Revisiting one of our favorites: Cinnamon

Cinnamon, which is generally appreciated as a spice for its good taste when added to certain foods, definitely seems to have much more going in its favor than simply pleasing your taste buds. It’s also a potent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal medicinal herb. So, simply including this spice in your cooking will add numerous health benefits to the human body.

Cinnamon is from the lauracae family and its popular name is laurus cinnamomum.

CinnamonWide

For human consumption we utilize the material coming from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum. These various evergreen “cinnamon” trees reach 20 to 30 feet on average and are located in remote areas such as Malabar, Cochin-China, Sumatra and the Eastern Islands, amongst other places. (Experts may discuss four types of cinnamon, with what is labeled ‘True cinnamon’ coming from Sri Lanka; however, in terms of our brief post on cinnamon’s health benefits, all four are closely related and share active components.)

Cinnamon has been cultivated for millinnia and its therapeutic benefits were known to many ancient civilizations. It was imported to Egypt as early as 2,000 BC, and it is mentioned several times in the Old Testament of the Bible.

The bark’s essential oils have many active components which have been tested and proven to trigger specific healing abilities. Perhaps most notably it is known for its anti-clotting actions in the blood; its anti-microbial avtivity in the body; and its stabilizing effect on blood sugar levels.

We know that the clumping of blood platelets is a normal process in order to prevent continuous bleeding, but problems may arise if these platelets excessively clump together. The active component cinnamaldehyde found in cinnamon helps prevent the disproportionate clotting in the blood by restricting the delivery of arachidonic acid.

Besides the anti-cl0tting action, the result of this chemical process shows that cinnamon has the ability to reduce inflammation; therefore it can also be viewed as an anti-inflammatory berb.

Cinnamon has also been demonstrated to be a very potent anti-microbial spice. It has the capacity to inhibit the formation and proliferation of bacteria, yeast and fungi matter. Some tests have demonstrated that in many cases cinnamon was more efficient at halting the speread of yeast than the widely-used pharmaceutical Fluconazole,  a common drug that is on the World Health Organizations’s List of Essential Medicines  (a list of the most important medication needed in a basic health system).

Based on a study which was published in the August 2003 issue of the International Journal of Food Microbiology, there are valid reasons to believe that cinnamon may also be used as a legitimate alternative to food preservatives. The study showed that only a few drops of cinnamon’s essential oils, added to around three ounces of carrot broth, prevented the development of a pathogen called bacillus cereus for a period of at least 60 days. In comparison, when the broth was left in a cold environment, but without the addition of cinnamon oils, the pathogens expanded almost immediately.

Cinnamon’s normalizing effect on blood sugar levels should make it a ‘must-have’ for anyone with type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon has been consistently shown to help people with type 2 diabetes since it enhances a positive response to insulin. A report presented by the US Agricultultural Research Service showed that with as little as half a teaspoon of cinnamon each day, participants in the study were able to show an average reduction of 20% in their blood sugar levels. Conversely, the moment cinnamon doses stopped being administered on a daily basis the sugar levels in their blood raised immediately.

So keep some cinnamon handy—for both flavoring and healing.

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