What are the health benefits and harms of cinnamon?

The article was commented by Shavkat Nurmatov, gastroenterologist, family doctor, therapist, endoscopist GMS Clinic

What is cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the bark of evergreen trees in the cinnamon family. They grow in South America and Southeast Asia. The soft part is cut off from the inside of the bark, then the plates are folded in dark places. When dried, they are rolled into tubes, which are then cut; their length can be from 5 to 12 cm. In ground form, the spice is used not only in cooking, but also in medicine, cosmetology, and also as a food additive.

Types of cinnamon

There are two main types of cinnamon: Ceylon and cassia.

Cassia comes from Chinese cinnamon, which grows in southern China. When ready, it is dark brown in color with a reddish tint and has a richer aroma. Cassia sticks are thicker and coarser than Ceylon ones. It is believed that they are of lower quality, are cheaper and can be found on sale much more often.

Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the bark of evergreen trees in the cinnamon family.

© pixabay

Ceylon cinnamon is grown in Sri Lanka and southern India: it is made from the inner bark of the Ceylon cinnamon plant. It is deeper brown in color and also milder in taste and smell.

The intensity of these parameters is determined by the chemical cinnamaldehyde, which is 95% in Chinese cinnamon oil, and approximately 50–63% in Ceylon cinnamon. [1].

Cinnamon comes in the form of tubes or ground

Cinnamon comes in the form of tubes or ground

© pxhere

Cinnamon calories and nutritional value

According to the USDA, a 2.6 g teaspoon of ground cinnamon contains [2]:

It also contains vitamins B, K and antioxidants: choline, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

But we usually don’t eat cinnamon with spoons, so the nutrients it contains enter the body in minimal quantities.

Health benefits of cinnamon: 5 properties

Some studies have shown that compounds found in cinnamon have health benefits, such as helping to reduce inflammation and fight bacteria and germs.

1. Antioxidant properties

Due to their high antioxidant content, cinnamon and cinnamon oil may help treat some fungal infections.

Research has shown that cinnamon oil is effective against candida fungus, which negatively affects health. [3]. If further scientific experiments yield the same result, cinnamon oil could be used in the treatment of this type of fungus.

2. Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease

Some animal studies have shown that cinnamon may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The bark contains CEppt extract, which scientists believe may prevent the development of symptoms. [4]. Mice treated with it showed a reduction in signs of Alzheimer’s disease, such as amyloid plaques.

If data emerges that definitively confirm the extract’s effectiveness, it could be useful in developing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Prevention of multiple sclerosis

As part of the experiment, mice were given a mixture of cinnamon powder and water and carried out several tests. It turns out that cinnamon may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the central nervous system. [5].

Research has also shown that it may protect T cells, which regulate immune responses. In experiments on mice, taking the powder prevented the loss of certain proteins in them. [6].

In multiple sclerosis, the myelin sheath of the nerve fibers of the brain and spinal cord is affected. The scientists also found that in mice with the disease, the spice helped restore myelin levels. But more studies in humans are needed to make more accurate conclusions.

Cinnamon is added to baked goods, desserts, drinks, hot savory dishes

Cinnamon is added to baked goods, desserts, drinks, hot savory dishes

© pexels

4. Helps digest fatty foods

Researchers have concluded that diets rich in spices high in antioxidants, such as cinnamon, help reduce the effects of eating fatty foods. [7].

Six people included in their diet meals containing 14 g of a mixture of spices. Blood tests showed that antioxidant activity increased by 13%, insulin response fell by 21%, and triglycerides decreased by 31%. [8].

5. Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease

Various compounds found in cinnamon may benefit the cardiovascular system. Cinnamaldehyde, for example, lowered blood pressure in animals.

In rats that received long-term treatment including cinnamon and exercise, the cardiovascular system began to function better [9].

But more data is needed to make final conclusions.

Cinnamon oil

Cinnamon oil is obtained from the bark or leaves. It contains compounds and phytochemicals such as cinnamaldehyde and eugenol.

It may also provide health benefits.

Has antibacterial properties. A study using bacterial cultures found that compounds in cinnamon oil had antimicrobial effects against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a drug-resistant bacterium that affects plants, humans and animals. [10].

Supports oral health. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of cinnamon have been found to be effective against Streptococcus mutans and Candida ssp biofilm, two bacteria that cause oral infections and dental caries [11].

Disinfects. The antibacterial properties of cinnamon oil make it a safe, effective, and chemical-free alternative to additives used as preservatives. Study finds cinnamon oil can be used effectively as a preservative in cosmetics, toiletries and hospital disinfectants [12].

Warm drinks with cinnamon relieve headaches, increase sweating, ease breathing, and help relieve swelling of the nasal mucosa

Warm drinks with cinnamon relieve headaches, increase sweating, ease breathing, and help relieve swelling of the nasal mucosa

© pexels

Side effects and harm of cinnamon

Cinnamon contains coumarin. This is a natural flavoring and is part of warfarin, a blood thinning drug.

Consuming too much coumarin can cause liver damage and affect blood clotting. Therefore, cinnamon, like any other product, should not be overused. You should consult your doctor before adding it to your diet if:

  • you are taking anticoagulants;
  • have diabetes;
  • have liver disease.

Cinnamon oil Do not use too often: it is a fairly strong allergen. Side effects from overdose include skin rash and burning sensation.

It should not be applied directly to the skin unless diluted with a carrier oil, mixed with water and added to the bath: it may cause burns and irritation to the skin and mucous membranes.

Doctor’s comment

What are the health benefits and harms of cinnamon?

Shavkat Nurmatov, gastroenterologist, family doctor, therapist, endoscopist GMS Clinic

What are the benefits of cinnamon? Can it really contribute to the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis?

Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants, which protect the body from oxidative damage from free radicals. Cinnamon is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties due to its flavonoid compounds. Therefore, it can help with inflammation, as well as in the prevention of diseases of the central nervous system, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Alas, to date there is no evidence base on the effectiveness of cinnamon in relation to these diseases.

Who should not indulge in cinnamon and what are the side effects?

The coumarin contained in cinnamon can cause a hepatotoxic effect, and cinnamaldehyde can cause a local allergic reaction in the oral cavity in the form of gum damage, ulcers, white plaque, itching and burning. It is also believed that cinnamon can mimic the actions of insulin. Given these effects of cinnamon, people with chronic liver diseases, those prone to allergic reactions and patients with diabetes should be careful.

How useful is the spice for colds? In folk medicine, for example, it is used as a cough remedy.

Yes, cinnamon will help relieve colds and flu. Warm drinks with cinnamon relieve headaches, increase sweating, ease breathing, and help relieve swelling of the nasal mucosa.

There is an opinion that with the help of cinnamon you can normalize weight – is it really possible to use cinnamon for weight loss or is it still a myth?

Cinnamon can enhance metabolism in the body and reduce appetite, which makes it possible to use it in diet programs along with limiting fast carbohydrates and fats.

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