Cinnamon – The Smell Of Health
Cinnamon is a wonderful smelling spice obtained from the inner bark of trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods. It is believed to be the third most widely consumed spice in the world.
As with many of the most popular herbs and spices it doesn’t just taste good, it can be good for you too and there have been a number of studies demonstrating a wide range of health benefits. Here is just a small sample of those studies:
Type 2 Diabetes
A number of studies reviewed by Qin et al have found that Cinnamon has properties that help those with insulin resistance and that it increases insulin sensitivity and glucose transport. It is therefore very popular with Type 2 diabetics who take it to help control their blood sugar variations. A study of 60 people with type 2 diabetes by Khan et al in 2003 concluded “inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases”. The study also demonstrated that Cinnamon reduced triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Cinnamon and Candida
A study by Wang et al in 2012 looked at the effect of cinnamon oil on Candida Albicans both in the laboratory and in patients suffering from intestinal Candida. The laboratory results were dramatic with total destruction of the Candida.
In the second part of their study they took 60 patients infected with intestinal Candida. They were treated with a capsule containing both cinnamon oil and pogostemon oil (an Asian herb). After 14 days of treatment, 72% of the patients were found to have no Candida at all and the remaining 28% had seen a significant reduction.
Another study in 2011 looked at the use of cinnamon oil in hospitals. Candida infection can be dangerous among those with severely weakened immune systems, and it is becoming increasingly common in hospitals. This study looked at the effectiveness of sixteen different essential oils against another type of Candida yeast, and found that “Cinnamon oil is a natural anticandidal agent that can be effectively utilised for the control of the yeasts tested”
Studies have demonstrated the potential for cinnamon to help with colon cancer. An in vitro study by Wondrak et al was followed by a study on mice by Long et al in May of this year which concluded that the data suggested the feasibility of colorectal cancer suppression by dietary cinnamon supplement. Human trials are likely to follow, although as you cannot patent herbs and spices, this is more likely to be by a small-scale university study than full medical license style trials.
Alertness and Cognitive Function
An interesting study by Raudenbush et al found that alertness significantly improved in drivers (conducting simulated driving tests) while inhaling cinnamon odour. He then teamed up with Zolacz to conduct a study using flavoured chewing gums, looking at a broad range of cognitive tests, found that “cinnamon gum had the most consistent directional influence on participants’ cognitive performance” and overall showed significant improvements compared to those with no gum or flavourless gum.
Cinnamon as an AntiOxidant
There is plenty of research to show that cinnamon has very high antioxidant levels. A study by Shan et al of 26 different spices found that cinnamon was the second highest antioxidant and free radical scavenger (after clove).
Anti-microbial benefits of cinnamon
A number of studies have demonstrated the anti-microbial benefits of cinnamon and these are reviewed by Ranasinghe et al in a systematic review of the scientific studies into this versatile spice. The review produces a table covering 30 different research studies into the antimicrobial properties of cinnamon against a wide variety of bacteria and microbes including Listeria, Salmonella and E.coli with most of the studies demonstrating a strong anti-microbial affect.
A 2008 study by Tsuji-Naito found that Cinnamon zeylanicum inhibits RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis and that it opened the possibility for the development of a novel approach in the treatment of osteopenic disease such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
Include it in your diet
Overall it seems that including some cinnamon in your regular diet is a good idea for everybody and supplementing with a cinnamon extract may be useful for some. We like to add it to with some fruit to our porridge!