We are very familiar with cinnamon as a spice used all around the world, but did you know that cinnamon actually has a lot of proven health benefits? This fine spice has been used for millennia—there are records of cinnamon in the diets of people who lived in ancient Egypt and India. Furthermore, old Chinese recipes include cinnamon, underlining its undisputable benefits for a healthy life.
A German study has shown that cinnamon indeed has many properties that have a relieving effect on an array of health issues. Cinnamon acts as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial medicine, as well as having a mild effect on the cardiovascular system, among other uses.
Although originally from Southeast Asia, cinnamon has conquered the whole world. If you’re interested in understanding why this is, check out our list of 10 amazing benefits of cinnamon.
Disputed benefits of cinnamon
Before we start our list, we would like to point out that cinnamon has made its way into the lore of many cultures. This spice has achieved great fame throughout the centuries, and there are naturally many myths and legends surrounding the capabilities of cinnamon.
One of the biggest debates has risen from the belief that cinnamon can induce the creation of insulin and in other ways help those suffering from diabetes. Probably the most significant problem is the lack of serious medical research on humans. There was a review done in Sri Lanka (the most famous producer of cinnamon) about various studies done on animals, and the results, although encouraging, were inconclusive because of the lack of clinical trials.
The U.S. Department of Health has noted a lack of studies in people that can support the use of cinnamon in treating any medical condition. Nevertheless, there are still many health benefits that cinnamon has to offer that have stood the test of time—the most important test of all.
One of the most prominent assets of cinnamon is that it is an anti-inflammatory partly thanks to cinnamaldehyde (a substance that can be found in cinnamon). An Iranian study has proven that cinnamon can reduce inflammation and muscle soreness.
Because of its ability to lower swelling and inflammation, cinnamon can be very beneficial in managing various kinds of pain, such as PMS pain, allergy-related pain, and many types of pain related to aging.
Chronic inflammation can be a cause for the development of acute neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, meningitis, etc.). This may be why in Asia, where spices are regularly consumed, certain neurodegenerative diseases aren’t as common as in the US.
2. Boosting brain power
As recent researchers imply, there seems to be a direct link between the scent of cinnamon and brain functionality. More accurately, cinnamon scent improves attention span, recognition memory, visual-motoric capabilities (response speed), and working memory.
The scent of cinnamon has even surpassed the famed peppermint and jasmine when it comes to boosting cognitive function.
An interesting fact about cinnamon is that cinnamon-flavored gum delivers the same benefits when chewed. It may seem a bit unrealistic, but chewing cinnamon can really make you smarter.
3. Soothing for sore throats
Soothing a sore throat or “coating” is a wish made by anyone who has ever come down with a cold. Did you know that cinnamon can be a real help in these situations?
The method is quite simple. Take a few cinnamon sticks and soak them in water for a short period of time. If you do it right, you will create a cinnamon water filled with a type of fiber called mucilage. The mucilage is what coats your throat as it dissolves in the water to relieve your throat pain.
Cinnamon can also help people suffering from bacterial infections that are commonly found in the throat due to its antibacterial capabilities. Centuries-old traditional Chinese medicine has long been using cinnamon as a cure for phlegmy coughs.
4. Antibacterial properties
Cinnamon is an impressive and potent antibacterial agent. According to a recent study conducted in Hong Kong, cinnamon sticks have strong antibacterial properties that are effective against foodborne bacteria. It has been proven that cinnamon can be used to preserve food even when it comes to dangerous bacteria like Salmonella and Escherichia coli.
The same properties are possible to exploit to defend the human body from illnesses. The secret lies within cinnamon oils that are used in many cultures to boost the immune system with a natural way to fight harmful infections.
Cinnamon oils are so powerful in boosting immunity that scientists are conducting studies surrounding the possibility of it reducing the risk of contracting HIV.
5. Steady supply of antioxidants
Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit the oxidation process within other molecules. In layman’s terms, antioxidants act as a safety against cellular damage, thus slowing down the aging process. There are 41 different types of antioxidants that scientists have found in cinnamon.
On the scale used to measure the amounts of antioxidants in various foods (the OTAC scale), cinnamon ranks number 7 of all types of food, spice, and herbs anywhere on the planet. When compared to other spices, cinnamon has more antioxidants than garlic, rosemary, and oregano, which are all famous for being very healthy.
When it comes to cinnamon, most of the health benefits come from polyphenols, phenolic acid, and flavonoids.
6. Breath freshener
It is proven that the extracts from cinnamon can protect your mouth against bacteria that are the main cause of tooth decay, cavities, mouth infections, and bad breath. Essential oils made from cinnamon act as a natural mouthwash with antibacterial properties.
Cinnamon, much like peppermint, is used as a natural flavor that is added to chewing gums because of its mouth refreshing capabilities. By fighting oral bacteria, cinnamon removes bad breath naturally without the need to use any unhealthy chemicals. This is the reason why traditional medicine uses cinnamon to cure toothaches and mouth sores.
Beauty products, shampoos, and perfumes also have portions of cinnamon because of its health benefits and pleasant smell.
7. Treatment or prevention of candida
Long it was suspected that because of its anti-fungal properties, cinnamon could be very effective in battling with candida growth in the digestive tract. Scientists have confirmed that cinnamon lowers the amounts of Candida Albicans (yeast responsible for candida overgrowth) that can cause damage to the digestive and autoimmune symptoms.
Also, by reducing the levels of blood sugar, cinnamon indirectly lessens the risk of candida.
Researchers have confirmed that patients who were given cinnamon extracts and essential oils showed reduced levels of candida and an improvement in symptoms. By improving the immune system and fighting inflammation in the body, cinnamon reduces the risk of candida-related illnesses.
8. Cinnamon improves skin health
Daily application of oil that contains cinnamon essence can provide a mild solution to irritation, skin allergies, and all kinds of inflammation. When combined with honey, cinnamon makes a very popular and efficient mixture (which can be used as food as well), which will help you feel much better regardless of the skin problem that you might be having. When brought down to a molecular level, cinnamon’s essence bonds with the skin molecules efficiently, thus providing a sensation of relaxation in the tissue. Many cosmetic issues can be solved with cinnamon—rosacea, pimples, and marks from scars.
9. Cinnamon keeps allergies at bay
Thanks to the advantages of the cinnamon’s compounds, studies have concluded that those with allergies can finally find relief. It’s been confirmed that cinnamon is effective in fighting against common allergy symptoms since it reduces infection and fights against histamine effects in the body. Also, for the same reason, it prevents symptoms of asthma attacks. Cinnamon is also beneficial for digestive health, and it has immune-boosting abilities, which assist in cutting down on autoimmune reactions that can affect the body after consuming common allergens.
10. Cinnamon lowers your LDL (bad cholesterol)
Cinnamon reduces the effects of fat-saturated meals in junk food, which makes those occasional binges not so dangerous. With just one small spoon of cinnamon before your junk meal, you’ll have a lessened reaction and reduced cholesterol. Cinnamon does this by growing the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood and reducing the presence of bad cholesterol, LDL. This is achieved by affecting the blood glucose and the way your body processes it. Both diabetes patients and people with higher cholesterol can experience a multitude of benefits from adding cinnamon to their diets.
Bonus: 5 Refreshing Recipes
Featured photo credit: Chamille White via shutterstock.com