6 Incredible Health Benefits of Cinnamon for Metabolism, the Brain and More!
Who doesn’t love the smell (and the taste) of cinnamon sprinkled on a holiday treat, in a coffee or tea, or used in potpourri? But did you know that cinnamon is also a wonder when it comes to the good it can provide for the body? Here is a rundown of six of the top health benefits of cinnamon – a spice that has actually been used for thousands of years for its vast health-promoting properties.
#1 – Cinnamon Is an Antioxidant Powerhouse
Cinnamon, usually seen in sticks or powder, comes from the bark of the Cinnamomum verum or Cinnamonum zeylanicum tree. It has been used in Asia and elsewhere for thousands of years, not just as a culinary additive but also for its many healing benefits for both body and mind.
One way cinnamon is a super-healer is as an antioxidant. It contains cinnamaldehyde, one of the bioactive components of the spice. Cinnamaldehyde has free radical scavenging capabilities and can also chelate heavy metals from the body, according to a 2006 study at Lund University in Sweden .
Cinnamon may also help protect your body against cancer. A 2003 report in the journal Cancer Letters found that the antioxidant effects of cinnamaldehyde may directly inhibit tumor growth and protect DNA against mutation .
#2 – Cinnamon Can Aid in Pain Relief
Cinnamon’s pain-reducing effects have to do with the fact that it is also a powerful anti-inflammatory. Phytonutrients called flavonoids, including cinnamaldehyde, polyphenol, and many others, are what give cinnamon it’s bright color and fragrant smell.
Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants, as stated earlier, and help to lower inflammation overall.
Several studies support cinnamon’s benefits as a pain reducer, both for acute pain , such as post-surgery or in the case of menstrual cramping, and for pain that is chronic, such as arthritis.
Japanese investigators writing for Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry suggest that cinnamon can ease rheumatoid arthritis by reducing the activity of overactive cells which contribute to bone loss .
Experts agree that one of the foundational elements of all health conditions is inflammation. Keeping that in mind, it is safe to say that the positive results of cinnamon’s anti-inflammatory effects are extensive and extend far beyond pain management.
#3 – Cinnamon for People with Diabetes
One of the most amazing and surprising health benefits of cinnamon is what it can do to help metabolism. A 2009 British study found that cinnamon has antihyperglycemic properties . It is especially helpful for lowering blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity, both of which are concerns for people with diabetes. Insulin is the hormone which transports sugar to the tissues through the bloodstream and helps keeps sugar levels balanced in the blood.
A 2013 meta-analysis  of previous laboratory studies and clinical trials conducted at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California, found that “(t)he consumption of cinnamon is associated with a statistically significant decrease in levels of fasting plasma glucose, total cholesterol, LDL-C, and triglyceride levels, and an increase in HDL-C levels.”
Many experts say that cinnamon is one of the best foods for people with diabetes. One of the ways it effects metabolism is through the digestive system. It has the ability to block certain digestive enzymes in the digestive tract and the pancreas, in turn slowing sugar absorption in the bloodstream. This can be very effective for people with diabetes, especially after a high-carbohydrate meal, according to a 2011 study .
#4 – Cinnamon Can Help Fight Infections
Did you know that cinnamon is also an antifungal? A 2012 Chinese investigation  studied cinnamon essential oil’s effect on the highly opportunistic fungi Candida albicans. Cinnamon extract seemed to destroy Candida’s cells. According to the researchers, the “cells burst after treatment.”
The Chinese researchers then moved forward on a clinical trial of cinnamon oil. Sixty patients who had been diagnosed with Candida (and had already taken rounds of antibiotics to no avail) took cinnamon oil capsules along with pogostemon (patchouli) oil. After two weeks, 72% were Candida-free!
The rest of the patients saw a significant reduction in the amount of Candida in their system based on stool samples. Other studies have had the same results, including a 2018 Canadian experiment on cinnamon’s effects on Candida albicans published in the journal Fungal Biology and Biotechnology . This makes cinnamon a strong go-to possibility for anyone wanting to reduce Candida the natural way.
#5 – Cinnamon is a Great Source of Magnesium
Current U.S. government surveys show that roughly 70% of the American population are moderately magnesium deficient and 20% are severely deficient .
Magnesium deficiency can be serious since this mineral is essential for so many functions in the body. It is a cofactor for hundreds of reactions, including nervous system communication. Low levels of magnesium are also connected to higher levels of “C-Reactive Protein (CRP) .” CRP is a common marker used to assess general inflammation levels in the body, which can be an indication of more serious conditions such as cancer.
Some experts state that two teaspoons of cinnamon can provide 40% of a person’s recommended daily allowance of magnesium .
#6 – Cinnamon for Improved Brain Health
Finally, the most promising benefit of cinnamon for your health is as a brain booster. Scientists are discovering the myriad of ways in which cinnamon boosts cognition and stabilizes moods.
The first and most obvious way has to do with its antioxidant content. The flavonoids in cinnamon may be linked to defense against both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is the number one neurological condition affecting older individuals in the western world; Parkinson’s comes in second . Several studies are showing that cinnamon may be able to help. Cinnamaldehyde and other phytonutrients in cinnamon bark have demonstrated an ability to block the build-up of proteins that are connected to Alzheimer’s, according to laboratory research at the University of California, Santa Barbara .
In addition, exciting discoveries began to develop in 2014 with researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois . Lead researcher Dr. Kalipada Pahan, PhD, and his team found that when cinnamon metabolizes in the body, it turns into sodium benzoate. Sodium benzoate is a known neuroprotectant and can help improve communication mechanisms within the brain.
“Cinnamon has been used widely as a spice throughout the world for centuries,” Pahan said in a Rush University press release . “This could potentially be one of the safest approaches to halt disease progression in Parkinson’s patients.”
Give Cinnamon a Try and See for Yourself
Pahan states that the Ceylon form of cinnamon is potentially more effective for brain health, since Cassia cinnamon, which is most common in U.S. grocery stores, can contain substances that may affect the liver. The research team’s next move is to conduct clinical trials using Ceylon cinnamon extract on human Parkinson’s patients.
The bottom line is that cinnamon is more than just a tasty spice used to add flavor to your apple pie. In fact, it contains some pretty powerful substances that can benefit your health on so many levels, both body and mind.
If you are considering using larger quantities of cinnamon in capsule or essential oil form to address any health issues, be sure to work with a qualified health practitioner. And as with all foods and supplements meant to improve your health, look for the highest quality, clean-sourced products available.
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Cinnamon has been used for thousands of years for its healing benefits for both body and mind.
Several studies support cinnamon’s benefits as a pain reducer, for both acute and chronic pain.
One of the most amazing and surprising health benefits of cinnamon is what it can do to help metabolism.
Cinnamon can help fight infections.
Cinnamon is a great source of magnesium.
Cinnamon even has benefits for brain health. The flavonoids in cinnamon may be linked to defense against both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.