Tantalizing Aroma of Cinnamon!
Ahhhhh…the amazing aroma of cinnamon! Doesn’t it just conjure up happy memories of the holiday season or perhaps a warm cozy evening snuggled next to a crackling fire sipping on cinnamon flavored tea or hot chocolate? Well, you get the picture!
Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees and has been used as a spice for thousands of years. Once regarded as rare and precious, cinnamon can now be found in every grocery store. It has long been used to treat numerous conditions ranging from digestive disorders to diabetes to athletes foot. But did you know that science is now showing that cinnamon is can also improve brain function, specifically learning ability?
A recent study from Rush University Medical Center found something astonishing, by simply feeding mice cinnamon, they became better learners! And based on their findings, Kalipada Pahan, Phd, and lead researcher of the study said,
“We have successfully used cinnamon to reverse biochemical, cellular and anatomical changes that occur in the brains of mice with poor learning…This would be one of the safest and the easiest approaches to convert poor learners to good learners.”
Of course I hear you now, “Mice are not people!” But check this out!
The findings of this study got some real attention when it appeared that cinnamon may hold a significant key in stopping the progression of Parkinson’s Disease (For more info about Parkinson’s Disease please go here). By taking in cinnamon orally, the spice is metabolized into sodium benzoate. It then crosses the blood brain barrier entering the brain and stops the destruction of Parkin and DJ-1 (contributing factor in the development of Parkinson’s Disease). Further, it also brings neurotransmitter levels back to normal and improves motor functions.
This is such promising data that the National Institutes of Health has issued substantial grants for more studies.
But that’s not all that this mighty spice offers for our health!
Due its high content of polyphenols, cinnamon is considered a “Superfood,” even out performing garlic as a powerful antioxidant! An interesting study published in Diabetics Care found that compounds found in cinnamon actually help improve blood glucose and lipid levels:
“The results of this study demonstrate that intake of 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon per day reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes and suggest that the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.”
Research out of Wheeling Jesuit University found that simply tasting or smelling cinnamon can improve attention, memory and improved mood by reducing irritability! Which is why current research is looking into the effects of cinnamon with Alzheimer’s Disease.
However, this fragrant spice is not just for our taste buds and olfactory pleasure. It is also a natural anti-bacterial and anti-microbial spice. A few drops of cinnamon oil in water can be used to wipe down kitchen and bathroom services which is great alternative for those who avoid chemical based disinfectants.
How about using cinnamon to those to relieve muscle soreness? Because cinnamon is a warming agent, cinnamon oil is just the trick to sooth those aching fatigued muscles.
Now here is an important note about cinnamon. Did you know that there are actually two major yes of cinnamon that is widely available?
- Chinese or Cassia Cinnamon
- Ceylon Cinnamon
Though both are metabolized in the body as sodium benzoate (remember this is a key component of cinnamon – see above), studies have shown that Ceylon Cinnamon is considered to be purer than it’s cousin and more suitable for those wishing to consume higher amounts of cinnamon for the health benefits. The reason begin that Ceylon Cinnamon contains less coumarin, which is known to have hepatocyte properties that have the potential to cause liver damage in high dosages.
Though Ceylon Cinnamon can be bit more pricey, I think you’ll agree that the few extra cents is more than worth it!
Looking for something different to try with added cinnamon? Then how about my delicious Sweet Potato Smoothie? You’re going to love it!
To read more about the health benefits of cinnamon, check out A Spice to be Treasured