A Cinnamon Supplement: Cinnamon, Spice and Everything Nice

A cinnamon supplement is worth considering.  That ancient spice and staple of holiday cheer, is getting a lot of attention lately.  Who can resist the aroma of Cinnabon's hot oversize rolls wafting through the malls and airports or the comfort of a hot cup of cinnamon tea on a cold winter’s night?

For several millennia this aromatic bark from certain trees of the Laurel family has been sought after as an important spice, incense and medicinal agent.  

It is referred to numerous times in the Bible.  King Solomon wrote in his Song of Solomon that cinnamon scents the garments of his beloved like the smell of Lebanon.  The healing and health benefits of this spice go back over 4000 years where it was noted that it tended to boost cognitive function and improve memory.

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Cognitive Function

Now that's very interesting in that just a few years ago, on April 24, 2004, Dr. P. Zoladz and his researchers reported that chewing "a cinnamon flavored gum or just smelling cinnamon enhanced the study participants cognitive processing". 

A number of the participant’s mental capabilities were tested while working on a computer program and the scores improved significantly after introducing the distinctive aroma of this spice into their environment.  How about that!  Next time final exams roll around remember to dab a little cinnamon oil under your nose.  Can a whiff of cinnamon be considered a cinnamon supplement?

Diabetes and Heart Disease

In addition to brain function there is evidence that the antioxidants contained in a water-soluble cinnamon supplement extract of this tree bark could help reduce the risk factors leading to or associated with diabetes and heart disease.

A joint study was conducted by the USDA's Agriculture Research Service (ARS), Integrity Neutraceuticals International and the Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France and reported by the ARS in their newsletter of August 24, 2010. 

It was a random, placebo controlled 12-week study using 22 obese volunteers, all with impaired blood glucose levels.  After giving one group a cinnamon supplement but not the control group, the results showed 13 to 23% improvement in a number of antioxidant variables and correlated with decreases in fasting glucose.

Analyzing Cinnamon

If we wanted to get very scientific, a study from Thermo Fisher Scientific in San Jose, CA and Shanghai, China titled, Profiling and Characterization of Polyphenol Polymers from Cinnamon Using an Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer, did identify the active components in cinnamon extract. 

They turned out to be procyanidin polymers and a range of them was identified and characterized.  These particular polymers are the antioxidant catechin flavonols found in numerous plants including apples, red grapes, green tea, blueberries and others. 

This and numerous studies are compiling more and more evidence that regular consumption of these catechins are very likely to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  An occasional cinnamon bun or cup of cinnamon tea just isn't enough; a useful quantity for realizing the health benefits require a cinnamon supplement. 

The Live Superfoods link below will take you to their home page where you can type "cinnamon" in the search box or any other nutrient you may be looking for.

Live Superfoods - The Raw Superfoods Superstore

The Sum of the Parts

From whfoods.org we read that several of cinnamon's healthful qualities stem from the fact that 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon contain .76mg of the trace mineral manganese, 2.48 grams of dietary fiber, 1.72mg of iron and 55.68mg of calcium.

This combination of substances works to reduce bile salts from the body thus mitigating its damaging effects on colon cells.  The mechanism would indicate that it may afford some protection against colon cancer. 

Bile elimination by fiber means that replacement bile must be produced which needs to break down cholesterol in order to replenish the supply of bile. Here we have an implication for protection against atherosclerosis and heart disease.

The abstract of a comparative cross-sectional clinical study (Jan.2006 vol. 3 no. 1) on cinnamon presented as a research article in Future Medicine concluded that cinnamon has a high antioxidant potential and "may be beneficial in alleviating the complications of many illnesses related to oxidative stress in humans".

Cautionary Notes

A cinnamon supplement is the way to go but one caution is to watch for brands with high levels of coumarin; very common in cassia cinnamon but negligible in Ceylon cinnamon (true cinnamon).  High levels of coumarin can damage the liver and kidneys and also acts as a blood thinner.  

Unfortunately, it is the cassia cinnamon that is most common in the market as a spice and in cheaper cinnamon supplements.

So it looks like we have another winner in cinnamon if we choose a high quality Ceylon cinnamon brand and keep the dosage to around 1/2 teaspoon per day.  Heart patients and diabetics should not consume a cinnamon supplement without consulting their doctor.

Starwest Botanicals, shown in the banner link above, features at least 50 cinnamon products in their Bulk Herbs and Spices section covering all types and forms (sticks, powders, oils, and more).  It's a great mouth-watering site to surf and see all the taste sensations they offer.  Click the banner above or the links below to get there and shop around.

Cinnamon Sticks 5 Inch (Ceylon)
from: Starwest Botanicals Inc.
Organic Cinnamon Powder Jar
from: Starwest Botanicals Inc.

Recommended Reading

A couple of recommended titles for cinnamon are shown below.  One is scholarly and directed at management of diabetes; the other is down to earth and highly affordable.

Use of Cinnamon for the Management of Diabetes: Potential use of Cinnamon in the Treatment of Diabetes

Cinnamon: Spices of Life (Woodland Health Series)

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