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November 5, 2007

Cinnamon Health Benefits
M. J. McKeown, MD, FACOG, FACS

cinnamon botanical picture There are many kinds of cinnamon with several names..., but the best is that which they call mosulum discern that which is best depends upon the sweetness of its smell. Now all cinnamon is warming, diuretic, softening and digestive. It cleans away, heats, and thins pus...
The Herbal of Dioscorides the Greek

The medicinal properties of nature were all around the early humans. The Shamans of ancient and modern societies know the selection, preparation and use of numerous medicinal plants. The rise and subsequent dominance of circumscribed, materialistic, scientific, Western Medicine relegated much of this ancient knowledge to the background and pigeonholed it as Alternative Medicine. Fortunately much of this knowledge was recorded and kept by practitioners of this Alternative Medicine. In recent times the scientific traditional Western Medicine practitioners have begun to realize the efficacy of many of these preparations. There is now a growing body of published research supporting uses of herbal preparations. Cinnamon has many medicinal uses now supported by well done research studies.

Ayurvedic and Eastern Medicine have used cinnamon and associated spices of nutmeg and cloves for centuries. The cultures around the Mediterranean area developed a diet style that incorporated these spices. This diet which has had its most developed pattern is best seen in use now on the island of Crete.

Health Benefits Of Cinnamon
Supports digestive function
Constricts and tones tissues
Relieves congestion
Relieves pain and stiffness of muscles and joints
Relieves menstrual discomfort
Has blood thinning components that stimulate circulation
Anti-inflammatory compounds that may relieve arthritis
Attacks urinary tract infections, tooth decay and gum disease
Antimicrobial and can kill E. coli
Helps blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes.

The beneficial effects on Type 2 diabetes is where most of the scientific investigation has been done.

Studies are showing details of the mechanisms of cinnamon's actions. Studies by Cao, H, et al2 show that cinnamon affects the expression of tristetraprolin, insulin receptor and glucose transporter.4 These factors are involved in sugar entry into cells and they also inhibit factors involved in inflammation.

The work of Richard Anderson and Marilyn Polansky and found on the USDA web site on diabetes notes the following effects of cinnamon;
½teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL
When ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder with 1 tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast led to significant reduction in the pain of arthritis
it inhibits bacterial growth in food and fights E. coli bacteria
a teaspoon of cinnamon contains 28 mg of calcium, 1 mg of iron, more than a gram of fiber, and vitamins C and K and manganese
1 gram (¼ teaspoon twice daily) significantly lowers blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol cinnamon makes cells more sensitive to the insulin that is available. An active ingredient in cinnamon, proanthocyanidin activates the insulin receptor inside the cell
its most active compound, methylhydrocy chalcone polymer (MHCP), increased glucose metabolism 20%
MHCP prevented formation of damaging oxygen radicals in a blood platelet assay

Studies by Tung, YT3 , Kim, DH 4 , Singh, G5 , Altschuler, JA6 , Fabian, D77 , Oussalah, M8 , Mang,B9 , Ooi,LS 10, have found the following benefits of cinnamon;
major constituents of the oil; trans-cinnamaldehyde, caryophyllene 1-borneol, 1-borynl acetate, eugenol, beta-caryophyllene, E- nerolidol, and cinnamyl acetate have excellent anti-inflammatory activities.
Cinnamaldehyde (CNA) modulates inflammatory NF-kappaB activation via the redox-related NIK/IKK and MAPK pathways through the reduction of oxidative stress
the bark volatile oils are active anti-bacterials and anti-fungals
in testing in adolescent Type 1 diabetics cinnamon was found not effective in improving glycemic control.
Chinese cinnamon was effective in reducing the intracellular pH of E. coli O157:H7
Chinese cinnamon significantly damages the cell membrane of the bacteria
Cinnamaldehyde is 85% of the essential oil and the purity is 98%. These were effective in inhibiting various bacteria; Gram-positive Staph aureus; Gram-negative E. coli, Vibrio cholerae, Vibrio parahemolyticus , Salmonella typhmurium; fungi including yeasts, C. albicans, C. tropicalis, C. glabrata, C. krusei; filamentous molds, Aspergillus; dermatophytes Microsporum gypseum, Trichophyton rubrum, Trichophyton mentagraphytes.
Cinnamon extract has a moderate effect in reducing fasting plasma glucose concentration and subjects with a higher initial level benefited more.
A study by Elizabeth Wagner, ND has shown that aqueous extracts of cinnamon led to decreases in systolic blood pressure in an animal model.11

However, a study by J.A. Altschuler showed that cinnamon is not effective for improving glycemic control in adolescents with Type 1 diabetes. 6

Studies by Cao, H, et al demonstrated that water-soluble cinnamon extract (CE) and HPLC-purified cinnamon polyphenols with doubly linked procyanidin type-A polymers display insulin like activity.12 Their studies suggest that cinnamon exhibits the potential to increase the amount of proteins involved in insulin signaling, glucose transport, and anti-inflammatory/anti-angiogenesis response.

Kim, W., et al found that a naphthalenemethyl ester of 3,4-dihydroxyhydrocinnamic acid (DHH105) showed the highest glucose transport activity. DHH105 increases the maximum speed of glucose transport and the translocation of glucose transporter 4, in adipocytes resulting in increased glucose uptake. In addition, DHH105 enhanced phosphorylation of the insulin receptor-beta-subunit and insulin receptor substrate-1 in adipocytes both in vitro and in vivo.13

The classic Mediterranean diet is beneficial to general health and in particular glucose metabolism and cardiovascular health.
The diet utilizes spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and turmeric liberally.
Cinnamon has strong evidence to support the knowledge that it is beneficial in the control of glucose metabolism, lipid metabolism and secondarily in blood pressure control.

A final comment is that since this classic Mediterranean diet and its spices are so beneficial to general health it is unfortunate that the diets of many of the more Westernized of the Mediterranean countries show an shift to the diets of the west with loss of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and its spices.

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