The Health Benefits of Cinnamon

MF-cinnamonAdding cinnamon to your mulled wine this winter could help teat or prevent type II diabetes according to research in the US. Studies suggest eating cinnamon improves blood glucose levels and blood fats.

The USDA tested 49 different herbs, spices and medicinal plants for their effects on glucose metabolism. The results were published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. The study showed that the active ingredient in cinnamon, methylhydroxychalcone polymer, or MHCP, mimics insulin functions, increases cell’s glucose uptake and signals certain cells to turn glucose into glycogen.

Cinnamon may also lower blood pressure. Other studies published in Diabetic Care show cinnamon not only reduced blood sugar levels but also blood pressure, triglycerides, total cholesterol and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in those with type II diabetes.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) identified phytochemicals in cinnamon, called chalcone polymers, which increase glucose metabolism in the cells by 20 times or more and are powerful antioxidants. Cinnamon also contains anthocyanins that improve capillary function. Classed as a flavonoid, anthocyanins are also powerful antioxidants.

From aching muscles to digestive disorders and better eyesight

According to other research at Wheeling Jesuit University in the US, volunteers had a better memory and quicker visual-motor response speed after taking cinnamon. Cinnamon also contains anti-inflammatory properties that may be helpful for pain and stiffness in muscles, joints and for menstrual problems. In Oriental medicine it is used as a digestive tonic and helps soothe the abdominal region, relieving gas, nausea and diarrhea. Animal studies have shown it is a carminative, or gas reliever. Also, catechins, compounds found in cinnamon, help relieve nausea.

Cinnamon is also regarded as an aphrodisiac and anti-fungal agent and calms the nerves. Taken as a tea, it can help people suffering from rheumatism linked to exposure to cold weather.

A word of caution

Cinnamon does have an anti-blood-clotting effect, so do speak to your doctor or a qualified healthcare professional if you are taking prescription blood-thinning medication. Large quantities should also be avoided during pregnancy as it may have adverse effects on the uterus.