Cinnamon is much more than a flavorful and fragrant spice. Our ancestors have been using it as a remedy for ailments for a long time. One of its most notable uses, however, is its ability to manage the ever-prevalent disorder, diabetes.1
Cinnamon & Diabetes
The hormone ‘insulin’ plays a big role when it comes to managing our blood sugar. Here’s how: Our cells need to take sugar from our bloodstream, to use them as energy. To help them do this, our pancreas secretes insulin, which allows the cells to receive the sugar. When blood sugar is high, more insulin is produced, which makes cells less sensitive to the insulin. That’s called ‘insulin resistance’ and the condition is known as type II diabetes (diabetes mellitus). Patients usually manage type II diabetes with oral medication, to decrease the cells’ insulin resistance.2
Over time, cells become insensitive to insulin, which makes them stop receiving sugar
With no known cure, a person needs a proper diet and exercise plan to control diabetes.
Cinnamon helps in the management of diabetes by:1, 3
(1) Decreasing insulin resistance –
It decreases insulin resistance in cells (by making them produce the proteins that are sensitive to insulin).
(2) Mimicking insulin –
Some components of cinnamon are believed to act like insulin in the body. This characteristic of cinnamon has been shown to increase the cells’ sugar uptake, and lower blood sugar.4
The fact that compounds in cinnamon can mimic insulin means that this spice can affect our body in even more ways:
Cinnamon and Brain Function
- Like the rest of the body, the brain needs energy as well. Insulin resistance leads to memory impairment, which can be rescued by cinnamon.5
- Insulin resistance also plays a role in the changes that occur in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease,5 such that the term “type 3 diabetes” has been used to describe Alzeimer’s disease.6
Cinnamon and the Heart
Cinnamon lowers “bad cholesterol” (LDL) in the blood, which has been linked to heart diseases.1, 7
It lowers blood pressure by making the cells found within the walls of blood vessels relax, instead of contracting. It was also recently found to obstruct these cells from multiplying, thereby preventing blockages in blood vessels (a condition known as atherosclerosis).8
Cinnamon and the Body
- It is a mild antioxidant and inhibits inflammation making it beneficial for managing everything from simple skin problems to serious joint pain.3
- A few studies demonstrate that it can kill cancer cells and stop the spread of cancer. However, more detailed studies need to be carried out.1
- A component of cinnamon (cinnamaldehyde) is responsible for its anti-microbial activity. It acts against “bad” bacteria and fungi and also fights bad breath!3
What’s the best way to consume cinnamon?
Cinnamon can be consumed in several ways, while adding a nice flavour to food:
- Mix it into your garam masala
- Eat it with yogurt
- Put it in your milk
- Make a Te De Canela, a tasty traditional Mexican drink
- Put it in your lemonade
- Sprinkle it on your breakfast cereal
- Have it with honey
1. Kawatra P & Rajagopalan R. Pharmacognosy Research 2015, 7(Suppl 1): S1-S6.
2. Barnett T & Kumar S. Obesity and Diabetes. Wiley: Oxford, UK, 2009.
3. Rao PV & Gan SH. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM 2014, 2014: 642942.
4. Howard ME & White ND. ?American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine 2013, 7(1): 23-26.
5. Anderson RA, et al. PLoS One 2013, 8(12): e83243.
6. de la Monte SM & Wands JR. J Diabetes Sci Technol 2008, 2(6): 1101-1113.
7. Javed I, et al. Pak J Pharm Sci 2012, 25(1): 141-147.
8. Kwon H, et al. Am J Chin Med 2015, 43(4): 621-636.