Healing Herb of the Week: Cinnamon

Hello everyone,

In Today’s blog, I’m continuing on with the Healing herbs fact sheets with information regarding a delicious and versatile spice, Cinnamon; which has long been used as both a food product, and for medicinal purposes since ancient Egyptian Times. It was used for purposes such as flavourings for beverages, and in combination with other spices for embalming. Ancient Chinese books mention its use as a medicinal agent dating back to 2,7000BC. Due to its high demand, discovering lands where it grew were noted as a primary motive for voyages in the 15th/16th Century. In Ayurvedic medicine within China, Korea and Russia, Cinnamon is considered warming to the internal organs and used for energy, circulation and vitality.

Did you know? Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants that protect the body from Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), or commonly referred to as free radicals within the body. Studies have found when comparing cinnamon’s antioxidant activity to 26 other spices, cinnamon was a clean winner, outranking even “superfoods” like garlic and oregano. I is so powerful that it has been used a natural food preservative for thousands of years. 

 

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Botanical Name: Cinnamonum Cassi and Ceylon Cinnamon.

Active Constituents: Essential Oil (High in cinnamaldehyde), Coumarin, Oxygenated diterperies, Proanthocyanidins.

The Cinnamaldehyde constituent (found in the EO component) is attributedwith producing most of the herbs biological effects.

Parts Used: Stem Bark

Main Actions: Anti-diabetic, Anti-inflammatory, Aromatic, Spasmolytic, Anti-microbial, Anti-bacterial, and carmitive.

Anti-Bacterial/Anti-Fungal: Helps fight bacteria and fungi including Helicobactor Pylori, Salmonella, E. Coli, Listeria and Candida, particularly within the respiratory tract, and digestive tract.

Anti-Inflammatory: Inflammtion is an incredibly important biological function in the body, however, in modern society our bodies are in a constant state of inflammation whereby the body is directing it against its own tissues, which has resulted the majority of chronic conditions including heart disease, arthritis, dysbiosis and cancers. Cinnamon can help the body fight infections and repair tissue damage caused by inflammation, which in turn may help reduce risk of inflammatory diseases.

Hypoglycaemic Activity: The water soluble polyphenolic compound called methylhydroxychalone polymer (MHCP) extracted, potentiates insulin activity by activating the key enzymes that stimulate insulin receptors while inhibiting the enzymes that deactivated them. Just a tsp (4g) daily can have significant benefits, particularly for those suffering from diabetes, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

Hyperlipidaemic: Cinnamon has been linked with reduced risk of heart disease, which is in fact the world’s most common cause of premature death. Scientifically proven to help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol within the blood stream, helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions. (1) More recently, big review studies have concluded that a cinnamon dose of 120mg/day can have these effects. (2) Animal studies have shown a reduction in blood pressure, which together drastically cut the risk of developing heart disease. (3)

Anti-emetic: Cinnamon can help to reduce nausea and may be as effect as anti-emertic drugs, without the side effects.

Carmitive: Calming effect on the stomach, ability to relax smooth muscle and reduce cramping. Helps to expel gas, which may be beneficial for flatulence and mild spasms in the digestive system.

Clinical Uses: In practice, varies medical practitioners can therapeutically use cinnamon for insulin diseases such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance, along with improving LDL/HDL ratio in cardiovascular conditions.

Neurodegenerative disease: Diseases that are characterised by progressive loss of the structure or function in brain cells. Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson disease are two of the worlds most common types of neurodegenerative diseases. Two compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease. (4) In a study looking at mice with parkinson’s disease, cinnamon helped to protect neurons, normalise neurotransmitter levels and improve motor function. (5) Although exciting news, these effects need to be further studied in human trials.

Cancer: Cinnamon has been widely studied for its potential use in cancer prevention and treatment therapies. Overall, the evidence is limited to test tube experiments and animal studies, however they do suggest that cinnamon extracts may protect cells against cancer. (6) A study in mice with colon cancer revealed cinnamon to be a potent activator of detoxifying enzymes in the colon, protecting against further cancer growth. (7) These findings have been supported by test tube experiment, which showed that cinnamon activates protective antioxidant responses in human colon cells.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): A condition that is characterised by insulin resistance, where insulin looses its effectiveness on the cells and glucose remains in the blood at high levels causing problems/imbalances in the body. Cinnamon may be beneficial for people suffering PCOS with scientific research finding cinnamon results in significant reduction in fasting glucose, as well as insulin resistance testing, with fasting glucose levels dropping by 17%. Cinnamon also helps to increase blood flow and protect female reproductive hormones from oxidative damage/stressors.

Indications: Cold, flu, diabetes, colic, dyspepsia, nausea, anorexia, diarrhoea, digestive weakness.

Caution: Pregnancy, gastro-oesophageal reflux (GORD), patients on anti-diabetic drugs. Needs to be taken away from mineral supplements, thiamine and alkaloids.

Dosage: 1.5-4g up to four times daily is considered safe.

My Final Thoughts:

Cinnamon is an incredible healing herb that, when used in as a food source, is unlikely to induce any unwanted side-effects. Cinnamon is considered one of the healthiest (and most delicious) spices on the planet. It can make a great compliment to fresh juices, curries, herbal teas, stir-frys and stews. It is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful benefits for your body and brain.

Please be advised, if you are thinking of taking a cinnamon containing supplement, to first speak to a medical professional. As a whole food nutritionist, I would always advise adding these healing herbs to your daily diet to get the optimal benefit it can offer.

Healthiest Regards,

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

Reference Studies:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14633804
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24019277
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4003790/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19433898
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24946862
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3105590/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18260732
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