By- Meena Ganagani,Practicing Clinical Nutritionist,Mumbai.
Cinnamon is a common spice used by different cultures around the world for several centuries. It is obtained from the inner bark of trees from the genus Cinnamomum, a tropical evergreen plant that has two main varieties; Cinnamomum zeylanicum (CZ) and Cinnamon cassia (CC) (also known as Cinnamomum aromaticum/Chinese cinnamon). In addition to its culinary uses, in native Ayurvedic medicine Cinnamon is considered a remedy for respiratory, digestive and gynaecological ailments. Almost every part of the cinnamon tree including the bark, leaves, flowers, fruits and roots, has some medicinal or culinary use. The volatile oils obtained from the bark, leaf, and root barks vary significantly in chemical composition, which suggests that they might vary in their pharmacological effects as well.
In-vitro and in-vivo studies in animals and humans from different parts of the world have demonstrated numerous beneficial health effects of CZ, such as anti-inflammatory properties, anti-microbial activity, reducing cardiovascular disease, boosting cognitive function and reducing risk of colonic cancer.(1)
Uses of Cinnamon
Cinnamon has been used as a spice in daily life without any side effects. Several reports have dealt with the numerous properties of cinnamon in the forms of bark, essential oils, bark powder, phenolic compounds, flavonoids, and isolated components. Cinnamon is mainly used in the aroma and essence industries due to its fragrance, which can be incorporated into different varieties of foodstuffs, perfumes, and medicinal products. (2)
Health benefits of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is the best spice available in terms of its nutrition and health. It contains unique healthy and healing property due to the presence of active components. The health benefits may also come from eating Cinnamon. Those are
1.Lowers Cholesterol: Cinnamon may significantly lower LDL (Low Density Lipo Protein) or “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides and total cholesterol.
2.Reduces blood sugar levels and treating Type 2 Diabetes. By taking as little as ½ teaspoon of cinnamon per day it can improves the insulin resistance and it can help in weight control.
3.Heart Disease: The calcium and fibre which are present in cinnamon provides protection against heart diseases. Cinnamon in the food helps those suffering from coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.
4.Fights Cancer: Cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukaemia and lymphoma cancer cells. Due to the presence of calcium and fibre in cinnamon which can help to remove bile, which prevents damage to colon cells, thus prevents colon cancer.
5.Mouth freshener: Small pieces of cinnamon can be chewed or gargled with cinnamon water which serves as a good mouth freshener.
6.Cures Respiratory Problems: Cinnamon is very useful home remedy for common or severe colds. It will cure most chronic cough, cold and clear the sinuses.
7.Brain Tonic: Cinnamon boosts the activity of the brain and hence acts as a good brain tonic. It helps in removing nervous tension and memory loss.
8.Infections: Due to its antifungal antibacterial antiviral, antiparasitic and antiseptic properties it is effective in fighting vaginal yeast infections, oral yeast infections and stomach ulcers and head lice.
9.Eases menstruation cycles: Cinnamon has also been found useful for women’s health as it helps in providing relief from menstrual cramping and other feminine discomforts.
10.Birth Control: Cinnamon also helps in natural birth control. Regular consumption of cinnamon after child birth delays menstruation and thus helps in avoiding conception.
11.Breastfeeding: It is also believed that cinnamon aids in the secretion of breast milk.
12.Reduces Arthritis Pain: Cinnamon spice contains anti-inflammatory compounds, which can be useful in reducing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
13.Digestive Tonic: Cinnamon is very effective for indigestion, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhoea and flatulence. It is very helpful in removing gas from the stomach and intestines. It also removes acidity, diarrhoea and morning sickness. It is often referred to as a digestive tonic.
14.Reduces Urinary tract infections: People who eat cinnamon on a regular basis report a lower incidence of urinary tract infections. Cinnamon is diuretic in nature and helps in secretion and discharge of urine.
15.Anti-clotting Actions: The Cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood platelets.
16.Natural Food Preserver: When added to food, it prevents bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
17. Headaches and migraine: Headache due to the exposure to cold wind is readily cured by applying a thin paste of powdered cinnamon mixed in water on the forehead.
18.Pimples and Blackheads: Cinnamon helps in removing blood impurities. Therefore it is often recommended for pimples.
19.Thinning of the blood and improves blood circulation: Cinnamon is a blood thinning agent which also acts to increase circulation. Significantly reduce the chance of getting a heart attack by regularly consuming cinnamon.
20. Toning of tissues: Cinnamon may have the ability to tone and constrict tissues in the body.
21.Those who eat cinnamon on a regular basis often report that their muscle and joint pain, as well as stiffness, is reduced or even eliminated.
22.Immune System: Honey and cinnamon paste is good for boosting the immune system, removing regular fatigue and increasing the longevity of an individual. It is also known to have anti-aging properties.
23.Itching: Paste of honey and cinnamon is often used to treat insect bites.
24.Healing: Cinnamon helps in stopping bleeding. Therefore it facilitates the healing process.
25.Cinnamon which inhibits development of Alzheimer’s disease.
26.Recent research documents observed that anti-melanoma activity of Cinnamaldehyde.
27.Cinnamon leaf oil has been found to be very effective in killing mosquito larvae. (3)
In the short term, consuming moderate amounts of cinnamon as a spice or as a supplement seems to be safe for most people.
Cinnamon is available as a supplement, as well as a spice. Supplements may have an impact on health and disease. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate supplements, so there might be concerns about quality, purity, and strength. People should always ask their doctor before using supplements. (4)