We may have linked its use to the countless sweets we eat during the holiday season, but if we look a little better, cinnamon is a spice that can offer a lot to our health! This is the second most popular spice after black pepper in Europe and America!
Cinnamon is found in Southeast Asia, South America and the Caribbean, whereas Ceylon Cinnamon stands out for its quality! It seems to have been consumed since 2000 BC. in Egypt, and there are references to it in much older documents!
Cinnamon was often found in Mediterranean countries in ancient times,as an ingredient in various ointments, with many describing its aroma as the best and most expensive! Back then it was a great gift for kings, as it was not easy to get it. In the Middle Ages, many doctors used it to treat sore throat, cough, indigestion, and even arthritis.
Noteworthy is the Cinnamon War, when in 1640 the Dutch occupied the port of Ceylon and very quickly took over the trade and profits of the spice. Later, in 1796, the British appeared, who managed to get cinnamon in their hands!
Cinnamon Types: Which one to choose?
There are generally two types of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon, also known as authentic or real cinnamon, and cassia, which is mainly found in China and Indonesia. The authentic Ceylon cinnamon has long, delicate woods and sweet scents, while its color is light brown or beige. In contrast, the cassia is darker in color, reddish, hardwood and its aroma is quite intense and slightly spicy.
On the market, cassia has prevailed, as it is much cheaper and its aroma stands out even in small quantities, thanks to its intensity! From a nutritional point of view, however, Ceylon cinnamon appears to be superior as it contains coumarin at a much lower rate than cassia. It is a substance that can become toxic at very high doses.
But what makes Cinnamon stand out apart from its charming scent? Many studies have recently been done on the effects of cinnamon on the digestive system, diabetes and many neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Cinnamon and Diabetes
Researchers’ views appear to be divergent on the issue, with others arguing that cinnamon may seem beneficial to people with diabetes, especially type 2, while others say it has no significant effect. However, there are several studies showing that its consumption can increase insulin sensitivity and improve blood glucose transportation to cells.
Indeed, many studies in humans confirm that cinnamon could lower blood sugar levels by 10-29%. If someone is diabetic or in pro-diabetes stage, it is wise to consult their doctor for taking it.
Cinnamon and Brain Function
There are several studies on the effects of some cinnamon components on neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but so far only in animals and in vitro. Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by progressive decline in function or loss of brain cell structure.
Substances from the cinnamon bark extract, such as CEppt, appear to inhibit some symptoms, such as amyloid plaque formation, while cognitive function appears to improve in Alzheimer’s disease (1). At the same time, research in Parkinson’s mice has shown that cinnamon has helped protect neurons and neurotransmitters and improved motor function (2).
Cinnamaldehyde, an active substance in cinnamon, has a potential antimicrobial effect against several infections. So far studies have shown its efficacy against bacteria such as Candida, Listeria and Salmonella, which reduce its spread (2). In addition, its antimicrobial capabilities can help prevent tooth decay and reduce bad breath. It is true that it is an ingredient in many toothpastes!
Cinnamon: Side effects
There are some points that need attention in taking cinnamon. If you have diabetes and are on medication, it can affect your blood sugar levels by lowering them well enough. Consumption of high dose cassia cinnamon can be toxic to the liver due to the coumarin it contains. The same can happen if you are taking medicines that affect your liver, such as paracetamol, statins, etc. Consume up to 1 teaspoon a day if you are an adult and give less to children.
Very often, many are affected by its benefits and consume insoluble cinnamon powder in large quantities. Doing so may also cause inhalation, leading to coughing, infection or even lung damage. Also, the throat can be easily irritated and cause additional respiratory problems. (3)
Overall, cinnamon is a spice that sweetens our days! Prefer Ceylon cinnamon for its outstanding quality, otherwise cinnamon cassia in smaller doses.
If you want to improve a health problem, first consult your doctor who can guide you on the right dosage and its necessity.