Healing Spices 101: Cinnamon, A Spice For Life
06/17/2012 | 02:34 PM
Cinnamon is a popular spice that is used in many kinds of food. It comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree from the genus Cinnamomum that is native to South East Asia. Cinnamon has been used as a spice and herb since ancient times by the Egyptians and Chinese. As more evidence of cinnamon’s health benefits come to light, cinnamon is increasingly used for is medicinal benefits as well as its distinctive and piquant taste.
The main active ingredient of cinnamon are its volatile oils which have great healing properties. These essential oils are cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl alcohol, and cinnamyl acetate. Studies on animals have found that cinnamaldehyde prevents blood platelets from aggregating and inhibited the release of inflammatory compounds from the platelet membrane. In traditional Chinese medicine, Cassia cinnamon is used for colds, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, and painful menstrual periods. It's also believed to improve energy, vitality, and circulation and be particularly useful for people who tend to feel hot in their upper body but have cold feet.
Cinnamon also has significant levels of manganese, Vitamins C and K, calcium and eugenol, a clove oil which has anti-viral properties.
Cinnamon has been known to be effective against viruses and other health disorders like diabetes by reducing blood sugar, bad cholesterol (LDL), and total cholesterol, according to 2003 study published in the journal Diabetes Care.
- The scent of cinnamon can boost the brain’s function: According to a 2004 study, chewing cinnamon sticks or just smelling the scent of cinnamon has an effect on the brain's cognitive processing. It enhances the memory, visual-motor speed, attention, and recognition. The test group was subjected to different scents of cinnamon, jasmine, peppermint, and no odor, with cinnamon proving the clear winner.
- Cinnamon can help in controlling blood sugar: Although cinnamon is naturally sweet, it can lower blood sugar levels. According to studies, cinnamon can slow down the rate which the stomach empties itself after every meal. This leads to lower blood sugar levels after eating.
- Cinnamon can help in making the body respond better to insulin: In studies conducted with animals, cinnamon has been found to have a positive effect on stimulating the insulin receptors in the body and thus absorbing insulin better. It also inhibits those enzymes which prevent the stimulation of the insulin receptors.
- Cinnamon is good for fighting micro-organisms: Research has shown that the oils from cinnamon have an anti-microbial property. Cinnamon can help in stopping the growth of bacteria, fungus, and yeast. Laboratory tests show that yeast growth can sometimes be stopped by cinnamon extracts when normal anti-fungal medications fail.
- Cinnamon is helpful for digestion: Cinnamon has long been used in traditional medicine to aid digestion. It is said that cinnamon can help in some digestive disorders such as indigestion, diarrhea, stomach upsets, gas, and bloating. Cinnamon aids in promoting an overall healthy digestion process.
- Cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory: Although the anti inflammatory property is light, it can still help in easing the swelling of nerves and muscles. It can help in easing toothaches, arthritis pain, headaches and migraines.
- Cinnamon is good for the urinary track: Studies have found that cinnamon can help in improving the urinary tract health and in avoiding infections. It can also aid in removing and preventing kidney stones.
- Cinnamon has an anti-clotting effect: this can help people with high blood pressure problems. The anti-clotting effect of cinnamon will help the blood to run more freely and avoid clotting in arteries.
Health Problem Remedies
- Helps protect against the common cold: Cinnamon has been used in ancient Chinese's medicine as a cure for common cold and coughs. The anti-inflammatory properties of cinnamon can make the air passages wider, making breathing easier. The anti-microbial property of cinnamon will also help the immune system fight the viruses that trigger the common cold and cough.
- Reduces mouth bacteria: Toothaches are often caused by the build-up of bacteria in the mouth, which slowly eats away the tooth enamel. Cinnamon has anti-microbial properties that can help stop the buildup of bacteria in the mouth.
- Diabetes: Recent studies have shown that cinnamon is great for people with diabetes. According to research, cinnamon has beneficial properties that can lower blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Cinnamon can make the body more receptive to insulin as it can stimulate the insulin receptors to absorb more insulin. It can further decrease blood sugar levels by slowing the rate of digestion. A study in the October 2010 issue of "Diabetic Medicine" reports that average blood glucose levels were reduced in type 2 diabetics administered 2 g of cinnamon per day for 12 weeks.
- Candida: According to several studies, cinnamon’s ant-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral property is also effective in fighting Candida albicans. Candida albican is the fungus which is responsible for oral yeast infections, vaginal yeast infections, head lice, and stomach ulcers.
- Hiccups: Cinnamon has been used for a long time for hiccups. Try chewing on a cinnamon stick for an ancient remedy.
- Drug Interactions: If you are on diabetes medication, you should be careful when you consume cinnamon because of possible drug interactions that may affect the dosage and may affect your blood sugar. Cinnamon can also interact with blood-thinning medications. Avoid consuming cinnamon two weeks before surgery or any dental operations.
- Mouth pain: People who are suffering from a mouth ulcer may experience a burning sensation and pain after consuming cinnamon. If you have mouth ulcers, be careful when eating cinnamon.
- Allergies: Some people have allergies to cinnamon. They may get headaches, skin itchiness or irritations, have difficulty breathing, and experience nausea if allergic to cinnamon. Stop using cinnamon if you feel any of these symptoms.
- Be careful with cinnamon oil: The oil is made from steam distillation, which produces a pale to dark yellow oil with a warm, spicy fragrance. The U.S. FDA has ruled that the bark oil is safe to eat in small quantities, however, when applied topically, it can cause skin irritations, including those in the mouth. In general it is used to give a warm fragrance to a room, or as an insect repellent. Place a couple of cotton balls in cinnamon oil and place in the area when you have ants.
Cinnamon has been used for centuries as a spice and for its healthy properties. Today, cinnamon has gained in popularity because of the growing number of health benefits that are being discovered. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties that make it an ancient remedy for colds, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, and painful menstrual periods.
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