Almonds and Olivez

Cinnamon – Five (5) ‘Must-Know’ Researched Health Benefits Plus Side Effects!

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Cinnamon is a common spice that can really spice up your life, cuisine, and health. This is because research has shown that it has many potent health benefits.  A major benefit of cinnamon is its potential to lower blood glucose levels. It is also known to help with high blood pressure. Two (2) ill-health conditions that have been labelled health risks and growing health concerns, globally.  Cinnamon is also used as a flavouring agent for many food kinds, such as pastries, sauces, and beverages.

Many parts of the cinnamon have been extracted and used commercially. These include its bark and oil. So, what are some of the benefits of this age-old spice?  Let’s discuss!

You can learn about the different types of cinnamon and which is best in this post:

 

The Discussion

Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the inner bark of several trees of the cinnamon species. It is often used in a wide variety of aromatic condiments and flavourings due to its sweet and savoury flavour.  In fact, it has been used for centuries as a culinary ingredient as well as medicine due to its purported benefits of controlling the symptoms of diabetes, high blood pressure other health issues (Singletary, 2019).

Reportedly, over Two Hundred and Fifty (250) species of the cinnamon genus have been recognized from all over the world (Sangal, 2011).  However, there are reportedly about four (4) species that have been commonly used or sold commercially.  These are Cinnamomum verum or Sri Lankan/Ceylon cinnamon as it is more popularly known.  Then there is Cinnamomum cassia (better known as Chinese cinnamon) Indonesian or Java Cinnamon and Saigon/Vietnamese cinnamon (Chen P, et al. 2014; Gruenwald et al. 2010 etc.).

All these different species will give rise to different constituents of the oil or extracts of the cinnamon (Chen P, et al. 2014; Gruenwald et al. 2010 etc.).  Some of the main constituents of the species of cinnamon include cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid, and polyphenol polymers among others. These are the compounds that contribute to the many health benefits of the spice (Chen P, et al. 2014; Gruenwald et al. 2010 etc.).  However, the most important constituent is trans-cinnamaldehyde or cinnamaldehyde (Yeh et al. 2013). This ingredient is usually found in the essential oil and contributes to the diverse biological components of cinnamon (Yeh et al. 2013).

About Eighty-one (81%) percent of cinnamon is carbohydrates with Fifty-three (53%) percent being that of dietary fiber.  It is also said to be a rich source of calcium, iron, vitamin K, protein, and a little fat (due to its oil content) (Kawatra and Rajagopalan, 2015; Han and Parker, 2017; etc.). Cinnamon leaf also reportedly contains a high amount of eugenol and many of the compounds found in the bark and oil. Eugenol is an aromatic oily liquid that is usually extracted from cinnamon and cloves (Šernaitė et al. 2020).

In this article, we will be exploring five (5) researched benefits of consuming cinnamon. This includes its effect on blood glucose levels, and high blood pressure, its anti-bacterial, its positive effects on the cardiovascular system, as well as both its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.    We will also explore any noted side effects of consuming this spice.  A detailed post on the types of cinnamon will be explored in a subsequent post.

Five (5)  ‘Must-Know’ Health Benefits of Consuming Cinnamon:
  • May help to Lower Blood Glucose (Diabetes)
  • May help to lower Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • It is Anti-inflammatory
  • High in Antioxidants
Cinnamon and Diabetes

Diabetes is reportedly steadily becoming a grave health concern, globally. While there are medications available to manage the disease, research has shown that many natural substances may be able to help manage the disease or use complementary therapy.   Cinnamon is one such natural remedy.   Research has shown that cinnamon may be able to improve blood glucose levels and hence the management of type-2 diabetes (Lee and Balick, 2005).  

Several studies purport that cinnamon extract was able to both lower blood glucose levels as well as cholesterol levels of study participants (Blevins et al. 2007; Khan et al. 2003; Safdar et al. 2004; Crawford, 2009, etc.).  The typical dose for the lowering of blood glucose levels is said to be around ½ to 2 teaspoons per day (Lee and Balick, 2005).

A research by Anderson et al (2004) showed that certain isolated compounds of cinnamon such as the purified polymers or hydroxychalcone were able to stimulate the oxidation of glucose (Jarvill-Taylor, et al. 2001; Anderson et al. 2006). This is because these compounds were able to act like insulin-like molecules (Anderson et al. 2004).  Several polyphenols have also been isolated from cinnamon such as rutin, catechin and quercetin (Yang et al. 2012; Li et al. 2008). These polyphenols when purified displayed insulin-like activity (Cao et al. 2007).

Nonetheless, some studies have not shown favourable outcomes of cinnamon when it comes to the lowering of glucose levels. One such was a study conducted with post-menopausal women who were diabetic. In this study, the supplementation of cinnamon actually showed poor glycemic control (Vanschoonbeek and Thomassen, 2006).  But would the results be the same if the participants were supplied with natural cinnamon instead of a supplement? Nonetheless, researchers do contend that cinnamon is considered generally useful for those suffering from diabetes.  As such, poor glycemic control may be due to dosage, the type of cinnamon as well as the glucose and lipid levels used as baseline.

As such, current studies have shown that dosages of 5, 10, and 20 mg/kg of a substance called linalool (a chemotype of the Taiwan cinnamon) (Bing-Ho Cheng et al. 2018), may help to manage glycemic control in persons suffering from diabetes due to its ability to improve the secretion of insulin (Lee et al. 2013).  Therefore, it wouldn’t hurt to sprinkle some cinnamon on your varied food kinds when needed.

Here is a recipe you can try with a little dash of cinnamon:
Cinnamon and High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is also a critical public health concern, globally.  It is often described as the ‘silent killer’ as persons often do not know of their situation and thus, may not seek treatment (He and Whelton, 1997).  High blood pressure was denoted as the leading risk factor for mortality and the third risk factor for the burden of disease, globally (Ezzati et al. 2002).

Animal studies have shown that cinnamon may have the potential to lower blood pressure. This was observed as way back as in 1975 in a study by Mastoshi and Shingo. In this study, one of the main constituents of cinnamon – cinnamaldehyde was shown to create a hypotensive effect in the body (Mastoshi and Shingo, 1975). Research also shows that cinnamaldehyde was able to prevent the development of hypertension in persons suffering from both type 1 and type 11 diabetes (El-Bassossy et al. 2011).

This is because it reportedly can reduce vascular contractility (the contraction of the vascular).  This, in turn, helps to regulate the size of the blood vessels, and thus one’s blood pressure (El-Bassossy et al. 2011).  To this extent, having cinnamon as part of your wellness regimen may help to decrease systolic blood pressure (the number at the top of the equation). This was also observed in a study with hypertensive rats who consume sugar. It was also able to reduce the systolic blood pressure of hypotensive rats who consumed a non-sugar diet (Gruenwald et al. 2010). 

You can read more on blood pressure and what the different numbers represent in this detailed article:
Cinnamon and Cardiovascular Health

Several active compounds isolated from different species of the cinnamon genus have been shown to have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system.  One such is the active compound – 2-methoxycinnamaldehyde (z-MCA).  This compound was taken from the C. Cassia species (Hwa et al. 2012).  The compound was shown to reduce or improve ischemia.  Additionally, two (2) more compounds found in the C. Cassia species were shown to protect against myocardial ischemia (Song et al. 2013).  These compounds – cinnamic aldehyde and cinnamic acid were purported to have the potential to treat cardiovascular diseases.

Nonetheless, the main compound of cinnamon – cinnamaldehyde reportedly has a protective effect on the cardiovascular system (Yu et al. 1994).  One of its main attributes is that it creates a hypotensive effect on the body as was shown in animal studies conducted with both dogs and guinea pigs (Harada and Yano, 1975).  This hypotensive effect was because the compounds were able to induce vasodilation, which can smooth vascular muscles and help with blood pressure control (Xue et al. 2011).   Cinnamaldehyde was also shown to prevent the progression of hypertension in persons suffering from both type 1 and 2 diabetes (El-Bassossy et al. 2011).

Cinnamon and its Anti-inflammatory Properties

The antioxidants in cinnamon such as polyphenols, have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body (Lin et al. 1999; Mascolo et al. 1987, etc.).  However, most of the anti-inflammatory activity is found in its essential oils (Chao et al. 2005; Tung et al. 2008, etc.). Other compounds of cinnamon that have been found to have anti-inflammatory activities include flavonoids such as hibifolin and quercetin among others (García-Lafuente et al. 2009, etc.).  Many of these compounds have been shown to inhibit the production of nitric oxide in the central nervous system which can purportedly prevent the development of certain neurodegenerative diseases, which are usually caused by inflammation (Hwang et al. 2009).

Cinnamon and its Antioxidant Properties

Antioxidants are considered key drivers in the existence of human beings and thus play a vital role in human lives. This is because antioxidants protect the body from oxidative stress which can lead to the development of diseases (Halliwell, 2006; 2011).

Many different extracts of cinnamon have reportedly shown antioxidant activities. A study conducted with rats showed that cinnamon bark powder produced antioxidant activities (Dhuley, 1999).  Additionally, many of the isolated flavonoids were also shown to exhibit free-radical scavenging activities as well as antioxidant properties (Okawa et al. 2001).  The extract of one particular species (C. cassia) was shown to exhibit more antioxidant activities than even tocopherol (vitamin E), which is considered a natural antioxidant (Lin et al. 2003).  Cinnamon was also shown to have greater antioxidant activities than many other dessert spices (e.g. cloves, anise, cardamom, ginger, etc.)  (Murcia et al. 2004).

What are the Side Effects of Consuming Cinnamon

Cinnamon used as a common spice or flavouring agent is reportedly considered safe by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  However, its tolerability as per specific doses is not commonly reported.  Nonetheless, excess consumption may cause allergic reactions and gastrointestinal discomfort.  However, most of these were reportedly minor (Goncalves et al. 2018).  Further, no health risks or toxic effects were reported for those who consumed up to 6g of cinnamon (German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, 2006; Ulbricht et al. 2011, etc.).

This report did not indicate which type of cinnamon or if this amount was per day.  As such, caution must be taken.  However, cinnamon consumption in amounts of 3g/day in the long term must be monitored for any possible adverse effects (German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, 2006; Ulbricht et al. 2011, etc.).

Another significant point to note is that cassia cinnamon, which is reportedly common, contains a substance known as coumarin. Coumarin may be toxic if taken in high doses (Kawatra and Rajagopalan, 2015). Also, an intake greater than 0.1 mg/kg daily can have a negative effect on blood coagulation in persons who are on warfarin.  As such, its consumption should be avoided by persons on medications or those who have a hepatic disorder (Kawatra and Rajagopalan, 2015).

Illustrative Summary

Here is an illustrative summary of the Five (5) ‘Must-Know’ Researched Health Benefits of CONSUMING CINNAMON

Illustrarive Summary - Benefits of Cinnamon - Almonds and Olivez

Let’s Sum Up!

Cinnamon is a spice that has been used for years both in foods and medicine.  This is due to its many viable compounds which have been shown to have beneficial effects on one’s health.

Some of the benefits of cinnamon include its ability to lower blood glucose levels as observed in some studies, as well as high blood pressure.  It is also reportedly beneficial for cardiovascular health as well as being anti-inflammatory and containing many antioxidant properties. A detailed post on the types of cinnamon will be explored in a subsequent post.

Now that we have discussed some of the researched health benefits of cinnamon, let me ask – Do you use cinnamon? How do you use it? Share it nuh!

Here are a few other posts you may find interesting. These posts explore blood pressure, diabetes and even nitrates among other health topics:

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