Want to be more alert, refreshed and less frustrated while driving on long trips? A study reported in 2005 showed that this can be achieved just by smelling cinnamon (or peppermint). After mentioning cinnamon in my last post, I figure I need to explain in this post why I eat it every morning. (I'll eventually write about peppermint. Promise.)
So when I know that I am going to be taking a long drive, I make sure I get a good whiff of cinnamon as I add it to my breakfast cereal. Another good reason for taking that morning sniff is that I want to boost my brain. Research results were presented in 2004 to the annual meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences, in Sarasota, FL, that showed chewing cinnamon flavored gum or just smelling cinnamon improved participants' scores on tasks related to attentional processes, virtual recognition memory, working memory, and visual-motor speed.
But first, before I tell you about all the other wonderful benefits of cinnamon that might encourage you to eat it every day like I do, I must warn you. There are actually different cinnamons. Ceylon cinnamon is the true cinnamon and is typically more expensive than the other cinnamons (called cassia cinnamons) that are more commonly used. The big difference between them is that cassia cinnamons have higher levels of coumarins compared to the Ceylon cinnamon. The anti-coagulant properties of coumarins does not cause a problem when ingesting Ceyon cinnamon, but can become dangerous when ingesting the cassia cinnamons, if consumed in large amounts on a regular basis. This is especially dangerous for someone who is on blood-thinning medication!
OK. So how do you tell them apart? Click here for a wonderful explanation about the differences and click here for a visual way to tell them apart. Then, if you decide to consume cinnamon on a daily basis, make sure you get Ceylon cinnamon from now on.
Clinical trials held at the University of California in Santa Barbara have shown that cinnamon affects cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose transport. In a 2003 study, diets of diabetic men and women were supplemented with one, three or six grams (just more than one teaspoon) of cinnamon daily. After 40 days their LDL cholesterol levels fell as much as 26% and it made no difference on the amount of cinnamon taken.
Researchers have discovered than cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, reducing the rise in blood sugar after eating. So seasoning a high carb food with cinnamon can help lessen its impact on your blood sugar levels.
Researchers from the US Agricultural Research Service have reported that less than half a teaspoon per day of cinnamon reduces blood sugar levels in persons with type 2 diabetes. Cholesterol and triglyerieds were lowered as well. When daily cinnamon was stopped, blood sugar levels began to rise.
Cinnamon is also a powerful antioxidant. A study in the journal of Nutrition found that out of all spices, cinnamon is one of the richest sources of disease-fighting antioxidant.
Cinnamon's antiseptic properties help to prevent infection by killing decay-causing bacteria, fungi, and viruses. One German study showed that the use of cinnamon bark suppressed the cause of most urinary tract infections and the fungus responsible for vaginal yeast infections. It is also helpful in relieving athlete's foot.
Recent research has shown that cinnamon's antimicrobial properties are so effective that it can be used as an alternative to traditional food preservatives. In a study, published in the August 2003 issue of the International Journal of Food Microbiology, the addition of just a few drops of cinnamon essential oil to 100 ml (approximately 3 ounces) of carrot broth, which was then refrigerated, inhibited the growth of the foodborne pathogenic Bacillus cereus for at least 60 days. When the broth was refrigerated without the addition of cinnamon oil, the pathogenic B. cereus flourished despite the cold temperature. The researchers noted that the addition of cinnamon not only acted as an effective preservative but improved the flavor of the broth.
Cinnamon is often an ingredient in toothpaste, mouthwash, and other oral hygiene products because it helps kill the bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease. And with cinnamon's anti-inflammatory action, inflammations of the throat and pharynx may be relieved through its use.
And that last action - anti-inflammatory - is the major reason why I add to my cereal cinnamon with ginger every day. All the anti-inflammatory power I can get to keep arthritis at bay! However, if you have heard about the remedy of honey and cinnamon mixture for arthritis pain (that passed around the Internet), I am sorry to tell you... but read this.
I have found another wonderful use of cinnamon besides eating it for its health benefits. Research has shown that cinnamon oil (as well as clove oil and eugenol oil) is an effective snake repellent. Snakes will retreat when sprayed directly with this oil and will exit cargo or other confined spaces when the oil is introduced to the area.
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