Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the branches of wild trees that belong to the genus "Cinnamomum" - native to the Caribbean, South America, and Southeast Asia.
There are two main types of cinnamon:
- Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), often considered to be "true cinnamon"
- Cassia cinnamon or Chinese cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromaticum), which originates from southern China, is typically less expensive than Ceylon cinnamon.
Due to the fact that Ceylon cinnamon is very expensive, most foods in the USA and Western Europe, including sticky buns, breads and other products use the cheaper Cassia cinnamon (dried Cassia bark). These days cinnamon is regarded as the second most popular spice, next to black pepper, in the United States and Europe.
Cinnamon has been consumed since 2000 BC in Ancient Egypt, where it was very highly prized (almost considered to be a panacea). In medieval times doctors used cinnamon to treat conditions such as coughing, arthritis and sore throats.
Modern research indicates that cinnamon may have some beneficial health properties. Having said that, it is important to recognise that more research and evidence is needed before we can say conclusively that cinnamon has these health benefits.
Possible health benefits of cinnamon
Cinnamon sticks or quills
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Cinnamon can be used to help treat muscle spasms, vomiting, diarrhea, infections, the common cold, loss of appetite, and erectile dysfunction (ED).
According to the National Institutes of Health2, cinnamaldehyde - a chemical found in Cassia cinnamon - could help fight against bacterial and fungal infections.
Cinnamon may help improve glucose and lipids levels3 in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in Diabetics Care.
The study authors concluded that consuming up to 6 grams of cinnamon per day "reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes." and that "the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases."
In addition, a certain cinnamon extract can reduce fasting blood sugar levels in patients, researchers reported in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Tel Aviv University researchers discovered that cinnamon may help prevent Alzheimer's disease. According to Prof. Michael Ovadia, of the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University, an extract found in cinnamon bark, called CEppt, contains properties that can inhibit the development of the disease.
A study of Indian medicinal plants revealed that cinnamon may potentially be effective against HIV4. According to the study authors, "the most effective extracts against HIV-1 and HIV-2 are respectively Cinnamomum cassia (bark) and Cardiospermum helicacabum (shoot + fruit)."
Cinnamon may help stop the destructive process of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a neurological scientist at Rush University Medical Center. Cinnamon could help eliminate the need to take some expensive and unpleasant drugs.
Lower the negative effects of high fat meals
Penn State researchers revealed that diets rich in cinnamon can help reduce the body's negative responses to eating high-fat meals.
Treating and healing chronic wounds
Research published in the journal ACS Nano suggests that scientists have found a way to package antimicrobial compounds from peppermint and cinnamon in tiny capsules that can both kill biofilms and actively promote healing.
Cinnamon health benefits - video
In this video, Dr. Josh Axe discusses the possible health benefits of cinnamon.
On the next page we look at the nutritional profile of cinnamon and the health risks associated with consuming it (including the fact that cinnamon contains coumarin). We also discuss Tolerable Daily Intakes and how much cinnamon you can safely eat each day.