The Natural Sweetener
When most of us think of cinnamon (cinnamomum zeylanicum) we think of happy childhood, nostalgic thoughts. Christmas…hot winter drinks…a warm sweater…scented candles…pure bliss. Cinnamon is terrific! But most people don’t know the health benefits of cinnamon. The Chinese have known about the health benefits of cinnamon for millennia. The Indians have used it in their Ayurvedic medicine for a long time as well. The Ancient Greeks & Egyptians brought it to the West and later it was one of the most sought-after spices in the European spice trade.
(Read our article on the health benefits of Garlic.)
The primary health benefits of cinnamon is that it is a natural sweetener. Forget cane sugar or even stevia..sprinkling ample amounts of cinnamon on your food sweeten it but don’t spike your blood sugar and insulin levels. It brings a subtle sweetness to the palate.
Other Health Benefits of Cinnamon:
- Strong antimicrobial agent
- Natural anesthetic to numb pain
- Lowers heart disease
- Regulates blood sugar levels (for diabetics)
- Lowers bad LDL cholesterol
- Chock-full of antioxidants to fight against cancer
- Fights against respiratory illnesses (sinus infections, bronchitis, the common cold)
- Speeds up peristalsis & digestion
- Fights against digestive maladies (heartburn, flatulence, indigestion, even intestinal parasites.)
- Increases the appetite
- Strengthens the immune system
- Good combatant against head lice & scabies
- Improves blood circulation
- Improves cognition & stimulates the mind
- Fights depression
- Sprinkle on top of any food item to get the ingested benefit
- Concoct it into a tea (or buy cinnamon tea)
- Cinnamon pills
- Apply directly onto cuts (sprinkle amply onto a wound before dressing it)
- Cinnamon leaf essential oil is potent. Blend 1% in dilution and use sparingly. (Cinnamon bark essential oil is potent and might irritate the skin; therefore, is not recommended.)
Incidentally, two forms of cinnamon predominate: the Ceylon and Chinese (cassia) varieties. The cassia variety, which is the one you are likely to find at the grocery store, is a little more pungent & boasts slightly higher benefits. Cassia features coumarin, an active compound which may cause liver damage to those people who are sensitive to it. For these few people ingesting less than a tablespoon is ideal. The Ceylon variety is classically seen as the better variety for its slightly milder flavor and lower amounts of coumarin.
Cinnamon is one of those spices & herbs that you must incorporate into your diet daily (along with turmeric). The health benefits of cinnamon are well-established. If money is no object seek out the Ceylon varieites; if it is, Cassia will do just fine. By sprinkling loads of cinnamon onto your food you hopefully will have happy memories, both nostalgic and new, for many years to come.
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A. Gregory Luna (call me Gregory)
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