The Spartan Guide to Cinnamon
The Claim You’re likely familiar with cinnamon’s critical role in fall dishes like apple pie, but it’s much more than just a seasonal spice. Traditionally, cultures all over the world have use extracts from the cinnamon tree’s bark as medicine, helping to both treat chronic disease and antibacterial.
The Evidence In addition to a payload of antioxidants like flavonoids and tannins, cinnamon contains a number of interesting bioactive compounds: Cinnamaldehyde lends that famously warm scent, while Methylhydroxychalcone polymers (say it three times fast!) contribute to the spice's insulin-sensitizing power. Many health practitioners consider cinnamon an anti-diabetic, since studies show that it slows the speed of glucose entering the bloodstream. That can help prevent blood-sugar spikes. It also seems to improve how cells themselves use glucose, which makes it a natural fit in sweet foods like sweet potatoes and pies.
In addition to cinnamon's power to stabilize blood sugar, laboratory studies demonstrate that it fights bacteria and inflammation, though it’s still unclear how effective it is in, you know, an actual human body. Still, integrative physicians have faith in the brown-red spice. “Because of its high antioxidant properties, it's is often used to reduce free radicals and inflammation—the culprit to many diseases today,” says Chris Niedzinski, the owner of InnerLink Chiropractic in Wixom, Michigan. “That’s things like heart disease, cancer, neurological disorders, autoimmune dysfunctions and diabetes. Often with heart conditions, cinnamon is great to aid in circulation and tissue repair.”
How to Use It Cinnamon you find at the grocery store might be Ceylon cinnamon or cassia cinnamon; the latter seems to have stronger antioxidant and blood-sugar-lowering qualities. But it’s also higher in coumarin, a natural toxin that provides a flavorful bite. So look for the Ceylon kind to be safe.
If you're not a fan of the flavor, supplements also exist. “In the clinic, I like to recommend it in essential oil form,” Niedzinski says. “A couple drops a day on your tongue is all you need,” But his preferred method? “I add a few sprinkles to my home coffee grounds before brewing,” he says.