Cinnamon is likely in your pantry right now and may be beneficial to your health! Why? Who can it help? How much should I take?
Cinnamon has been cited throughout history for its antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties. In some older literature many thought it was able to cure the plague. Numerous sources claim that it has anti-cancer properties, anti-aging benefits. It has been shown to be a powerful anti-oxidant. Also we know cinnamon contains polyphenols, flavanoids and phenolic acid. These are all compounds that can be important in reducing free radical damage and anti-aging.
Let’s remember medicine started from herbs and plants. It should be no surprise cinnamon is a part of this.
Forms of Cinnamon
It is important to note that not all cinnamon is the same. There are two main types of Cinnamon:
- Ceyllon is a milder, more expensive form and comes from Sri Lanka.
- Cassia is sweeter, more fragrant and comes from China.
Interestingly Cassia cinnamon – most commonly found in the United States – is not as good for us and also may contain more dangerous and toxic chemicals at higher doses. An easy source of the ceyllon variety is from amazon:
Cinnamon to treat diabetes
The strongest evidence to use cinnamon is with Diabetes. Two small studies showed a reduction of blood sugar in type 2 diabetics taking 1 gram of cinnamon a day when compared to a group that took none. The amount of the blood sugar reduction was significant–so much that it was comparable to using an oral diabetic drug. Unfortunately, the study size was small with only 18 patients. Another study of 60 people showed a similar reduction in blood surger as well as a reduction in LDL cholesterol and trigycerides suggesting a heart benefit as well. The best part was that the doses in these studies were small – only 1 -3 teaspoons of cinnamon sprinkled on your food daily were needed. The FDA cautions against doses higher than 6 grams because of liver toxicity.
It’s worth seeking out the Ceylon cinnamon if you are Diabetic. Despite the loose evidence supporting its use, the American Diabetic Association does not currently recommend the use of cinnamon in treatment. They cite a meta-analysis (a review of many studies) in 2013 meta-analysis showed no impact on a patient’s HgbA1C. Personally, I recommend it to my diabetic patients. Try 1/2 a teaspoon sprinted on oatmeal or in your black coffee.
New uses of cinnamon
There are ongoing studies on the benefits of cinnamon in Alzheimer’s dementia. One study has shown that it could prevent the HIV virus from entering cells in a similar fashion to current advanced medical treatments (AZT).
So the potential is high for this sweet-smelling spice! Just remember do not stop taking your current meds unless directed by your doctor. There is still NO evidence for capsules or high dose cinnamon. A sprinkle a day may have some benefits and little harm.