Christmas, it is that special time we all look forward to. A time for giving, a time for planning that special get together, and a time for fabulous Christmas scents that permeate all areas of our homes.
The ever so wonderful smells of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, peppermint and more are great when we are baking our special treats, but they also have health benefits.
Let’s first look at Cinnamon
Cinnamon is the inner bark of the cinnamon tree.
An evergreen shrub/ tree that has many species. It is native to southern India and Sri Lanka but was also grown in China, thousands of years ago.
Cinnamon was used in Egypt for embalming.
Cassia (type of cinnamon) is mentioned in the Holy Bible,
I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cassia." (Proverbs 7:17 KJV)
The Lord instructed Moses to use cinnamon as one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil. (Exodus 30:22-28 KJV
Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices" (Song of Solomon 4:13-14 KJV)
All thy garments [smell] of myrrh, and aloes, [and] cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. (Psalm 45:8)
Since there are many kinds of cinnamon, it is most important to know the types that have studies linked to them.
The most common type of cinnamon is cinnamon zeylanicum, often referred to as "true" cinnamon.
Another species is cinnamon aromaticum, referred to as cassia, and is often sold as cinnamon. Same species different plant.
In a 2003 study, cassia cinnamon was given in ranges of 1 to 6 grams a day. In under sixty days, cassia was found to lower glucose levels up to 29%, triglycerides up to 30%, LDL cholesterol up to 27% and overall cholesterol (by up to 26%).
As far as blood sugar, it was found that cassia increased the cells receptivity to insulin, reducing insulin resistance
What are the risks of taking cinnamon?
· Side effects. Cinnamon usually causes no side effects. Heavy use of cinnamon may irritate the mouth and lips, causing sores. In some people, it can cause an allergic reaction. Applied to the skin, it might cause redness and irritation.
· Risks. Very high quantities of cassia cinnamon may be toxic, particularly in people with liver problems. Because cinnamon may lower blood sugar, people with diabetes may need to adjust their treatment if they use cinnamon supplements. People who have cancer that’s affected by hormone levels, like breast cancer, should not take cinnamon. An ingredient in some cinnamon products, coumarin, may cause liver problems. Given the lack of evidence about its safety, cinnamon -- as a treatment -- is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
· Interactions. If you take any medicines regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using cinnamon supplements. They could interact with medicines like antibiotics, diabetes drugs, blood thinners, heart medicines, and others.
WebMD lists the following
Ways to increase your cinnamon intake
2. Cinnamon Tea
3. Sprinkle on cereal and or yogurt
4. Sprinkled on sliced bananas ( with honey)
5. Mix in with smoothies
Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes, Diabetes Care 26:3215-3218, 2003.