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Ounce of Prevention | The healing power of cinnamon

Published:Tuesday | August 2, 2016 | 12:07 AM

Cinnamon is a popular spice made from the Cinnamomum tree. Its history dates back to ancient Egypt where it was regarded as rare and valuable and reserved for royalty. Today, cinnamon is readily available and is used in a variety of foods and recipes. Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of the Cinnamomum tree and extracting the inner bark.

The dried bark forms strips that curl into rolls, called cinnamon sticks. The sticks can be ground to form cinnamon powder. The smell and flavour of cinnamon comes from the oils in the bark, which contain a special compound called Cinnamaldehyde. An impressive body of medical research has uncovered the many health benefits of using cinnamon.


Cinnamon and Diabetes


Cinnamon is well known for its ability to lower blood sugar. Studies show that it does so by several mechanisms.

First, cinnamon has properties that help reduce insulin resistance, a common cause of diabetes. Also, cinnamon has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal by slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates.

Research has confirmed that cinnamon can lower fasting blood sugar levels by up to 10-29 per cent. The effective dose is around half to two teaspoons (1- 6 grams) of cinnamon per day.

Cinnamon and inflammation

Inflammation in the body normally helps fight infections and repair tissue damage but uncontrolled inflammation underlies many of our health problems. It becomes a problem when it is chronic (long-term) and directed against the body's own tissues.

Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory because it is loaded with powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols. These protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

In a study that compared the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, including 'superfoods' like garlic and oregano, cinnamon was found to be the most powerful. In fact, this makes cinnamon a strong natural food preservative.


Cinnamon for infections


Both cinnamon oil and cinnamon bark have powerful anti-bacterial activity. One study out of France found Cinnamon bark oil effective against 65 strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

You can dilute cinnamon oil in water to disinfect kitchen countertops, sinks, refrigerators, doorknobs, toys and other things. If you want to avoid harsh cancer-causing chemicals, use cinnamon oil. Cinnamon sticks are also useful but you need to use a lot of it to make a difference. If you want a mild disinfectant, a couple of cinnamon sticks boiled in hot water might prove useful.

Cinnamon has the ability to stop drug- resistant yeast infections and the oil is useful against candida. Drinking cinnamon tea with cinnamon bark oil added is a great way to fight internal candida infections and boost your immune system.

For toenail fungus or athlete's foot, cinnamon leaf oil is a powerful anti-fungal far superior to many commercial treatments. You can use cinnamon sticks, tea or powder for internal treatment and a few drops of cinnamon leaf oil and soak your feet to treat the toenail fungus or athlete's foot.

A great remedy for a stomach bug is cinnamon. Research has shown cinnamon is most effective against E-coli, and Salmonella. Use cinnamon tea infused with cinnamon bark oil that has high levels of cinnamaldehyde.

Colds, sore throat and cough

At the first sign of sniffles or an itch in your throat, take some cinnamon tea. It often stops an impending illness in its tracks. Again, this is related to the anti-bacterial properties and warming properties of cinnamon and its ability to increase blood flow and thereby improve blood oxygen levels to fight illness. Traditional Chinese medicine commonly recommends cinnamon for coughs.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

(IBS)As a digestive, cinnamon dramatically reduces the uncomfortable feelings associated with IBS especially the bloating. It does this by killing bacteria and healing infections, allowing the gastric juices to work normally. If you have stomach cramps or upsets, a cup of cinnamon tea, two to three times per day may dramatically reduce the pain.

Insect repellent

The anti-microbial qualities of cinnamon leaf oil is often used for head lice treatment, and the control of black ants, bed bugs, dust mites and roaches. It is a good defense against mosquitoes. A Taiwanese study found that it not only kills mosquito larvae but also acts as a bug repellent.


Odour neutraliser


Cinnamon oil is an effective odour neutraliser as it kills bacteria that create bad odours, instead of only masking odours. Two to five drops of cinnamon oil mixed with water in a diffuser or spraying diluted cinnamon oil will, within minutes, neutralise bad odours. Alternatively, you can wipe down toilets, floors, garbage cans and the interior of vehicles to rapidly remove foul odours. The cinnamon smell also has the effect of improving your mood and lifting your spirit.

You may email Dr Vendryes at tonyvendryes@gnail.com or listen to An Ounce of Prevention on POWER106FM on Fridays at 8:15 p.m. Visit www.tonyvendryes.com for details on his books and articles.