What is Cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a spice that is made by cutting the stems of the cinnamomum tree and removing the inner bark. The inner bark curls up to form cinnamon sticks and has been used for cosmetic and medicinal purposes in ancient Egypt about 4000 years ago. Even at that point, cinnamon was among the most valuable spices that were rare, and people made use of it as gifts. It was also a sign of royalty and devotion.
Mention of its health benefits has been in sacred books such as the bible and has been proved benefits by science. Cinnamon is used in all forms such as powder, essential oils, extracts, etc.
Benefits of Cinnamon
- Rich in Antioxidants: Cinnamon contains about 41 different types of protective antioxidants that slow the rate of ageing and reduce free radical damage. Cinnamon ranks seventh about the concentration of anti-oxidants it contains concerning all foods, herbs and spices around the world. Polyphenol, flavonoids and phenolic acid are the types of antioxidants that benefit the health. These compounds prevent disease formation by fighting oxidative stress in the body, especially in people of older age. It protects the body from some diseases and symptoms known as free radical scavengers and prevents heart disease, brain disorders and cancer by limiting lipid peroxidation and nitric oxide builds up in the blood.
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Flavonoid compounds are effective in treating harmful levels of inflammation in the body. Cinnamon contains about seven types of flavonoid compounds, hence making it capable of preventing problems like heart diseases, brain function decline and cancer. It is also beneficial for pain management in case of allergic reactions or age-related problems as it can provide relief from muscle soreness and lower swelling.
- Protects against damage to the Nervous system: Cinnamon can also prevent neurological disorders owing to its antioxidant properties, thus lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. It activates neuro-protective proteins that keep the brain cells safe from mutation and damage. It stops cells from morphing and self-damage as a negative effect of oxidative stress. Moreover, it is known for its anti-ageing effects on the body and brain, thus lowering chances of age-related neuro-degenerative diseases.
- Fights viruses & infections: Cinnamon essential oils have high immune–boosting abilities which help the body to resist different kinds of diseases. They can also protect against bacteria that cause problems in the digestive tract, on the surface of the skin or cold and flu. It also has qualities that can lower the risk of HIV.
- Improves skin health: Cinnamon can protect the skin against rashes, inflammations and allergic reactions due to the anti-biotic and anti-microbial properties. The essential oil can reduce inflammation, swelling, redness and pain. It is often used in combination with honey and rose water to get rid of acne, allergies, rosacea and improve skin health.
- Helps to fight HIV: HIV causes damage to the immune system and may eventually lead to AIDS. Cassia varieties of cinnamon are believed to be beneficial in fighting against HIV-1, which is the most common strain of HIV that affects individuals. A study of 69 medicinal plants suggests that cinnamon is an effective treatment in case of HIV -1.
- Prevents & cures Candida: Prevention and cure of Candida overgrowth in the digestive tract are possible by the use of cinnamon. It has anti-fungal properties which make it possible to be useful for treating Candida. Excess of sugar in the digestive tract can lead to Candida overgrowth; cinnamon can regulate blood sugar levels which helps in curbing the effects of the growth. Moreover, it also helps to avoid some autoimmune symptoms that may occur in such conditions.
- Improves Dental health: Cinnamon can help to get rid of bacterial microflora that is present in the oral cavity. Thus, it can help to avoid bad breathe, mouth infections, tooth decay, cavities, etc. Cinnamon essential oils also act as a natural anti-bacterial mouthwash to fight bacteria in the mouth. It is also a natural flavoring agent that can work as mouth fresheners to remove bad breath without the use of artificial chemicals. Various shampoos, beauty products and perfumes also contain cinnamon for its refreshing smell.
- Improves sensitivity to Insulin: Insulin is an important hormone that is responsible for the transport of blood sugar from the bloodstream to the cells that regulate metabolism and energy use. Insulin resistance could cause type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon is a natural agent that improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin, thus allowing it to perform its functions efficiently.
- Fights diabetes: Cinnamon’s anti-diabetic properties as well as its ability to improve sensitivity to the hormone, insulin makes it a good natural agent to fight against diabetes. Cinnamon blocks certain enzymes called alanines that help to absorb glucose in the blood, thus preventing insulin resistance which is the main cause of diabetes.
- Lowers the risk of cancer: DNA damage, cell mutation and cancerous tumor growth are preventable by the use of cinnamon. It contains the compound cinnamaldehyde which can inhibit cancer tumor growth. It also protects the DNA from damage and aids in the self-destruction of the cancer cells. Its anti-oxidant properties make it a strong anti-cancer agent.
Risks of Cinnamon
- Excessive intake of cinnamon can cause a level of toxicity build up in the body
- Ceylon cinnamon is best for regular use as a treatment of health issues because other types of cinnamon have high levels of toxic content
- Pregnant women must avoid cinnamon as it may cause premature labor
- It can reduce blood sugar levels. Thus it may be taken in correct quantities to avoid abnormally low blood sugar levels
- It can increase the heart rate in people with a heart condition
- Cinnamon oil may cause a burning sensation if it is used without dilating it
- Cinnamon also has blood thinning properties, especially in cassia cinnamon