Cinnamon: Its Benefits and Usages
D.K. I love reading the many benefits of cinnamon as I add it to most of the meals I prepare. It is delicious and powerful. Included is a list of a few reported benefits and the many ways cinnamon can be used. Before we start with that here is a fun fact about this wonderful spice!!
Cinnamon has been used as an ingredient throughout history, dating back as far as ancient Egypt. It used to be rare and valuable and was regarded as a gift fit for a king. Fortunately, today it is inexpensive and available in supermarkets.
There are two types of cinnamon:
- Ceylon cinnamon: Also known as “true” cinnamon.
- Cassia cinnamon: This is the more common variety today, what people generally refer to as “cinnamon.”
The bark of cinnamon contains a number of oils that provide the body with many nutrients and health benefits.
Many studies have concluded that cinnamon has:
- Anti-Inflammatory properties: helps body fight infections and tissue damage.
- Loaded with antioxidants: protects the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
- May cut the risk of heart disease.
- In animal studies, cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
- Cinnamon can improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin.
- Cinnamon is well known for its blood sugar lowering effects.
- Cinnamon may have beneficial effects on neurodegenerative diseases. Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by progressive loss of the structure of function of brain cells.
D.K. I have seen several articles about cinnamon being helpful in the challenges of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Why? It is said there are two compounds found in cinnamon which appears to inhibit the buildup of a protein call tau in the brain which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
In a study looking at mice with Parkinson’s disease, cinnamon helped to protect neurons, normalize neurotransmitter levels and improve motor function.
I believe this is something we should continue to look into as studies proceed for helping folks with these challenging diseases.
Cinnamon may be protective against cancer: Cancer is a serious disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells. Cinnamon is being studied for its potential use in cancer prevention and treatment. The studies are being conducted in test tube experiments and animal studies.
Cinnamon helps fight bacterial and fungal infections: Cinnamaldehyde, the main active component of cinnamon, may help fight various kinds of infection. It can also inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, including Listeria and Salmonella.
D.K. More Fun Facts: Due to the expense and limited availability, Ceylon cinnamon “true cinnamon,” is not used in most foods in the USA and West Europe. Sticky buns, breads, and other products use the less expensive Cassia cinnamon (dried Cassia bark), often labeled as Chinese cinnamon
Ceylon cinnamon has a sweeter, more delicate flavor than cassia does.
The more important distinction may be the presence of a chemical called coumarin, a natural plant chemical that acts as a blood thinner.
“Cassia cinnamon has much higher levels of coumarin than try cinnamon. Patients on blood thinners, such as warfarin ( trade name Coumadin) are often advised to limit their intake of cinnamon, but this general applies to cassia more so than real cinnamon”
These days cinnamon is considered the second most popular spice next to black pepper in the United States and Europe.
In medieval times, doctors used cinnamon to treat conditions such as coughing, arthritis and sore throats.
Suggestive Uses for Cinnamon:
D.K. Because I love the smell and taste of cinnamon, I use it liberally in cooking. It can be added to stews, meat loaf, beans, curries, cereals, vegetables, sauces, soups, and drinks. It blends beautifully in most anything!
- Simmer cinnamon sticks with almond milk and honey for a delicious tea.
- Saute’ lamb with eggplant, raisins and cinnamon sticks to create a healthy Middle Eastern meal.
- Sprinkle cinnamon on quinoa, amaranth or millet as part of a breakfast cereal .
Cinnamon Ant Repellent:
Ants detest cinnamon, which makes it a good kitchen counter insect deterrent that is already at hind in the kitchen. Leaves counters clean and smelling great.
Recipe instructions: Sprinkle powdered cinnamon liberally on entry points and trails. You can also make a spray bottle using cinnamon essential oil and vinegar. Make it strong, using 100 drops or so to a medium size spray bottle.
Insect Bite Treatment:
A mixture of cinnamon and honey applied to a skin irritation will help alleviate the pain and itching. The duo will disinfect the infected area and moisturize and heal it. No need to layer on the dangerous chemicals when you have this natural remedy.
Precautions: For those of you who are pregnant or lactating, refrain from using medicinal doses of cinnamon or cinnamon bark. Cinnamon tea should also be avoided by those suffering from ulcers. Essential oil of cinnamon can be toxic when consumed beyond the recommendations. If applying topically, use a carrier oil as it is strong and some people are sensitive to it.
Due to its anti-fungal, anti-bacterial qualities and anti-oxidant qualities, cinnamon is effective in treating acne and skin blemishes.
Recipe: Mix 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon with 3 Tablespoons of honey and happy to the skin. Let the mixture sit for a few hours or overnight. Wash off with warm water.
You can either chew on small pieces of cinnamon bark or gargle cinnamon water.
Brain Power Booster:
“It was found that smelling cinnamon boost cognitive function and memory.” Maybe add a few dashes of cinnamon to your morning coffee or cereal to get your day off to a more focus and alert start.