Most people consider cinnamon to be only a good spice used worldwide, but actually, there are biologically active substances contained in this plant which make it a powerful remedy for various medical conditions. The substances claimed for most of cinnamon’s health benefits include cinnamaldehyde and trans-cinnamaldehyde. It also contains catechins, procyanidins, and other substances with antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and other effects. Here is the description of some of these effects produced by cinnamon constituents.
Antioxidant Effects of Cinnamon
Oxidation of organic compounds and creation of harmful free radicals in the body is unavoidable. Free radicals destroy cell membranes, enzymes, and diminish normal cellular functions. However, there are antioxidants in our body which protect us against these effects. Cinnamon also contains substances which potentiate these antioxidative mechanisms and prevent free radicals to produce damage to our organs. Although aging is a result of many factors, oxidative stress is certainly one of them, so cinnamon can be considered as an anti-aging factor too.
Anti-inflammatory Effect of Cinnamon
During inflammation of any kind, inflammatory mediators are created and released into the bloodstream. Concentration of these mediators in blood and tissues lets us know the severity of inflammation. Scientists have found that cinnamon decreased levels of many inflammatory mediators, so they concluded that cinnamon has a strong anti-inflammatory activity, especially in patients with autoimmune diseases.
Cinnamon and Diabetes
One of the constituents of cinnamon has been found to have insulin-like effects. This means that people with low insulin levels could benefit from taking cinnamon. Furthermore, as diabetes is often caused by destruction of pancreatic β-cells (the cells which produce insulin), antioxidative effects of cinnamon can contribute to slowing-down the destruction process and prolonging the viability and functionality of these important cells.
Cinnamon and Other Disorders
Scientists are getting more and more amazed with health-related beneficial effects of cinnamon. They have found substances in cinnamon that may be used in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders. These substances mainly protect neurons from oxidative stress. Latest studies have also identified anti-cancer activity, especially for colon cancer. Antimicrobial activity and balancing of cholesterol levels by using cinnamon are still under investigation.
To summarize, cinnamon is a powerful health booster with no side effects, and in addition to that, a delicious spice too. Further research will reveal all the potential uses of this magnificent plant.
Rao, P. V., & Gan, S. H. (2014). Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2014, 642942. http://doi.org/10.1155/2014/642942
Kumar, S., Vasudeva, N., & Sharma, S. (2012). GC-MS analysis and screening of antidiabetic, antioxidant and hypolipidemic potential of Cinnamomum tamala oil in streptozotocin induced diabetes mellitus in rats. Cardiovascular Diabetology, 11, 95. http://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2840-11-95
Ranasinghe, P., Pigera, S., Premakumara, G. S., Galappaththy, P., Constantine, G. R., & Katulanda, P. (2013). Medicinal properties of “true” cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): a systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 13, 275. http://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-13-275
Kawatra, P., & Rajagopalan, R. (2015). Cinnamon: Mystic powers of a minute ingredient. Pharmacognosy Research, 7(Suppl 1), S1–S6. http://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8490.157990