Cinnamon is the second most popular spice after black pepper in the United States, especially during fall and winter. People enjoy using cinnamon to elevate the taste of food. Did you know the cinnamon in your favorite gingerbread latte was once considered a rare, high-end, luxurious item only noble pharaohs could enjoy?
In ancient China, cinnamon was widely used for treating multiple diseases. Recent studies have found that cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-tumor effects. It reduces the risk of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Cinnamon is the dried bark of cinnamon trees. It belongs to Cinnamomum camphora (L.) Presl spruces. Cinnamon has been used worldwide for thousands of years. It was documented even in the Bible and ancient books of Egypt and China.
In Egypt, people would incorporate cinnamon for preservation and religious rituals. Among Europeans in the Middle Ages, having cinnamon showed off your societal status if you could afford it.
In ancient China, according to the book of “The Divine Farmer’s Classic of Materia Medica” which is a most important classic in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), cinnamon carries a spicy, warm, nontoxic flavor. In TCM, cinnamon is a medicinal herb for warming the spleen, kidney, heart, and liver meridians and unblocking veins. Cinnamon is also a natural pain killer and widely used for treating multiple diseases.
TCM has discovered that there are 12 “meridians” in the human body, including lung meridian, large intestine meridian, stomach meridian, spleen meridian, heart meridian, small intestine meridian, bladder meridian, kidney meridian, pericardium meridian, triple heater (san jiao) meridian, gallbladder meridian, liver meridian.
Meridians are responsible for transporting “qi” (vital energy) and “blood” throughout the body. The two substances of qi and blood circulate to maintain balance and stability in various tissues and organs. Therefore, warming the meridian could benefit the transportation of the “qi” and “blood” and help keep healthy.
Due to its multipurpose nature, cinnamon is one of the most popular herbs that TCM doctors use to adjust overall wellness.
The Superpower of Cinnamon
Several scientific studies have found that cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-tumor effects. It regulates blood glucose, reduces cholesterol, balances the immune system, and benefits the cardiovascular system. The study also pointed out cinnamon can reduce the risk of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Lin Yipu, a YunDing Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic clinician, said that cinnamon has six scientifically proven effects.
(1) Promotes Metabolism
Many office workers like to add a little cinnamon powder to their coffee for its fragrant aroma. Not only can cinnamon add an additional boost to their coffee because of its metabolic promotion, but cinnamon also increases fullness and inhibits appetite to improve weight loss.
(2) Lowers Blood Lipids and Fights Diabetes
A study found that consuming 200mg of cinnamon per kilogram of body weight for six consecutive weeks significantly decreased the concentration of triglyceride (TG) and the total cholesterol in the subject’s blood.
The polyphenols in cinnamon boost lipid metabolism and inhibit liver lipid peroxidation.
(3) Inhabit Bacteria Growth
Studies show that cinnamon has various antibacterial properties and has been shown to act on Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhoid, and some fungi as well.
(4) Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Cancer, and Anti-Tumor Effects
The research results show that cinnamon has anti-inflammatory effects. It reduces inflammation by activating Peroxidase body growth living receptors (PPARs) and inhibiting COX-2 and NF-kappaB activities. Meanwhile, inhibiting the production of these two substances in the body could prevent the development of cancer cells.
(5) Improves the Digestive System
Cinnamon improves appetite, relieves bloating, and boosts digestion, and stimulates gastrointestinal and bowel movement.
Simultaneously, cinnamon oil protects the gastrointestinal from free radical damage while reducing the risk of gastric ulcers. Other valuable properties of cinnamon oil (which is often called oleum cinnamomi): it inhibits Helicobacter pylori’s growth and reduces the risk of chronic gastritis and stomach cancer.
(6) Potential to Treat Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease
Research has found that cinnamon can enhance brain-derived neurotrophic factors BDNF and NT-3 in the brain, thus protecting cells and slowing down oxidation, which is expected to be one of the treatments for Parkinson’s disease. In addition, cinnamon can reduce abnormal Tau protein aggregation and nerve fiber formation in the brain, thus achieving the goal of preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Adding Cinnamon to Your Daily Diet
(1) Combining cinnamon and dessert is the most common way people enjoy cinnamon. Add cinnamon powder in dessert makings, such as cinnamon rolls, apple pie, muffins, and cinnamon on French toast.
(2) Season breakfast porridge, soup, barbecue, curry, and other dishes with cinnamon.
(3) Add cinnamon sticks to drinks, whether coffee, black tea, hot cocoa, or even red wine. Or you can sprinkle cinnamon on your pumpkin latte.
Dr. Lin said, “although cinnamon has many benefits, if consumed excessively, like many other things, it might cause side effects. The amount of coumarin in cinnamon is relatively high. Overconsumption for an extended period may cause Hepatotoxicity, which is liver toxicity. It will injure the liver and kidneys. Therefore, it is best to consume cinnamon within 6g (0.2 ounces) daily.
Who Should Avoid Cinnamon
Dr. Lin also said hat patients with yin deficiency and intense heat in the body, pregnancy, and hemorrhagic diseases should avoid cinnamon, or it might cause more significant dryness, heat, and bleeding.
Pregnant women should be careful of overeating cinnamon can cause toxic harm to both mothers and babies.
Cinnamon is also a natural blood thinner, so anyone on blood thinners should consult their physician before taking cinnamon in any significant amount.