Holistic Healing at Home: Cinnamon Edition
Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-microbial, cinnamon is a champion healing herb that you probably already have in your kitchen!
The compound that gives cinnamon its distinctly toasty taste and warm aroma is called cinnamaldehyde. This compound makes up 60% of the active constituent content of cinnamon and is responsible for most of its therapeutic effects.
History of Use
The use of cinnamon is recorded as far back as 2800 BC in China. It is referred to in the Bible as a key ingredient in the anointing oil of Moses. The ancient Egyptians used it for its potent fragrance and flavour as well as the embalming of mummies, and the ancient Romans followed suit by using it to mask the odour of corpses.
This exotic spice continued to be rare and highly valued in Europe into the 15th century and was one of the treasures Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama faced the tumultuous oceans to find.
Luckily, today cinnamon is relatively cheap and found in most kitchen cupboards. Made from the inner bark of trees of the Cinnamomum spp. variety, cinnamon is dried, which allows it to curl up into the distinctive yet familiar round forms of cinnamon sticks. These sticks are ground down into cinnamon powder, or used whole.
Antioxidants protect our cells from the oxidative damage caused by free radicals, which come from many sources in our modern diets and lifestyles. Cinnamon is full of polyphenols (powerful plant antioxidants) that studies show outrank the antioxidant effects of other so-called ‘superfoods’ such as garlic.
Tissues in our body become inflamed in order to allow a greater proliferation of blood, nutrients, and white blood cells to that area. This is incredibly useful as part of our normal immune response or when our body is repairing damaged tissue, but more and more people today are suffering from chronic inflammation that causes pain; this can manifest in illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis.
Cinnamon is a useful natural weapon to fight this kind of inflammation that can easily be incorporated into many sweet and savoury foods, taken with tea, or on its own as a supplement.
Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
The term ‘heart disease’ encapsulates a range of conditions that collectively make up the world’s most common cause of premature death. Animal studies have shown that cinnamon can reduce blood pressure.
In studies conducted on people with type two diabetes, a dose as low as just one gram of cinnamon per day has proven to have positive effects on cholesterol levels, reducing levels of LDL (so-called ‘bad’) cholesterol while levels of HDL (so-called ‘good’) cholesterol remains stable. The same study also showed that cinnamon significantly reduced the fasting blood sugar of these diabetic patients. It might do this by…
Increasing Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in our blood at any one time and is a vital feature of a properly functioning metabolism. When a person has diabetes, their body may be producing adequate amounts of insulin, but their cells have become desensitised to it, thus reducing its effectiveness. This is the primary symptom of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Some very promising studies have shown that cinnamon can both prevent the onset of and reduce currently existing insulin resistance. This allows our bodies to better regulate blood sugar and...
As well as decreasing insulin resistance, cinnamon reduces blood sugar through a range of other mechanisms.
Firstly, it can interfere with several digestive enzymes, slowing down the breakdown of carbohydrates within the digestive tract and reducing the amount of glucose that can be released from them into your bloodstream.
Cinnamon can also be confused by our body’s cells for the hormone insulin, thus increasing our cell’s uptake of glucose, albeit much slower than true insulin.
Many studies show that cinnamon reduces the fasting blood sugars of people diagnosed with type two diabetes, with an effective dose being as low as one gram per day!
There is a lack of clinical evidence that cinnamon can treat infections in the body, but both anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests that topical use of cinnamon-infused oil in the mouth can prevent tooth decay and reduce bad breath caused by bacteria.