A wide variety of spices have been in use since ancient times in Indian cuisines. Their benefits weren’t widely known till recent times when the uses were scientifically researched upon & studied for treating several diseases.
Cinnamon stick is one such versatile spice which has a plethora of health benefits and has been used in flavoring various dishes ranging from main course rice dishes to desserts.
Cinnamon has got a strong & burning taste, and is obtained from the inner bark of trees belonging to the species of genus Cinnamomum. The cut barks are dried, which then curl up to form tube-like shapes, which are then sold as a whole in the market.
The compound cinnamaldehyde, found in cinnamon oils & extracts, is mainly responsible for the wide variety of health benefits which it imparts.
Cinnamon extracts have been prescribed by medical experts for treating or preventing the progression of various chronic diseases as follows :
An effective Insulin Sensitizer
Cinnamon is a rich source of chromium, an essential mineral which makes body cells more receptive to insulin by sensitizing the insulin receptors on them. This goes a long way in treating insulin resistance, which is considered one of the hallmarks of type-2 diabetes.
Treating Neurodegenerative Diseases
Neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheiemer’s or Parkinsons’ show accumulation of protein buildup called ‘tau’. Cinnamon helps in minimizing the symptoms of these diseases such as improving motor function, conduction of neurotransmission signals across neurons & protecting neurons from destruction.
An Anti-Inflammatory Agent
Cinnamon contain several polyphenolic compounds which act as effective antioxidants & protect against systemic inflammation, which is a characteristic of almost all chronic diseases.
It also helps in improving specific inflammation such as joint arthritis, headaches which is corrected by improving blood circulation in the affected areas.
Excellent Anti-Carcinogenic Agent
Animal studies have established that cinnamon extracts are effective in causing cancerous cell death or apoptosis, by reducing the number of blood vessels in the tumor cell providing nutrition, and retarding their growth.
However, large scale human trials to study this effect of cinnamon in humans yet needs to be carried out.
Cinnamon has been shown to correct abnormal lipid levels by reducing LDL cholesterol (‘bad cholesterol’), serum triglycerides & total cholesterol, and at the same time, keeping the HDL cholesterol (‘goodcholesterol’) stable. In specific dose of upto 120 mgs / day, it was also found to increase the HDL cholesterol. Along with the lipid lowering action of cinnamon, it also reduced blood pressure.
Most of these actions have a crucial role in preventing chronic heart diseases.
Since PCOS is mainly characterized by insulin resistance in its pathogenesis, cinnamon plays a useful role in reversing the symptoms of PCOS such as heavy menstrual bleeding or amenorrhea, weight gain, bloating due to its insulin sensitizing action.
Cinnamon extracts are now available in the form of ground powder, whole barks, oils, capsules and can be supplemented in daily regime.
On a daily basis, ¼ – ½ tsp / day of cinnamon powder is safe for consumption to begin with, then it can be increased gradually to 1-2 tsp / day based on tolerance.