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Cinnamon: Health Benefits
Cinnamon's Health Benefits: Traditional and Modern
Cinnamon is certainly a delicious spice, but is it healthy too? In fact, cinnamon has long had a role in medicine. The Chinese have used the spice for ailments ranging from colds to flatulence and believe that it improves the circulation and promotes energy. In Ayurveda, cinnamon is again used to treat colds, but also indigestion and diabetes. It is this last claim that has made headlines in recent years.
Cinnamon and Diabetes
A 2003 study carried out in Pakistan and published in the medical journal Diabetes Care claimed to have found that a daily dose of cinnamon reduced blood sugar, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Critics counsel caution; the study group was very small and they feel that further, larger scale, studies are needed. In addition, the study did not go on to explore the long term effects of the spice. On the other hand, the study does offer hope for diabetics, there are plenty of people who can offer up anecdotal evidence of cinnamon helping them and it has been used in other cultures for centuries.
If you do decide to use cinnamon to help manage your diabetes, the common suggestion is that you use a half teaspoon a day. This should be used as an addition to an already healthy diet. Alternatively, if you can't think of how to add the spice to your food, you can take a capsule.
If you have diabetes, always check with your doctor before starting to take cinnamon as a supplement.
Chew Your Way to Better Breath with Cinnamon
More Cinnamon Health Benefits
There are plenty of claims that small doses of cinnamon are also helpful for a range of other conditions and ailments.
- Yeast infections - use cinnamon oil to alleviate the effects of thrush.
- Arthritis - a Danish university study found that half a teaspoon of cinnamon combined with a tablespoon of honey, taken before breakfast, could ease the pain of arthritis.
- Stomach upsets and diarrhoea can benefit from taking cinnamon which is said to combat the E Coli bacteria. Put a teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and honey in a cup of warm milk.
- Appetite suppressant - anecdotal evidence from some diabetics using cinnamon suggest that this is a useful side-effect.
- Bad breath - cinnamon doesn't just cover up bad breath, it actually helps fight the bacteria responsible for causing the problem.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome - there is some suggestion of a link between diabetes and PCOS, so it maybe worth using cinnamon if you have the condition.
Cinnamon for Breakfast
Choose the Right Cinnamon
Confusingly, there are four different types of cinnamon, two of which are common. Of the two, "True" or Ceylon cinnamon is less commonly available. It tends to be sweet, paler in colour, easily ground up and costs more. Ceylon cinnamon sticks roll up in a single curl. Cassia cinnamon is the type of cinnamon used in the 2003 study and fortunately it is the spice more likely to be found on sale in the USA and Europe. It is darker in colour, the quills are harder and it cannot so easily be ground up. Cassia sticks tend to have a double curl.
Side-Effects: When Not to Use Cinnamon
- Pregnant and breast-feeding women should NOT use cinnamon
- After surgery - because it affects blood sugar
- If you have liver disease - it contains chemicals that can be harmful if you have liver problems.
- If you are diabetic check with your medical practitioner.
How to Make Cinnamon Tea
One of the simplest ways to add cinnamon to your diet is to make cinnamon tea. It's fragrant and refreshing and looks rather appealing too. Here's how to make it.
Ingredients: 1 cinnamon stick and 1 cup of boiling water
Break the cinnamon stick into pieces and put it into the cup. Pour on the boiling water, cover and allow to brew for 10 minutes. Top up the cup with hot water throughout the day.
You may find that you want to increase or decrease the amount of cinnamon stick that you use. If you want to sweeten it, use honey, which will also add an anti-bacterial benefit too.