As a spice, we all love to sprinkle it over lattes and toasts for infusing a sweet aromatic flavor into them. But, what if we told you that cinnamon could actually be used as an ingredient for natural therapy? In this article we have outlined some very interesting facts about the spice, epically when seen from the prism of general health.
Cinnamon is a spicy and fragrant tree bark, derived from the Cinnamomum family of plants. Available throughout the year, it’s made by first removing the outer bark of the cinnamon tree and then bruising the soft inner bark with a metal rod so as to scrape the layers off with ease. The latter is then rolled into a coil and dried into ‘cinnamon sticks’.
A term that’s most associated with the spice is ‘true cinnamon’, which in all fairness is a colloquial reference to Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon cinnamon) grown in Sri Lanka. True cinnamon usually has a strong flavor and aroma.
There is yet another variety known as ‘Cassia’ corresponding to the Cannamomum aromaticum strain originating from Southern China. Typically cheaper and less fragrant, Cassia sticks are also much spicier and therefore preferred in its grounded form when it concerns exotic and savory cuisines.
Cinnamon Health Benefits
The typical pro-health aspects of cinnamon may be stripped down to the essential oils like cinnamyl acetate, cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl alcohol etcetera, along with a range of other chemical substances contained in it.
These positive effects of cinnamon on general health are discussed in detail below:
Anti-Microbial Ability: According to studies, it was found that certain extracts derived from cinnamon can arrest the growth of bacteria, fungi and certain type of yeasts from breeding within the body and infecting it further.
In similar light, a study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology issue in 2003 demonstrated how a few drops of cinnamon derived essential oil mixed into carrot broth could stop the growth of “B.cereus”, a food based pathogen under refrigeration for two whole months.
Anti-clotting Activity: Clotting is an automatic response to surface injury whereby special cells within the blood called platelets clump together to form a webbing of sorts to first reduce and gradually stop blood loss from the affected region. However, when this mechanism is activated in abnormal conditions, it can clog blood pathways, which will require administration of anti-clotting agents to reverse the effect.
In that respect, cinnmaldehyde in cinnamon acts as a natural anti-clotting agent and its specific manner of dealing with the clotting mechanisms even gives it some power to deal with inflammations within the body.
Blood Sugar Control: When the stomach processes the meal that you’ve just eaten, there is sudden rise in the sugar quantum carried in the blood to different parts of the body, which in unwanted scenarios can lead to pre-diabetic conditions, heart attack, kidney failure etc.
When cinnamon is added to a high carb diet, it effectively slows down the meal processing rate of the stomach and therefore brings down the effective blood sugar level.
Boost To Brain Function: A research presented by an eminent doctor in 2004 meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences demonstrated how smelling cinnamon or even chewing cinnamon flavored gum could positively affect higher cognitive processing of the brain. Simply put, the higher thinking capabilities of the brain experienced a slight boost from the scent of the spice!
Healthy Colon: Apart from essential oils, cinnamon also comes graciously packed with fiber, manganese and calcium (to a certain extent). Now, calcium and fiber together prove very effective in removing bile salts from the body, thereby preventing damage to colon (intestine).
Final Thoughts On This Medicinal Spice
Be it in the role of a panacea for the Ancient Egyptian healers or a treatment for cough, sore throat and even arthritis for doctors in Medieval Europe, cinnamon has been actively employed in a medicinal capacity throughout the ages.
Even today, the spice plays an important role in both Ayurveda (Indian herbal therapy) as well as Oriental medicine. In fact, many family recipes still employ cinnamon powder or sticks in foods or beverages to produce that natural warming effect in the body.
What do you think about cinnamon and it’s health benefits? Have you used this spice in your desserts or you don’t really like it?
Please share your thoughts in the comments section bellow.Tags: arthritis, blood sugar, cinnamon, colon, health, health benefits