The health benefits of cinnamon are not just restricted to any one system of our body, but it benefits you in various types of health disorders. It also acts as a preventive remedy against serious diseases mainly because of its nutritive value. Its uses are diverse ranging from its uses in the kitchen to the manufacturing industry.
It is available as cinnamon sticks or powder, which are made from its tree bark. The health benefits and healing properties of cinnamon are attributed to the active ingredients of the oil that is present in the bark of its tree.
What is Cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a spice that is obtained from the inner bark of the branches of trees, which belong to the Cinnamomum family.
It is a small tree found in Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Egypt, and Brazil. The cinnamon that we use, is prepared by drying the bark of its tree. This dried bark is then rolled into small sticks called quills. Ground cinnamon in powder form is also available.
Four types of cinnamon are available, of which Ceylon and Cassia varieties are the most popular. The Ceylon variety is the most expensive of the lot and is considered to be the “true cinnamon”. It is sweet and easier to ground into powder form. Cassia cinnamon is darker and harder to ground into powder form.
Nutritional contents of cinnamon
One teaspoon of cinnamon contains
- 28 mgms of Calcium
- One mgm of Iron
- More than a gram of fiber
- Therapeutic amounts of Manganese
- Vitamins C and K, an
- Half a gram of “usable” or “effective” carbohydrates.
- Cinnamon bark, along with some ingredients is applied to the penis for premature ejaculation.
- It is used as a spice in cooking and as a flavoring agent in beverages.
- Cinnamon oil is used in small amounts in the manufacture of toothpaste, mouthwashes, gargles, lotions, liniments, soaps, detergents, and other pharmaceutical products and cosmetics.
- In Ayurvedic medicines, cinnamon is used for its diverse medical benefits.
Cinnamon is packed with powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols. Additionally, it has anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, anticancer, and lipid-lowering properties. It has also been reported to have benefits on neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
- Benefits on cholesterol levels. Just half a teaspoon of cinnamon daily added to your tea or coffee or your food lowers your raised cholesterol levels. It is said that this cholesterol-lowering effect is directed toward LDL or the bad cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.
- Prevents heart problems. The calcium and fiber content of cinnamon helps in preventing the onset of heart diseases. Additionally, as explained below, adding about half a teaspoon of it to the diet daily increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin. This property is helpful to those suffering from heart disease and blood pressure. Besides, because of its anti-clotting property, blood circulation to the heart is improved, thereby helping to prevent heart attack.
- Benefits on diabetes. Cinnamon helps to reduce blood sugar by improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin. You see this benefit more in people with diabetes type 2.
- Helps in weight loss. A combination of cinnamon and honey stimulates the metabolism of the body, thereby helping to metabolize the ingested glucose fully. As a result, there is no deposition of glucose in the body in the form of fats. This allows you in maintaining your proper weight and prevents weight gain.
- Benefits on cancer. The Department of Agriculture in Maryland, U.S. conducted a study, which showed that ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon with honey daily helped to stop the proliferation of cancer cells in leukemia and lymphoma. It also helps in the excretion of the bile, thereby preventing cancer of the colon and colorectal cancer.
- Good therapy for respiratory tract infections. Mix cinnamon and honey to taste in one tablespoon and drink daily. This mix has a therapeutic effect on cold, cough, sore throat, and sinusitis.
- Helps fight infections. Cinnamon has antiseptic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-parasitic properties. It is therefore very effective to fight infections, external as well as internal. Its therapeutic effect in treating resistant yeast infections of the vagina and mouth is also well known. The application of honey and cinnamon helps in the quicker healing of external wounds.
- Benefits on arthritis. Half a teaspoon of its powder with one tablespoon of honey taken daily gives much relief from the pain and inflammation of arthritis. This is attributed to the rich content of anti-inflammatory compounds in cinnamon.
- Benefits on the kidneys and urinary tract. Cinnamon has diuretic properties, which help in proper urination. This helps to prevent urinary tract infections and the formation of kidney stones.
- Benefits to the digestive tract. Cinnamon is well known as a digestive tonic. Besides its anti-flatulent effect, it helps relieve diarrhea, acidity, indigestion, and vomiting.
- Benefits on acne. The application of a mix of cinnamon and honey over acne helps to get rid of them.
- Improves blood circulation. Cinnamaldehyde present in cinnamon prevents unnecessary clumping of blood platelets, thereby helping to prevent unwanted clotting of blood. This anti-clotting property helps to keep the blood thin and improves blood circulation. This ensures proper blood circulation to all parts of the body, including the heart. Metabolic activity is also kept to the optimum.
- Improves immunity. Persons regularly taking cinnamon have a richer immune system and are prone to longevity in life along with a healthier history.
- Relieves dysmenorrhea. Taking cinnamon daily begins to give relief to women who have painful menstrual cycles.
- Improves lactation in breastfeeding mothers. Its regular intake daily stimulates the secretion of breast milk.
- Benefits on teeth and mouth. It helps to prevent tooth decay and also acts as a mouth freshener and gets rid of bad breath.
- Good preservative. Foods to which cinnamon has been added, stay fresh for a longer period. It is a good preservative.
- Benefits on the brain. Since it helps in improving blood circulation, it improves the activity of the brain thereby acting as a brain tonic.
- Prevents premature ejaculation. Some evidence suggests that a specific cream containing cinnamon and other ingredients might prevent premature ejaculation.
Seeing its diverse health benefits, you must make it a point to include about half a teaspoon of cinnamon in your diet daily. It could be added to your food, your tea, or your coffee.
The side effects of cinnamon are rare and can occur with excessive consumption. They can occur due to two reasons:
- either you may be allergic to it, or
- you have over-enthusiastically taken larger doses of it.
How much cinnamon is safe to consume daily? Some experts suggest that 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2-4 grams) of its powder can be safely consumed in a day. Some other studies have suggested between 1 gram and 6 grams for daily consumption. Higher consumption can be toxic.
The risks are rare and listed below:
- An allergic skin rash due to cinnamon may occur over the body and especially around the mouth. Ulceration due to cinnamon burn may also occur inside the mouth.
- People who are on anti-clotting drugs should not consume cinnamon as it may lead to excessive bleeding.
- Excessive consumption can lead the kidneys to fail especially when you have some kidney problem.
- Excessive consumption can also cause palpitation and breathlessness.
Side effects of cinnamon are rare with proper consumption. You cannot ignore its health benefits. They far outweigh the dangers of the side effects, which occur rarely, are not serious, and can be reversed by stopping its consumption.
- Pregnant women should refrain from eating cinnamon.
- Start taking cinnamon in smaller doses to rule out allergy.
Do not take this spice when you have developed stomatitis or glossitis or mouth ulcers.