by Craig Stellpflug
The miracle spice cinnamon is the scented bark of a tropical evergreen tree, native to India and Sri Lanka. Cinnamon comes from an evergreen tree in Southeast Asia and is cultivated widely in Vietnam, China, Burma, and Laos for its bark and the oil processed from the bark. Once upon a time in ancient Rome, cinnamon was worth more than silver.
Cinnamon is harvested from the inner bark of the tree branches after scraping off the corky outer layer and then drying the bark. As it dries, the bark curls up into quills which are then cut into sticks to be ground into the spice form. Full of calcium and fiber, cinnamon is one of the oldest known spices, it is mentioned in the Bible and was used in ancient Egypt as medicine, beverage flavoring and an embalming agent.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, cinnamon helps improve the body’s “fire.”
Cinnamon – Not just a spice!
Professor Daniel Fung, an expert in food science at Kansas State University, says cinnamon contains a compound that has the ability to kill bacteria. “If cinnamon can knock out E.coli 0157:H7, one of the most virulent food-borne microorganisms that exists today, it will certainly have antimicrobial effects on other common food-borne bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter.”
Now researchers from Tel Aviv University found that extracts from cinnamon bark inhibit the toxic amyloid polypeptide oligomers and fibrils that have been found in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) brain plaque formations. In animal models of Alzheimer’s, cinnamon reduced s-amyloid plaques associated with the pathology of AD. Reduction of these proteins can improve mental cognition. In one model, cinnamon extract resolved AD associate reduced longevity, helped recover locomotion defects and completely abolished tetrameric species of plaque in the brain.
Other benefits of cinnamon are: anti-microbial actions, blood sugar balancing, improving colon health, boosting brain function. Cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon has been well researched for its effects on blood platelets which help the blood clot to stop bleeding. Platelets can also cause strokes if they clump together too much. Cinnamon has been shown to help prevent this deadly clumping. Cinnamon will stop vomiting and relieve feelings of nausea. Cinnamon also helps slow tumor growth while inhibiting inflammatory markers connected to cellular proliferation.
In a recent study, people reduced their blood sugar levels by as much as 29 percent with cinnamon in just 40 days. That’s with NO drugs, NO diet changes – just plain old cinnamon!
Study volunteers who took a cinnamon extract showed significant decreases in fasting blood glucose and increases in lean muscle mass compared with the placebo group. Pre and post study analysis of the extract group revealed a statistically significant decrease in body fat and blood pressure.
Research found that cinnamon can have favorable effects on brain function. Participants in a study chewed cinnamon gum or even just smelled the sweet spice. Cognitive tests revealed that subjects who used cinnamon had better memory functions and could process information more quickly.
What kind and how much
Which is best: Ceylon cinnamon, Saigon cinnamon, cinnamomum zeylanicum or regular grocery store variety cinnamon? Interestingly, the grocery store variety known as cinnamomum cassia works the best in most research studies and clinical trials.
Drink cinnamon in tea or sprinkle a little cinnamon on your toast, cereal, oatmeal, or sliced apples. It not only tastes good, it lowers your blood sugar!
Taking two 500 mg capsules of cinnamon a day will help good cholesterol levels and taking two capsules with each meal can make a big difference in blood sugar and insulin levels for diabetics.
Sources for this article
Solomon TP, Blannin AK. Changes in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity following 2 weeks of daily cinnamon ingestion in healthy humans. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2009 Apr;105(6):969-76. Epub 2009 Jan 22