Cinnamon is one of the oldest known spices. It comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree, and is grown in many tropical areas, including Java, Burma, China, Southern Asia and throughout South America.
There are two main types of cinnamon:
- Ceylon (Sri Lanka) known as “true” cinnamon, from Sri Lanka
- Cassia (Chinese), from southern China
There are subtle differences between the two. Ceylon is low in Coumarin, a natural blood thinner found in cinnamon. It is sweeter, harder to find and more expensive. Cassia has a high Coumarin content, is more pungent, less expensive, and easier found in grocery stores.
You can buy cinnamon as ground, as sticks, oil, or capsules for use as a supplement. When you buy the ground, always check the ingredients, and buying organic is the best. As with other spices, freshness lasts for six months in a tightly closed container and sticks can last for a year.
So which is better? Some say the Ceylon, but both have surprising health benefits. Here are just some of the things I found:
Alzheimer’s Disease – a study from Israel says cinnamon delays the effects of a gene that causes the disease; it also boosts memory and cognitive functions
Diabetes – it’s not a medication for Diabetes but is excellent for diabetics because it lowers blood sugar and stimulates more insulin production
Cardiac Disease – cinnamon lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, reducing the risk factors for heart disease and stroke
Leukemia and Lymphoma – it is said to have properties that slow down the spread and growth of cancer cells
Osteoarthritis Arthritis – cinnamon has the compound cinnamomum, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties helping the easing of arthritic pain
Weight Loss – helps with weight loss because of its good digestive properties and helping with the breakdown of carbohydrates
Blood Thinner – Cassia cinnamon contains a major blood thinner, coumarin, which can help prevent clots
Tooth Decay and Gingivitis – cinnamon oil is an antibacterial and is found in some chewing gums, mouthwash and toothpaste so it plays a role in preventing mouth problems
Room Deodorizer – besides smelling good, cinnamon oil can kill odor causing bacteria
Yeast Infections – cinnamon has anti-fungal properties which help combat the effects of a yeast infection
You can add cinnamon on or in toast, cereal, lattes, coffee, tea, fruit and with baking.
How much cinnamon should you take? It’s generally recommended to take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon every day (about 2-4 grams). Some studies show it’s beneficial to take up to 6 grams.
Some side effects are possible for some people. Cinnamon oil can cause a burning sensation when it’s applied directly to skin. Candy and gum that contain a lot of cinnamon can irritate tissues inside your mouth. If you’re sensitive to coumarin or already on blood thinners and consume too much cassia cinnamon, it can cause liver disease or make you more susceptible to bleeding.
Cinnamon is not approved by the FDA to cure any medical condition and you should consult your physician before using it to treat any medical issues you may be experiencing.