption.
Cinnamon Forms And Usage.
Cinnamon comes in different forms and is used in different forms and ways. Both the bark and leafy side of cinnamon are harvested and processed into a usable form.
The parts of the cinnamon tree that can be used either as a cinnamon spice or cinnamon oil are.
- Cinnamon chips make from the bark of the cinnamon tree.
- Bark from the cinnamon tree trunk rolled into sticks-like rolls.
- The bark of the cinnamon tree trunk that is grounded into Cinnamon powder.
- The Cinnamon tree leaf stream-distilled into an oil.
These are the parts of the tree usually harvested and processed into any of the commercial or consumable forms of
- Cinnamon Powder.
- Cinnamon Oil.
- Cinnamon Sticks.
Nutritional And Health Benefits Of Cinnamon.
Cinnamon is probably the most important spice used all over the world. In the past, cinnamon was used for various medicinal purposes and today, scientific research into the components and of cinnamon has brought to the fore its medicinal and health benefits and that has skyrocketed its usage across the world.
Today, Cinnamon is been sold as dietary supplements in tablets/capsules, teas, and powders extracts and whatever form its sold, its health benefits remain the same.
Cinnamon contains different kinds protective antioxidants in abundant quantity. One of the major functions of antioxidants is that it protects the body against oxidative damage which in most cases is caused by free radicals. Taking cinnamon in whatever form means you are protecting your body against these free radicals.
A study was conducted that compared the Antioxidant activity of cinnamon with 26 other top spices all over the world including garlic, thyme, rosemary, and oregano and cinnamon came top in overall content of Antioxidant(3).
Another study was conducted by OTAC in which the Antioxidants concentration of top food spices was measure and cinnamon was found #7 overall.
Polyphenols, phenolic acid, and flavonoids are some of the powerful Antioxidants found in cinnamon and they are somewhat similar to those found in other super foods like berries, dark chocolate, and of course, red wine.
Overall, the Antioxidant property of cinnamon works together to prevent symptoms of diseases and disease-causing pathogens.
Although inflammation in the body is said to be ok and cool, however, chronic or long-term inflammation can become a worrying health challenge, and cinnamon has been proven to contain loads of anti-inflammatory properties cable of curtailing the bad effect of long-term inflammation.
Studies reviewed that the different flavonoid compounds of cinnamon contain anti-inflammatory properties that are capable of fighting, through the activities of antioxidants, various kinds of inflammations in the body.
The anti-inflammatory action of cinnamon can benefit in some many areas like lower the risk of cancer, brain function decline, relief pains and lots of other age-related pains.
3. Help Lower Blood Sugar and Fight Diabetes.
Studies reviewed that cinnamon can help improve the secretion of insulin and lower blood glucose. In addition, cinnamon has been shown through series of clinical trials to have anti-diabetes properties and works fine in treating type 11 diabetes(4).
The study reviewed that cinnamon extract can improve insulin sensitivity especial in the brain region and improve blood glucose concentration. It works by balancing up the glucose level in the blood through the action of an enzyme called alanines which allows for easy sugar absorption in the blood.
Diabetes comes when there is low secretion of insulin or when there is insulin resistance in the blood but with cinnamon helping the corresponding enzymes balance things up alongside its action of interfering with certain digestive enzymes that slow down the breakdown of glucose and carbohydrate, the risk of diabetes is reduced.
4.Cinnamon May Protect And Improve Heart Health.
Through the action of lowering Bad LBP, cinnamon may help eliminate the many common risk of heart disease like high blood pressure, high cholesterol level, high triglyceride level, high blood glucose that can cause not only heart bdisease but diabetes.
Cinnamon contains compounds taught to be effective in lowering the level of bad cholesterol while helping to balance the level of good cholesterol.
High blood pressure if left unchecked may result to chronic Heart disease and stroke, Cinnamon can effectively check the development of High Blood Pressure.
Cinnamon is also said to improve blood circulation and boost blood clotting.
5. Boost Brain Function And Fight Cognitive Decline.
Research reviewed that,the numerous protective antioxidants compounds of cinnamonn can protect the brain against developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases and other neurogical disorders(5).
Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease (PD) are the first and second major widespread neurodegenerative disorders respectively and are prevalent in people 65 years and older
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cinnamon protects the brain damage from free radicals and against age-related cognitive decline.
Cinnamon also boost the health of the brain by helping to inhibit the build up of certain protein known to cause neurodegenerative diseasea by activating neuro-protective proteins that help in stopping brain damage from oxidative stress(6).
6. Lower The Risk Of Cancer.
Certain types of cancers like the colon cancer can be checked with cinnamon, studies reviewed. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in cinnamon can protect against turmor, cell mutation, DNA damage and all kinds of cancerous cell growth including helping the overgrown tissues to self-destruct.
7. Cinnamon May Help Treat Irritable Bowel Movements, IBS And Other GIs.
Cinnamon may help tackle gastointestinal challenges like Irritable Bowel Syndrom, IBS, Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth-SIBO, and other Gastointestinal Disorders through its action of cleansing the colon and itestinal wall(7).
IBS and al the symptoms associated with it like bloating, stomach upset, gas, diarrhea etc, can be eliminated with cinnamon.
Cinnamon may also help get rid of harmful bacteria in the intestinal wall and improve the health of the gastrointestinal region.
8.Fights Infections And Viruses With Its Antibiotic Properties.
Cinnamon essential oil contains some immune boosting properties that also help fight diffeerent kinds of infections, bacteria, vira or fungi infections(8).
Cinnamon is believed to be a natural anti-biotic, anti-microbia and anti-fungal and anti-fungi agent that helps fight as well as defent the body against attack by these infection causing agents.
9.Prevent And Treat Yeast Infections Like Candida.
Yeast infections like candida strain result from an overgrowth of fungus or yeast, and the powerful anti-fungal component of cinnamon helps treat as well as prevent candida which is the most prevalent type of yeast infection.
Cinnamon before long had been used as treatment for various kinds of illness including treatment for infectious disease like candida and other infections.
Modern reasearch into the anti-microbial properties of cinnamon has been all positive as it reviewed its effect on bacteria and virus infections.
Cinnamon oil has been found to be more effective than most pharmaceutical prescribed drugs especially when dealing with drugs resistant pathogens like Pseudomonas aeruginosa which has been found to resist drugs but respond positively to cinnamon oil(9).
10. Fight And Prevent Tooth Decay.
If you have been fighting mouth odor as a result of tooth decay caused by bacteria or virus infection, cinnamon oil might be the needed solution.
A comparative stidy was conducted between cinnamon oil and clove oil to see which is more effective in protecting the teeth against bacteria living in the oral microflora and could cause tooth decay or mouth odor and cinnamon oil was found more effective than clove oil.
For its protective effects on oral health, mostcompanies producing chewing gum use cinnamon as a natural flavoring agent in chewing gums, besides, its has a warm refreshing ability.Spearmint tea and peppermint tea are other natural spices with similar effects or oral health as cinnamon.
Interesting Facts About Cinnamon.
Apart from the amazing health and medicinal benefits of cinnamon listed above which is not even half of what this wonderful spice termed spice of life is capable of doing, there are some amazing facts wraped round cinnamon that many users have not known.
Lets look at some of the few facts about cinnamon.
- Cinnamon is produced and sold the most in Sri Lanka, they are the biggest producers of cinnamon.
- Cinnamon had for long and is still been used as natural cure for ailments and it contains contains fiber, iron, calcium, manganese, and zinc for your healthy wellbeing.
- Cinnamon was used in Ancient Egypt as an embalming agent.
- Cinnamon contains antimicrobial properties and can be used as preservative agent in food preservation.
- Cinnamon tree have a lifespan of forty years especially when grwon in the wild.