Cinnamon, from the bark of the cinnamon tree, has long been used as both a spice and a traditional medicine. As a supplement, you'll find it in capsules, teas, and extracts. So far, doctors don't recommend it for any health issues. Although research suggests interesting possibilities, there's more work to be done.
Several studies of adults and animals with diabetes have found that cinnamon can help lower blood sugar, though others haven't shown similar results. Scientists still don't know how cinnamon may work. It's also unclear how much you would take and how long the results might last.
An essential oil in cinnamon called cinnamaldehyde can target your fat cells and make them burn more energy, according to a lab study. This is exciting news for anyone trying to lose weight, but the research is still in the early stages. We have a long way to go.
Search the internet for "cinnamon face mask" and you'll find plenty of DIY recipes that claim the'll fight pimples and redness. There's very little to back this up -- just one small study that found Ceylon cinnamon, specifically, can fight the types of bacteria known to cause acne. Another small lab study suggests that cinnamon can boost collagen production, which might help your skin look younger.
In studies using animals or cells grown in labs, cinnamon has shown promise for its ability to slow cancer growth and even kill tumor cells. We need well-run studies of humans to know what role, if any, cinnamon could play in curing or preventing cancer.
Several studies suggest that eating cinnamon every day for 3 months can bring your systolic blood pressure (the top number) down by as much as 5 points. Larger studies are needed to check things like does it really work, how much to eat to get the best results, and how long the effect lasts. And since these were people who had prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, we don't know if cinnamon has the same effect when you don't have blood sugar issues.
In a lab setting, cinnamon stopped the buildup of a brain protein that's a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. In another study, rats who had cinnamon did better in a water maze designed to test their memory. Of course, we need to see if these findings carry over when tested on humans.
It turns out that cinnamon was a top inflammation-fighter in a recent laboratory study that looked at 115 foods. Since inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis become more common as you age, more research could support using cinnamon as a natural remedy for older adults to help with these types of conditions.
When 60 adults in a small study ate about 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon every day for 40 days, their LDL ("bad") cholesterol went down. Other research has found that similar amounts of cinnamon, eaten daily for up to 18 weeks, can lower LDL and total cholesterol while raising HDL ("good") cholesterol. But it's too early to recommend cinnamon as a treatment for high cholesterol.
Cinnamon can fight many types of bacteria that make people sick, including salmonella, E. coli, and staph. Perhaps it could be used as a natural preservative in foods and cosmetics.
It seems cinnamon has the power to destroy the fungus Candida albicans, which causes most vaginal yeast infections. At least, it works in the lab. It's not clear how -- or even if you could -- use cinnamon to fight off or treat a yeast infection.
While taking a dose of 1.5 grams (about 1/2 teaspoon) of cinnamon each day for 6 months, women with polycystic ovary syndrome in one small but well-designed study had more regular periods. Their insulin resistance and androgen levels didn't change, though.
IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Cinnamon."
- Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine: "Cinnamon extract lowers glucose, insulin and cholesterol in people with elevated serum glucose."
- Nutrition Journal: "The glycaemic outcomes of Cinnamon, a review of the experimental evidence and clinical trials."
- Journal of Medicinal Food: "Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis."
- Annals of Family Medicine: "Cinnamon Use in Type 2 Diabetes: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis."
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: "Cassia Cinnamon."
- Metabolism: "Cinnamaldehyde induces fat cell-autonomous thermogenesis and metabolic reprogramming."
- Ancient Science of Life: "The In vitro anti-acne activity of two unani drugs."
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: "Cinnamon extract promotes type I collagen biosynthesis via activation of IGF-I signaling in human dermal fibroblasts."
- Carcinogenesis: "Novel angiogenesis inhibitory activity in cinnamon extract blocks VEGFR2 kinase and downstream signaling."
- Biochemical Pharmacology: "Antitumor effect of the cinnamaldehyde derivative CB403 through the arrest of cell cycle progression in the G2/M phase."
- International Journal of Applied Science and Engineering: "Cytotoxic Effect of trans-Cinnamaldehyde from Cinnamomum osmophloeum Leaves on Human Cancer Cell Lines."
- Nutrition: "Effect of short-term administration of cinnamon on blood pressure in patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes."
- Journal of Alzheimer's Disease: "Cinnamon extract inhibits tau aggregation associated with Alzheimer's disease in vitro."
- National Institute on Aging: "What Happens to the Brain in Alzheimer's Disease?"
- Nutritional Neuroscience: "Effect of Cinnamomum zeylanicum extract on scopolamine-induced cognitive impairment and oxidative stress in rats."
- European Journal of Nutrition: "Determination of anti-inflammatory activities of standardised preparations of plant- and mushroom-based foods."
- Frontiers in Immunology: "Age and Age-Related Diseases: Role of Inflammation Triggers and Cytokines."
- Food & Function: "Anti-inflammatory activity of cinnamon (C. zeylanicum and C. cassia) extracts - identification of E-cinnamaldehyde and o-methoxy cinnamaldehyde as the most potent bioactive compounds."
- Diabetes Care: "Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes."
- Nutrients: "Antibacterial Effects of Cinnamon: From Farm to Food, Cosmetic and Pharmaceutical Industries."
- Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine: "Mechanisms, clinically curative effects, and antifungal activities of cinnamon oil and pogostemon oil complex against three species of Candida."
- Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research: "Antifungal Activity of Cinnamon Oil and Olive Oil against Candida Spp. Isolated from Blood Stream Infections."
- Mayo Clinic: "Yeast infection (vaginal)."
- American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: "Preliminary evidence that cinnamon improves menstrual cyclicity in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial."