Hey all! Recently I became a Certified Mental Health Integrative Medicine Provider. Wahoo! During my training and coursework for this, we reviewed a lot of different ways to approach mental health, and well, health in general, from a holistic perspective. Long story short, one of the many things it inspired me to do was to incorporate Cinnamon into my diet a little more.
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Honestly, to me, cinnamon has always been one of my favorite herbs. It’s got this soft, spicy warmth to it that provides a multi-sensory experience that I can’t get enough of. As I write this, I’m secretly (okay, not secretly but whatever) taking breaks to sniff my cinnamon infused morning coffee. MMMMMMMmmmmmm. Can you smell it?
Alright, alright, I’ll stop weirding you all out now and get to the real nitty gritty stuff. The “why” cinnamon is great:
Cinnamon as an anti-inflammatory
Cinnamon has been used for centuries in traditional medicines as a natural anti-inflammatory. Now that modern medicine is starting to keep up with what traditional medicines have known for eons, we are finding that Cinnamon contains several flavanoids which may be responsible for this mechanism. For this reason, it’s been used traditionally to help treat colds, infections, toothaches, and other inflammatory diseases.
Cinnamon for diabetes
Cinnamon also has properties which help lower blood glucose levels and help to overall control the body’s production of insulin. This helps those who are diabetic, or pre-diabetic, help to control their diabetes naturally. Of course this is not a substitute for medications prescribed by your doctor to control your diabetes, however it may be a tasty way to compliment your prescribed diabetes treatment.
Cinnamon to for heart health
In addition to helping control your blood glucose levels, cinnamon can also help lower your lipid levels (cholesterol). Studies have shown cinnamon to potentially increase validations which in turn helps assist your cardiovascular system to lower not only your cholesterol but also your blood pressure.
Cinnamon as an antimicrobial
Cinnamon has been shown in several studies to decrease bad bacteria, fungi, and yeast. This suggests that Cinnamon is an effective antimicrobial agent and could be used as a natural sort of “disinfectant”. Natural toothpastes like “My Magic Mud” use cinnamon as an ingredient for this reason. We’ve been using this toothpaste for the past few months in my household and really like it- the clove helps soothe any toothaches, the cinnamon and coconut oil help fight bacteria, and the activated charcoal helps to whiten teeth. You can buy it here using the link below or above, or it can be found at many local food cooperatives.
Knowing all these benefits of Cinnamon, how do you incorporate it into your everyday life?
Because of it’s many benefits, I have been trying to find ways to incorporate it into my life this winter to help ward of infections and bugs that creep and crawl their way into my life! One of the easiest and tastiest ways I’ve found (and hence my title) has been adding it to my coffee. You can do this a handful of different ways”
- First, you could just sprinkle a little ground cinnamon powder into your coffee. Because Cinnamon is actually the bark of a tree, you need to be aware that cinnamon powder is not going to dissolve in a liquid the way other powders will. This means in order to keep it distributed in your drink, you will need to occasionally stir it. Not a big deal, but just something to consider.
- Because the thought of stirring my coffee just seems like a lot of work to me (lazy much? I know!) I like to just make my coffee with cinnamon already in it. I have a traditional coffee maker (nothing fancy, just a good ole Mr. Coffee), so it’s pretty easy to just put in my ground coffee into the filter and then add a teaspoon of cinnamon.
- Buy cinnamon sticks and just add one to your morning cup of joe. Just throw it in the cup, let it steep a few minutes and then start sipping. And that’s it. Personally, I don’t do this because for one, I don’t always have cinnamon sticks on hand, and for two, I feel like this may be a little more wasteful then the other two methods. Albeit, that’s just my own thoughts…it probably isn’t actually more wasteful the the other two methods, but somewhere in my mind I told myself it was and so I get a little stuck with that.
Not a coffee drinker? No problem! You can still reap the benefits of drinking cinnamon by making yourself a cinnamon tea. I actually learned this one from my dad a few years ago. Steep a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon in hot water along with a teaspoon of raw local honey for about two minutes and then sip it down. Of course, like I do with coffee, you could add it to your favorite tea and see how it tastes.
Are there any risks to consuming cinnamon?
Of course you should always, always, ALWAYS consult with your doctor before adding any supplements or herbs to your diet….this is especially true if you have an ongoing medical condition. We are all different and have different bodies…what works for some or even many may not work for you individually. Know yourself, know your health, and communicate with your doctor.
With that said, the simple answer is yes, there are some health risks indicated with over-consumption of cinnamon. It is first good to know what kind of cinnamon you are consuming. And yes, there is more then one kind!
- Typically, if you are grabbing your ground cinnamon from the grocery store, you are most likely grabbing a strain called Cassia. This is the most commonly sold form of cinnamon and is what most grocery stores carry. You can check this by reading the label on your cinnamon. It will likely say something like “Cinnamomum Cassia” or “Cinnamomum Aromaticum”. If your cinnamon says either of those things on the label, you have yourself cassia cinnamon. Cassia is typically grown in South Asia.
- Then there is Ceylon cinnamon. This is not as easy to come by as cassia and is usually more expensive. It is known as “true cinnamon”. If your label says something like “Cinnamomun Verum”, you have yourself ceylon cinnamon. This form of cinnamon is grown in India.
So why does it matter if it’s ceylon or cassia? It matters because they contain different amounts of coumarin, which in excess is what is responsible for the health risks associated with over-consumption of cinnamon.
Cassia cinnamon contains a larger amount of coumarin. Now, coumarin itself isn’t a bad thing…but in too large of doses it can create issues with your liver, your blood sugar, and may interact with certain medications (mainly by increasing their effects). One teaspoon (less if you are a child) of Cassia cinnamon contains the recommended daily intake of coumarin and is all that is needed to reap the benefits of cinnamon. Consuming more than this is putting yourself at risk for more health issues. Remember too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!!!!
So that’s it. That’s all I’ve got for today. How do you consume cinnamon? Any favorite recipes that use cinnamon that you love? Comment below!
Until next time,
Rao, P. V., & Gan, S. H. (2014). Cinnamon: A Multi-faceted Medicinal Plant. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi:10.1155/2014/642942
Raman, R., RD. (2017, November 18). 6 Side Effects of Too Much Cinnamon. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/side-effects-of-cinnamon#section6