This time of year, cinnamon is wafting everywhere. The smell of cinnamon sticks in apple cider or cinnamon buns (oops did I just say that out loud?!) is enough to make my mouth water. There are two forms of cinnamon on the market. I bet you have plain old “Cassia” cinnamon because that is the commercial variety sold in all supermarkets. Clinical trials almost always use this type of cinnamon on their participants, so it’s not bad. But the superior “true” form of cinnamon is called “Ceylon” and it’s available at spice shops. I think it tastes better. Cinnamon was mentioned throughout the Bible so its medicinal properties have been well-documented for centuries.
Most of you have heard that cinnamon spice can support diabetes by reducing blood sugar. In a recent clinical trial, 109 people with type 2 diabetes were evaluated and those who received cinnamon enjoyed a slight reduction in hemoglobin A1c, a biomarker of blood sugar. Other research suggests that cinnamon extract supports healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels. A comprehensive review article published in 2014 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine discussed the power of cinnamon’s “Insulin-Potentiating Factor” or IPF.
This compound found in cinnamon makes better use of the insulin your body makes explaining why type 2 diabetes might respond. Cinnamon has 20 times the IPF power as other spices. It also contains special plant-derived antioxidants like rutin, catechin, and quercetin known to support allergies, insulin utilization, cholesterol and immunity. But it’s not just about blood sugar, compounds and naturally-occurring essential oils from cinnamon have antibiotic properties. It can target Staph aureus, Salmonella, E. coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, as well as Candida.
The active ingredients in cinnamon could help your brain. Cinnamon may reduce swelling and protect from oxygen deprivation or high levels of the excitotoxin called glutamate. Cinnamon protects mitochondria after stroke and increases levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor). It reduces tau proteins and beta amyloid plaques commonly found in Alzheimer’s disease. Maybe there would be subtle benefits for people who have experienced TBI (traumatic brain injuries), Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s or post-concussion syndrome. Why not? It’s a simple, affordable therapeutic intervention with few side effects, plus it tastes great.
Feeling like you want to sprinkle cinnamon on your coffee, hot chocolate, oatmeal or barbecue chicken? Go ahead with my blessings. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory agent. It reduces levels of inflammatory cytokines including the biggest offenders, this means it acts like a wet blanket to a fire. It could help you if you have an autoimmune disease, Lyme, biotin or mold-related illness or cancer. Why? Because it controls the levels of compounds which (in excess) make you hurt. These include nitric oxide (iNOS), COX-2, NF-kappa B, TNF-alpha and lipopolysaccharides (LPS) produced intestinal bacteria during “leaky” gut. Because cinnamon blocks angiogenesis cutting off the food supply to cancer, it might have some mild, but positive effect on tumor progression. Now you can rationalize a second cup of eggnog, so long as you sprinkle cinnamon on it.