Unlock the Health Benefits of Ceylon Cinnamon

by | Jan 15, 2024

Cinnamon in bowl with cinnamon sticks and star anise on a dark tray, surrounded by white flowers

From regulating blood sugar to boosting heart health, learn how Ceylon cinnamon can enhance your wellbeing, backed by scientific research.

Ceylon cinnamon, known scientifically as Cinnamomum zeylanicum, transcends beyond its role as a culinary spice, emerging as a subject of interest in the health and wellness community. Here we’ll review some recent findings that underscore this ancient spice’s potential health benefits, guided by numerous scientific studies.

Nutritional Profile of Ceylon Cinnamon

Ceylon cinnamon, often referred to as “true cinnamon” is celebrated for its rich content of essential oils, particularly cinnamaldehyde and eugenol. The health benefits of Ceylon cinnamon are primarily attributed to these compounds which are pivotal in delivering the spice’s medicinal properties.

In 2010, a study published by the Journal of Natural Science Foundation noted that Ceylon cinnamon’s various parts – bark, leaf, root, and fruit – each contribute uniquely to its overall health benefits, showcasing its diverse therapeutic potential.

Essential Oils

The essential oils found in Ceylon cinnamon are responsible for its distinct aroma and flavor. These oils are rich in various compounds, each contributing to the spice’s health benefits.

  • Cinnamaldehyde is the most active component of Ceylon cinnamon’s essential oils. Cinnamaldehyde is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce blood sugar levels. It also possesses antimicrobial properties, making it effective against certain bacteria and fungi.
  • Eugenol: Another significant compound, eugenol, has been noted for its analgesic and antiseptic properties. It’s also a natural anesthetic, which is why it’s often found in dental products.
  • Linalool: This component gives Ceylon cinnamon its floral notes. Linalool has been studied for its stress-reducing, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety effects.

Other Beneficial Compounds

In addition to its essential oils, Ceylon cinnamon contains several other beneficial compounds:

  • Polyphenolic Polymers: These compounds have been found to positively affect blood sugar control, making Ceylon cinnamon a popular supplement among people with diabetes.
  • Fiber and Manganese: Ceylon cinnamon is a good source of dietary fiber and manganese. Fiber aids digestion and promotes gut health, while manganese is essential for bone formation and nutrient absorption.
  • Calcium and Iron: It also contains trace amounts of calcium and iron, which are vital for bone health and blood formation.
  • Antioxidants: Ceylon cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants, such as flavonoids, which fight oxidative stress and may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Ceylon Cinnamon Health Benefits: Insights from Research

While its use in traditional medicine has long been recognized, contemporary scientific research continues to uncover its multifaceted health potential.

Here’s a rundown of several key health aspects where Ceylon cinnamon has shown significant promise:

Blood Glucose Regulation

Ceylon cinnamon has garnered attention for its potential to manage blood glucose levels, a vital aspect for individuals with type 2 diabetes.

A recent 2020 study found that extract of bark of Cinnamomum zeylanicum shows antioxidant and antidiabetic activities, with potential therapeutic applications in diabetes management. These compounds exhibit activity akin to insulin, potentially aiding in blood glucose regulation and making it a beneficial addition for those managing diabetes and related metabolic disorders.

Additionally, a 2022 Journal of Future Foods article highlighted the spice’s capability to regulate blood sugar, thanks to its active compounds like cinnamaldehyde and eugenol, and emphasized its superiority over other cinnamon types in managing diabetes.

Cardiovascular Health

Ceylon cinnamon’s impact extends to cardiovascular health, with studies indicating its role in lipid profile improvement. Research from the Ceylon Medical Journal found that Ceylon cinnamon could help reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol, thereby contributing to better heart health. Animal models also demonstrated the potential for blood pressure reduction, a significant factor in managing and preventing hypertension and related cardiovascular diseases.

Specifically, Ranasinghe et al.’s 2017 study, a phase I clinical trial published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, evaluated the effects of Ceylon cinnamon on 30 healthy adults. Over three months, participants exhibited reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and decreases in total and LDL cholesterol levels, suggesting Ceylon cinnamon’s potential in cardiovascular health enhancement.

Anti-inflammatory and Antimicrobial Properties

One of Ceylon cinnamon’s most notable properties is its essential oils’ anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial capabilities, particularly cinnamaldehyde.

A review of various studies in 2013, as published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, reported on Ceylon cinnamon’s effectiveness against a range of microbial and parasitic infections. In 2020, A comprehensive review of the properties of Ceylon cinnamon further confirmed that cinnamon bark and leaf oils exhibited bactericidal and fungicidal activities.

This is a potent natural remedy against various microbial infections. These properties are particularly important in the context of increasing resistance to conventional antibiotics, positioning Ceylon cinnamon as a valuable complementary therapy.

Cognitive Function and Neurological Health

Emerging evidence suggests that Ceylon cinnamon may have a protective role against neurological disorders. Ranasinghe, et al.’s 2016 article in the Ceylon Medical Journal revealed Ceylon cinnamon’s potential in boosting cognitive function and reducing risk of colonic cancer.

Further studies of Ceylon cinnamon have indicated that it contains compounds that inhibit tau aggregation, a process linked to Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting that regular consumption of Ceylon cinnamon could contribute to improved cognitive functions and offer a degree of protection against certain neurodegenerative diseases. This revelation is a significant stride in understanding the neuroprotective capabilities of the spice.

The Importance of Moderation

Adverse side effects are rare when enjoyed as a spice, but while Ceylon cinnamon offers many health benefits, excessive consumption of very large amounts of Ceylon, as with over-the-counter products marketed as health supplements, can lead to unintended consequences, particularly for individuals with specific health conditions or those taking certain medications. Here’s why:

  • Coumarin Content: Ceylon cinnamon contains very low levels of coumarin, a natural compound found in some plants. A 2021 analysis published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis established the superiority of Ceylon cinnamon due to its ultra-low coumarin level. High coumarin intake, as found in Cassia cinnamon, can be harmful to the liver and may lead to health issues. Ceylon cinnamon’s lower coumarin content makes it a safer choice for regular consumption.
  • Blood Sugar Regulation: Ceylon cinnamon has been studied for its potential to help regulate blood sugar levels. While promising, it’s not a substitute for medication or a remedy for diabetes. If you have diabetes or are on medication, consult your healthcare provider before significantly increasing your cinnamon intake.
  • Potential Allergies: Some individuals may be allergic to cinnamon. If you experience symptoms like skin irritation, swelling, or difficulty breathing after consuming cinnamon, seek medical attention.
  • Digestive Sensitivity: Cinnamon can sometimes cause digestive discomfort in sensitive individuals. Start with small amounts and monitor your body’s response.

Potential Side Effects

A 2017 phase I clinical trial confirms Ceylon cinnamon is generally safe for consumption, finding no serious adverse effects, making it a relatively safe addition to most diets. However, in high doses or as a supplement, it can lead to side effects such as:

  • Mouth Irritation: Cinnamon’s natural compounds may cause mild mouth irritation if consumed in excessive quantities.
  • Skin Sensitivity: Direct contact with cinnamon oil or high concentrations may irritate the skin.
  • Digestive Issues: Large amounts of cinnamon can cause digestive discomfort, including nausea and diarrhea.

To avoid these potential side effects, stick to moderate and culinary use of Ceylon cinnamon.

Buying High-Quality, Real Ceylon Cinnamon

To enjoy the benefits of Ceylon cinnamon and ensure your safety, use these tips to ensure that you are choosing high-quality sources:

  • Read Labels: When buying ground cinnamon, check the label for “Ceylon cinnamon” or “Cinnamomum verum” to ensure you’re getting the right type.
  • Buy Whole Sticks: Whole Ceylon cinnamon sticks, especially Certified Organic Alba-Grade Ceylon Sticks, are less likely to be adulterated than ground cinnamon. Grind them as needed for freshness.
  • Notice Bark Quality: True Ceylon cinnamon has a characteristic thin, multi-layered bark.
  • Examine Your Sensory Experience: Genuine Ceylon cinnamon is distinguished by its delicate, sweet flavor and distinct aroma.
  • Check for Authenticity: Ceylon cinnamon is more expensive than Cassia cinnamon. If the price seems too good to be true, it might not be genuine Ceylon cinnamon.
  • Its Origin Matters: Authentic Ceylon cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka; verify its source for genuine quality.
  • Consider Organic: Organic Ceylon cinnamon is free from synthetic pesticides and chemicals.
  • Seek Reputable Brands: Purchase from reputable spice brands or specialty stores known for their quality.

And if you’re looking for recipe ideas, here is a resource for how to use it and incorporate Ceylon cinnamon into your diet.

Ceylon cinnamon is not just a spice for your kitchen; it’s a health-enhancing gem. With its potential to improve blood sugar regulation, heart health, and more, it’s a spice worth incorporating into your diet. Remember, moderation is key, and if you have health concerns, always seek professional advice. Happy experimenting with this wonderful spice!

References:
Bhashika Sithijanee Senevirathne, Madhura Arunoda Jayasinghe, Dayani Pavalakumar, Chamath Gayan Siriwardhana, Ceylon cinnamon: a versatile ingredient for futuristic diabetes management, Journal of Future Foods, Volume 2, Issue 2,2022,Pages 125-142,ISSN 2772-5669, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfutfo.2022.03.010
Silva, D., Jeewanthi, R., Rajapaksha, R., Weddagala, W., Hirotsu, N., Shimizu, B., & Munasinghe, M. (2021). Clean vs dirty labels: Transparency and authenticity of the labels of Ceylon cinnamon. PLoS ONE, 16. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0260474.
Liyanage, N. M. N., Bandusekara, B. S., Kanchanamala, R. W. M. K., Hathurusinghe, H. A. B. M., Rathnayaka, A. M. R. W. S. D., Pushpakumara, D. G., Samita, S., Wijesinghe, K. G. G., Jayasinghe, G. G., Liyanage, W. K., & Bandaranayake, P. C. G. (2021). Identification of superior Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blume germplasm for future true cinnamon breeding in the world. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 96, 103747. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfca.2020.103747
Pandey, D., Chaudhary, R., Dey, A., Nandy, S., Banik, R., Malik, T., & Dwivedi, P. (2020). Current Knowledge of Cinnamomum Species: A Review on the Bioactive Components, Pharmacological Properties, Analytical and Biotechnological Studies. , 127-164. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-1394-7_3.
Paranagama, P. A., Wimalasena, S., Jayatilake, G. S., et al. (2010). A comparison of essential oil constituents of bark, leaf, root, and fruit of cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blum) grown in Sri Lanka. Journal of Natural Science Foundation, 29, 147-53.
Ranasinghe, P., & Galappaththy, P. (2016). Health benefits of Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): A summary of the current evidence. THE CEYLON MEDICAL JOURNAL, 61(1). https://doi.org/http://doi.org/10.4038/cmj.v61i1.8251
Ranasinghe P, Jayawardena R, Pigera S, Wathurapatha WS, Weeratunga HD, Premakumara GAS, Katulanda P, Constantine GR, Galappaththy P. Evaluation of pharmacodynamic properties and safety of Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) in healthy adults: a phase I clinical trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Dec 28;17(1):550. doi: 10.1186/s12906-017-2067-7. PMID: 29282046; PMCID: PMC5745724.
Ranasinghe P, Pigera S, Premakumara GA, Galappaththy P, Constantine GR, Katulanda P. Medicinal properties of ‘true’ cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 Oct 22;13:275. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-13-275. PMID: 24148965; PMCID: PMC3854496.
Rao PV, Gan SH. Cinnamon: a multifaceted medicinal plant. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:642942. doi: 10.1155/2014/642942. Epub 2014 Apr 10. PMID: 24817901; PMCID: PMC4003790.
Singh, R., Parasuraman, S., & Kathiresan, S. (2020). Antioxidant and Antidiabetic Activities of Methanolic extract of Bark of Cinnamomum zeylanicum in Diabetic Rats. Free Radicals and Antioxidants, 10, 16-23. https://doi.org/10.5530/fra.2020.1.4.

 

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