10 Surprising Benefits of Cinnamon
Cinnamon has been utilized for a variety of different uses by humans for thousands of years. A dominant player in the Spice Trade, this spice was highly sought after by both royalty and peasants alike in many areas of the world during Antiquity and the Middle Ages.
Today, this spice is much more accessible and cost effective, but still one of the most popular spices in the world. Due to its popularity, it should come as no surprise that there are a variety of different health and wellness benefits associated with cinnamon.
What are the different types of cinnamon?
While there are four different types of cinnamon, the two most common types are Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon. (1)
Cassia cinnamon is what is found most often in the United States, whereas Ceylon cinnamon is more commonly used throughout the rest of the world. Ceylon cinnamon is grown in Sri Lanka and has a sweeter, more subtle spice to it. Cassia cinnamon is much cheaper, is grown in China, and is what most Americans think of when they think of cinnamon.
Beyond the taste difference in cooking, Ceylon, compared to Cassia, has much lower levels of coumarin, a substance that taken in small amounts does not harm humans. However, when used regularly for long periods of time, Cassia cinnamon has enough coumarin to lead to damage and organ failure of the liver and kidneys. (2) There is also evidence that cassia does not contain all of the properties mentioned below. That is why Ceylon should be utilized for any long-term health benefits mentioned in this article.
1. Cinnamon Combats Bacterial and Viral Infections Alike
Antibiotics, while vital for fighting serious bacterial infections, can sometimes do more harm than good and in some cases, may not even serve useful in combatting viral infections. These drugs wipe out essential floral and fauna in the digestive tract, and due to over-prescription by doctors and improper use by patients, there are more antibiotic resistant bacteria than ever.
When consuming cinnamon, it is actually the bark of the tree that is being ingested. The bark protects the tree from predators, including animals, insects, and infectious agents. Therefore, when used by humans, it is useful for the prevention of illnesses, in addition to helping to fight off illnesses after they have taken hold in the body.
Studies have found that consuming both cinnamon essential oil as well as using cinnamon regularly to flavor food can help prevent and fight off infections without the harsh after effects of antibiotics. (3)
Cinnamon essential oil is also an ingredient that many utilize in homeopathic hand sanitizer, along with the essential oil of cloves, rosemary, and orange.
2. Cinnamon Combats Pests
Anyone with a child can attest to the sense of dread upon hearing of a lice outbreak in a classroom or school. It can also be worrisome to use over-the-counter treatments for lice, due to the strength of the chemicals being employed. Alternatively, it may be possible to treat minor infestations on your child’s scalp with olive oil and cinnamon. (4)
Applying this to the scalp and hair and leaving it to soak in overnight before shampooing thoroughly can help to get rid of these parasites.
With the increase in cases of mosquito borne illnesses such as West Nile Virus and Zika, mosquito repellent is more important than the prevention of short term itchiness and discomfort.
Cinnamon essential oil, when properly diluted with water to a level of one percent, works to repel mosquitoes and is pet friendly. This does need to be reapplied every two hours to remain effective. (5)
3. Cinnamon Can Help Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Diabetes is a serious condition that affects millions of Americans and treatment options should always be carefully discussed with your doctor. However, cinnamon shows promise in helping control blood sugar levels, particularly in those who are pre-diabetic or have mild diabetes.
Some have found that consuming a few grams of cinnamon a day, or about a teaspoon, can show improvement when taken regularly for an extended period of time. (6)
4. Cinnamon and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a painful condition affecting the gastrointestinal systems of those who experience it, leading to diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and cramping. There is no cure for IBS and medical treatment depends on the specific symptoms the sufferer is experiencing.
Cinnamon has the potential to help soothe any irritation and inflammation throughout the GI tract, decreasing discomfort and allowing more regular bowel movements. (7) However, cinnamon should be used carefully when attempting to find relief from IBS as for some it can actually aggravate the condition.
5. Cinnamon Combats Yeast and Other Fungal Infections
With the increased levels of sugar in most daily diets in addition to more processed foods, more and more people are experiencing candida yeast infections, which thrive in sugar rich environments. These infections manifest as oral, skin, digestive, and genital yeast infections.
Depending on where the yeast infection is infecting, cinnamon stick tea and cinnamon essential oils can be utilized to return the balance of yeast in the body to a more normal state. Cinnamon has even shown promise in curing yeast infections that have been resistant to traditional antifungal agents. (8)
Those experiencing regular athlete’s foot or fungus under toenails may be surprised by how quickly cinnamon essential oils provide relief from the discomfort and aesthetic embarrassment where over the counter remedies have failed.
6. Cinnamon Can Ease Premenstrual Syndrome and PCOS
Most women, at some point in their lives, have experienced the pain, discomfort, and irritability related to their upcoming menses. Much in the way that IBS sufferers find relief with cinnamon, the anti-inflammatory benefits of cinnamon can help ease cramps and bloating. Cinnamon also contains a variety of different nutrients, such as magnesium and iron, which help reduce the symptoms of PMS. (9)
PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a common syndrome that can cause irregular periods, weight gain and acne. While cinnamon will not treat all of these symptoms, cinnamon has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels, which can help prevent weight gain and aid in weight loss of women suffering from PCOS.
7. Cinnamon May Have Cancer Fighting Properties
While these studies leave a lot of room for exploration, there is hope that cinnamon will aid in the prevention and treatment of tumors. More studies will have to be conducted before cinnamon can be labeled as anti-carcinogenic for humans. There is promise that cinnamon may be used as an anti-tumor agent in the future. (10)
many speculate that the rise in cancers is due to the rise in consumption of processed sugar for tumors to feed upon. With the ability to control blood sugar, it is hoped that this will help slow the growth or even prevent tumors. Cinnamon also contains antioxidants, which have been very popular in recent years as cancer fighting and essential for overall health.
8. Cinnamon Helps With Oral Health
Cinnamon is a popular flavor of mints, mouthwashes, and toothpastes, and for good reason. The antibacterial properties in cinnamon helps prevent tooth decay, plaque buildup, and gum disease. Cinnamon is an excellent choice for those who are looking to supplement their current oral care routine or who are looking to start a natural routine. (11)
9. Cinnamon May Help With Cognitive Function
Cinnamon, when consumed, applied topically, or used in an essential oil diffuser has been known to improve mood and increase attention spans as well as reduce depression. There is evidence that cinnamon can help those who experience Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder can find a more natural relief from these conditions with cinnamon essential oils or cinnamon tea than being over medicated by pharmaceuticals.
There is also research that suggests the protein in the brain that causes Alzheimer’s can be reduced and prevented by the regular consumption of cinnamon due to the compounds epicatechin and cinnamaldehyde. (12)
10. Cinnamon Can Help Keep Your Kitchen and Bathroom Clean
Keeping your kitchen clean when working with raw meat and poultry is every cook’s biggest concern. By mixing cinnamon essential oil with hydrogen peroxide or vinegar and water, you have a cleanser that is safe to use around kids and animals that will fight E.Coli and Salmonella, as well as mold, mildew, and other infectious microbes. This mixture is also great to use in the bathroom and other areas of the home. An added bonus to this is the more attractive smell than traditional tough cleaners. (13)
Cinnamon, whether used topically, made into a tea, or consumed in its powdered form, has a host of different health benefits ranging from immediate relief to long term and is even a powerful cleaner.
As long as you utilize the Ceylon form of cinnamon, also known as true cinnamon, you will not need to worry about any detrimental effects on your liver or kidneys due to harmful levels of coumarin.
These remedies are much safer and more eco friendly than many other options available.