7 Medically-Proven Health Benefits of Cinnamon…and Some Side Effects
Used as medicine by the Chinese and Ayurvedic people for thousands of years, the health benefits of cinnamon are infinitely better than just a fragrant spice. In fact, according to legend, cinnamon used to be more valuable than gold due to its incredible and sometimes unbelievable healing benefits and its preservative properties.
The History of Cinnamon: A Captivating Tale
Sometimes referred to by its scientific name, Cinnamomum cassia, the history of cinnamon is mind blowing. Not only does the use of cinnamon appear four times in the Bible, but also, according to early reports, the ancient Egyptians used cinnamon as a perfuming agent in their sacred embalming ceremonies 4,000 years ago.
The Holy Bible mentions cinnamon in the following verses:
Cinnamon is mentioned as a holy anointing oil mixed with myrrh and sweet-smelling cane.
Cinnamon is used as a perfume mixed with myrrh and aloe.
Cinnamon is used as a symbol of the Shulamite’s attractiveness and succulent fragrance listed with spikenard, myrrh and frankincense.
Cinnamon is used as one of the precious commodities of the last days.
Cinnamon was a popular meat preservative in the Middle Ages, wanted not only for the upper class, but also for all classes and society ranks. According to the History Channel:
“Despite its widespread use, the origins of cinnamon was the Arab merchants’ best-kept secret until the early 16th century. To maintain their monopoly on the cinnamon trade and justify its exorbitant price, Arab traders wove colorful tales for their buyers about where and how they obtained the luxury spice. One such story, related by the 5th-century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus, said that enormous birds carried the cinnamon sticks to their nests perched high atop mountains that were insurmountable by any human. According to the story, people would leave large pieces of ox meat below these nests for the birds to collect. When the birds brought the meat into the nest, its weight would cause the nests to fall to the ground, allowing the cinnamon sticks stored within to be collected. Another tall tale reported that the cinnamon was found in deep canyons guarded by terrifying snakes, and first-century Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder proposed that cinnamon came from Ethiopia, carried on rafts with no oars or sails, powered by ‘man alone and his courage.’”
The cinnamon industry, as we currently know it, dates back to 1518, when Portuguese dealers learned of the “Ceylon” variety in Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka). After the British conquered the region in 1784, cinnamon became more commonplace and today we normally see Ceylon and cassia cinnamon at our local grocery stores.
The Benefits of Cinnamon
Cinnamon works impressively as an organic medicine for digestive illnesses, menstrual discomfort and joint aches because of its elevated level of cinnamaldehyde (the anti-inflammatory substance that gives cinnamon its delightful taste and smell).
One of the most insightful cases presenting how cinnamon can help with allergies is seen in a 2006 Egyptian study, which assessed the spice’s ability to keep house mites at bay. These powerful allergens have become a worldwide nuisance and, according to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, at least 45 percent of kids with asthma are allergic to them.
When Egyptian scientists looked at the capacity various essential oils had in slaying the extremely allergic house mite, they learned that cinnamon was number one.
The journals Nutrition Research and Pharmacognosy Research recently published studies suggesting that 1,500 mg of cinnamon can seriously benefit the lipid profile, liver enzymes, insulin resistance, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in diabetics and people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease patients (NAFLD). The study is especially promising because NAFLD is the number one cause of liver disease in the world.
The Iran Journal of Medical Sciences published a study recently that evaluated 28 plant extracts against Gram-negative, such as E. coli; the main bacterial cause of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
The species Cinnamomum zeylanicum ranked as one of the top five most effective plants, which explains why people who supplement with cinnamon usually suffer fewer urinary tract infections than those who do not.
4. Gut Distress
Due to its antimicrobial properties, cinnamon has lent a hand to millions of people all across the world who overcame bacterial excess in their gut. Several studies, such as one out of Iran, have reported cinnamon's potential in controlling dangerous infections of E. coli.
5. Acne & Skin Infection
Commonly thought to be a cure-all for numerous diseases, a combination of cinnamon oil and honey can be exceptionally effective at treating skin disorders such as acne and infections because of its antimicrobial ability.
6. Common Cold
Similarly, because of its influential antimicrobial characteristics, a report published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine highlights that cinnamon essential oil was found to be highly effective in controlling the common cold. Specifically, by decelerating the progress of a number of bacteria and fungi, the microorganisms that frequently cause the common cold are restrained by cinnamon supplements.
Several historical records say Chinese folk remedies have used cinnamon to encourage vital energy (Qi) and, because of its insulin-boosting properties, cinnamon has been known to give people sustained energy and prevent crashing after carb-rich meals because it stabilizes your blood sugar.
Cinnamon’s Side Effects
While most people receive significant benefits when they introduce cinnamon into their daily health regimen, some sources advice against it. Several accounts claim that cinnamon puts women who are pregnant at risks of early labor, and coumarin-rich varieties (such as cassia cinnamon) can damage the liver, act as a blood thinner, and can cause an increase in heart rate.
- Saad el-Z, et al. Acaricidal activities of some essential oils and their monoterpenoidal constituents against house dust mite, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Acari: Pyroglyphidae). J Zhejiang Univ Sci B 2006; 7(12):957-62.
- Ooi LS, et al. Antimicrobial activities of cinnamon oil and cinnamaldehyde from the Chinese medicinal herb Cinnamomum cassia Blume. Am J Chin Med 2006; 34(3):511-22.
- Askari F, et al. Cinnamon may have therapeutic benefits on lipid profile, liver enzymes, insulin resistance, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease patients. Nutr Res 2014; 34(2):143-8.
- Ranasinghe P, et al. Effects of Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) on blood glucose and lipids in a diabetic and healthy rat model. Pharmacognosy Res 2012; 4(2):73-9