Health Benefits of Cinnamon
By Amber Plante
Cinnamon has been used for thousands of years to add flavor and also for many medicinal and ceremonial purposes. It was used for embalming in Egypt, as a treatment for digestive ailments, and as a fragrance during funeral ceremonies in ancient Rome1.
Now, scientific research is revealing that cinnamon also has health benefits. Most prominently, cinnamon consumption has been shown to improve symptoms in type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and cholesterol levels. Cinnamon seems to mimic the effects of insulin, allowing the body to remove glucose from the bloodstream4,12. Cinnamon has also been shown to reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood, which can be dysregulated in diabetics among others2. Cinnamon can also improve sugar balance in the brain, which helps to improve cognitive functions. Studies in animals show that cinnamon alone protects brain cells from the harmful effects of a high sugar diet, including high levels of sugars in the blood and reduced sugar utilization in brain cells3.
Even in healthy individuals, drinking cinnamon tea after dinner can also reduce blood sugar levels at night, which can protect your metabolism, prevent metabolic disease, and promote weight loss6,7,12. Additionally, this spice appears to reduce appetite, which is a great way to curb late-night snacking. The amounts of cinnamon required in these studies ranges from a few milligrams to 3 grams. There are various cinnamon extracts that can be easily dissolved in water, making it easy to take large amounts as a dietary supplement5.
Other studies show that cinnamon can decrease stiffness in arteries5, reduce inflammation8, and act as an antioxidant9. The exact amounts of cinnamon required for these health effects aren't yet known and further research is needed to determine the full effect of cinnamon compounds on the body10,11. Nevertheless, these studies show results that are promising for using cinnamon as a natural therapeutic product.
1Kawatra P., Rajagopalan R. “Cinnamon: Mystic powers of a minute ingredient.” Pharmacognosy Research. 2015;7(Suppl 1):S1-S6. doi:10.4103/0974-8490.157990.
2Allen, Robert W., et al. “Cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis.” The Annals of Family Medicine 11.5 (2013): 452-459.
3Anderson, Richard A., et al. “Cinnamon counteracts the negative effects of a high fat/high fructose diet on behavior, brain insulin signaling and Alzheimer-associated changes.” (2013): e83243.
4Howard, Molly E., and Nicole D. White. "Potential Benefits of Cinnamon in Type 2 Diabetes." American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine 7.1 (2013): 23-26.
5Markey, Oonagh, et al. "Effect of cinnamon on gastric emptying, arterial stiffness, postprandial lipemia, glycemia, and appetite responses to high-fat breakfast." Cardiovascular diabetology 10.1 (2011): 78.
6Medagama, Arjuna B. "The glycaemic outcomes of Cinnamon, a review of the experimental evidence and clinical trials." Nutrition journal 14.1 (2015): 108.
7Bernardo, Maria Alexandra, et al. "Effect of Cinnamon Tea on Postprandial Glucose Concentration." Journal of diabetes research 2015 (2015).
8Hong, Joung-Woo, et al. "Anti-inflammatory activity of cinnamon water extract in vivo and in vitro LPS-induced models." BMC complementary and alternative medicine 12.1 (2012): 237.
9Mancini-Filho, J., et al. "Antioxidant activity of cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, Breyne) extracts." Bollettino chimico farmaceutico 137.11 (1998): 443-447.
10Rafehi, H., K. Ververis, and T. C. Karagiannis. "Controversies surrounding the clinical potential of cinnamon for the management of diabetes." Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism 14.6 (2012): 493-499.
11Gruenwald, Joerg, Janine Freder, and Nicole Armbruester. "Cinnamon and health." Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 50.9 (2010): 822-834.
12Jitomir, Jean, and Darryn S. Willoughby. "Cassia cinnamon for the attenuation of glucose intolerance and insulin resistance resulting from sleep loss." Journal of medicinal food 12.3 (2009): 467-472.