Crazy for Cinnamon!

As I walked into the grocery store yesterday, I was greeted by the delicious aroma of cinnamon!  Cinnamon is one of those spices that whisks me back to wonderful moments in my childhood…

Whether it’s with mom sitting at the kitchen table savoring a wonderful cup of hot cocoa infused with cinnamon, twirling a cinnamon stick in a warm cup of milk before bed time, taking in the delicious aroma that filled my grandma’s kitchen during our summer visits in Texas or chewing on a cinnamon stick while exploring the ranch in New Mexico … it fills me with warmth and real sense of “home”.

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[Photo Credit: Sam Mugraby, Photos8.com [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

I LOVE the sweet and spicy taste of cinnamon ! And yes, I too, use it frequently at home — in pancakes, just about anything I bake, in chicken or pork dishes, and almost daily in my morning protein shake.  A teaspoon of cinnamon is one of the most effective natural ways to regulate blood sugar.  Since I had gestational diabetes I am at greater risk for developing regular diabetes so I am careful with my nutrition and I am happy to add a little cinnamon to my daily diet.

I’ve always used cinnamon for cooking but it’s only recently that I have discovered how many amazing health and healing properties this divine spice actually contains. Cinnamon has been used for centuries all across the world as an herbal supplement and in natural medicine.

Most of the healing properties of cinnamon can be found in the bark of the cinnamon tree.  Essential oils from the leaf are also quite potent.

I’ve never seen a cinnamon tree but I hear they are quite beautiful! Standing 30 to 60 feet tall they can be found in India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and the West Indies.

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[Photo Credit:MediaJet (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

Young twigs from the cinnamon tree, along with the soft reddish-brown bark are collected and allowed to ferment in the field before they are gathered for drying.  These are then ground into a fine powder that can be used as a spice or as a natural remedy for a number of ailments. You can also find cinnamon quills (the small dried twigs) at your local grocery store and they are wonderful to chew on. In fact, chewing on a cinnamon stick will do wonders for your little one who suffers from a tummy ache, and they are much tastier than Tums!

There are three ingredients in the essential oil found in the bark of the cinnamon tree that make it such a versatile and wonderful natural remedy. These are cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol.  Cinnamon oil is aantibacterial, antifungal and promotes gastric motility and is frequently used in Ayurvedic medicine for toothaches, nausea, vomiting, and general stomach upset.

Here are just a few more of cinnamon’s wonderful health benefits:

Cinnamon is anti-clogging

If you suffer from PMS symptoms, especially cramping, cinnamon could be your new best friend!  Until the twentieth century, cinnamon tinctures were frequently used to treat fibroids and other menstrual problems.  This is due to the cinnamaldehyde which inhibits thromboxane A2, the substance in our blood that causes platelets to clump together and form clots. Less clotting leads to better blood flow and less pain. This also makes cinnamon a wonderful choice as a natural anti-inflamatory.

Cinnamon slows the growth of cancer cells

In several laboratory studies, two chemicals from the cinnamon essential oil, camphorin and cinnamonin, are showing promise in natural cancer treatment. In one of these studies published by researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture in Maryland in 2006, when cinnamon powder was sprinkled onto tumors, they began to shrink! [read more here] Indeed, cinnamon appears to stimulate the body’s production of tumor necrosis factor, a function of our immune system that fights cancer. In animal testing cinnamon has been shown to be effective in fighting a variety of cancer cells, including melanoma and liver cancer.

Cinnamon regulates blood sugar

This is probably the most widely recognized benefit of cinnamon from a medical stand point and quite promising for people suffering from type 2 diabetes. Indeed it appears that cinnamon enhances our body’s ability to metabolize glucose 20 fold!  Cinnamon also “slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, reducing the rise in blood sugar after eating” [The world’s healthiest foods ]

Now that does not in any way mean that cinnamon is a cure for Diabetes. And of course a healthy lifestyle with proper diet, hydration, sleep and exercise is key in reducing your risk of becoming diabetic or controlling the disease if you have it.

Cinnamon boosts cognitive brain function

When it comes to boosting brain power, it is the scent of cinnamon that seems to be the most effective.  Perhaps that is why all my senses seem to awaken when I smell the sweet fragrance of cinnamon…

In a 2004 study led by Dr. P. Zoladz at Wheeling Jesuit University, researchers found that “Cinnamon (…) improved participants’ scores on tasks related to attentional processes, virtual recognition memory, working memory and visual-motor response speed” [Cinnamon boosts brain activity]

It seems that just unwrapping a stick of cinnamon gum and taking in it’s scent can do wonders for our kids ability to focus and retain information, and perform well on tests… am I suggesting our kids chew gum in class?  Of course not, but a drop of cinnamon essential oil on their wrist may not be so bad…

I have always loved cinnamon, but I have to say I appreciate it even more  now that I have discovered how many healing properties it offers!

What are your favorite uses for cinnamon?

 

 

 

Comments

  1. I’ve yet to meet anyone who is able to walk past a Cinnabon! Ha! But honestly I make a tea of honey and cinnamon every day…it’s helps the aching bones and it fills the house with such a wonderful smell!

    • Haha, that is so true! I can’t take the girls to Ikea without purchasing fresh cinnamon buns! It’s truly a guilty pleasure.. to ease the guilt I tell myself that the cinnamon will at least help to keep their blood sugar from spiking 🙂 Cinnamon and honey tea sounds delicious! And yea! for keeping aches and pains at bay. Stay healthy 🙂

  2. I LOVE cinnamon and my kids do too. I try and put in just about everything if I can, definitely in my morning coffee. It’s amazing how many natural things that we take for granted around us that have such amazing healing properties.

    • It so true Kim, we are surrounded but so many tasty and healthy foods! What a blessing. I love finding out that something I enjoy is so good for me.. I’m going to have to try cinnamon in my morning coffee, that sounds delicious!

  3. Great article on the benefits of cinnamon! I personally use cinnamon in my morning oatmeal, but I might have to try it in my coffee as well!

    I typically use the ground cinnamon, but I think I may buy the sticks just to chew on or soak in some tea. After reading this article I’m definitely going to try to add more cinnamon to my diet!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this Tim. My girls LOVE cinnamon in their morning oatmeal or quinoa, with some cut up apples and walnuts, perhaps some dried cranberries… yum! Cinnamon twigs are fun to chew on, and an added benefit of that is that they keep your breath smelling sweet 🙂 Enjoy!

  4. Interesting. I don’t like too much cinnamon but may need to have more after reading this!

  5. Nothing says holidays like the smell of cinnamon! I sprinkle it on my oatmeal and use it in soups, but I am going to be conscious about adding it more often to even more foods. Who knew it was so good for us!
    Now if I could just remember how to spell cinnamon!

    • Grace I don’t think I’ve ever used cinnamon in soups. What a wonderful idea! Thank you for the inspiration.. Do you have a favorite recipe? Haha I think I’ve been challenge with the spelling of it as well… Happy Holidays!

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