Cinnamon is a staple that is in almost every spice rack, however it has also been used for its medicinal properties for centuries in both traditional and modern medicines.
Scientifically known as cinnamomum there are two main types used medicinally, Ceylon Cinnamon referred to as true cinnamon and Cassia Cinnamon, known as common cinnamon found in both medicinal products and food items.
Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of cinnamon trees, the inner bark is extracted and the wood is removed. When the bark has dried, the strips curl into the “cinnamon sticks” you see in grocery stores and your favorite hot fall drinks. The sticks can also be ground to form a powder and used in numerous recipes and even as a natural food preservative, due to extremely high antioxidant levels.
The unique smell and flavor are due to the oils excreted from the bark. This oil has been found to be very high in the compound cinnamaldehyde. This compound is attributed for most of the positive effects on our health, that cinnamon is well known for.
High in Antioxidants
Cinnamon is extremely high in powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols, surpassing such “superfoods” as garlic and oregano. Antioxidant compounds play a vital role in human life, acting as health-protecting agents. Antioxidants respond to free radicals within the body and damage caused by metabolic and age related diseases.
This free radical scavenging ability, decreases oxidative stress within the body - the key component thought to promote the growth of cancer cells and accelerate the effects of Alzheimers and Parkinson’s.
Studies have proven cinnamon extracts show considerable antioxidant activity, due to the high levels of cinnamaldehyde and polyphenols found within various parts of the plant.
Cassia Cinnamon has been widely used for treating dyspepsia, gastritis, and inﬂammatory disease. Studies have indicated that Cinnamon and its many antioxidants have strong anti-inflammatory abilities that can help with chronic inflammation within the body.
A recent study reports that a compound isolated from cinnamon bark exhibited the ability to inhibit the production of nitric oxide and the expression of nitric oxide synthesis in the central nervous system. Leading researchers to believe cinnamon could be a “potential source for the therapeutic treatment or prevention of inflammation-mediated neurodegenerative diseases”.
Cinnamon has been used for centuries for its antimicrobial abilities, as it possesses potent antibacterial, antifungal and insecticidal properties. A well studied effect of cinnamon extracts is the activity against gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, those responsible for human infectious diseases such as oral diseases, e.coli, salmonella, respiratory infections and HIV-1.
Cinnamon is a popular ingredient in many oral health products for its outstanding antibacterial properties that may prevent tooth decay and improve bad breath.
While most studies available now are conducted on cell lines or animals, Cinnamon's traditional usage can lead us to believe science is finally catching up to all this wonderful spice has to offer our health and wellbeing.
Cinnamon has been used traditionally and medicinally to treat or aide in the treatment of:
- tooth decay
- respiratory infections
- Azheimers, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases
- menstrual cramps, and regulation
- lowering blood pressure
- lowering blood sugar
- yeast overgrowth such as Candida