Spices, those little bottles in your kitchen that add flavor, color, and complexity to your food, may actually be medicinal herbs.  More and more modern research is building on what the ancients knew, spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and white pepper can be very effective medicines. Spices are increasingly being recognized for their ability to prevent cancer or slow its growth, relieve indigestion, lower blood pressure, and much more.

To be more specific, today’s topic is cinnamon.

Cinnamon, that pungent-sweet brown spice that comes in sticks or powder, and while commonly used to add flavor to coffee or desserts, is so much more.

Chinese Medicine uses of Cinnamon

According to the Chinese medicine understanding of cinnamon, it can treat

Ref: Chinese Materia Medica, People’s Medical Publishing House.

Ayurveda uses of Cinnamon

  • Balances 3 doshas
  • Treatment and lifestyle change for obesity
  • Relief of headache, when mixed with eucalyptus oil

Ref: Course study at Greens Ayur Center

Modern Medicine research on Cinnamon

  • Stabilizes and manages blood sugar
  • Reduces disposition to diabetes
  • Limits conversion of dietary sugars into abdominal fat, due to its effects on blood sugar
  • Other conditions which could potentially benefit, with only preliminary research:
    • cancer
    • high cholesterol and heart diseases
    • polycystic ovarian syndrom (PCOS)

Ref: 5 Healing Spices by Bharat Aggarwal, PhD, Experience Life magazine, Jan/Feb 2012 and Four Hour Body, by Tim Ferris

There is some debate about whether you can get any or all of these benefits from standard spice rack cinnamon.  At the very least, most advisers agree, the spice must be fresh (less than a few months old) or else you’re better off buying the sticks and grinding them as needed. Some people argue the best cinnamon is Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka. But my feeling is, any (fresh) is better than none.

Personally I’ll take up to a teaspoon of cinnamon a day, making hot cinnamon tea out of it, or adding it to yogurt, applesauce, or nut butters. Get creative.  And think about including cinnamon anytime you’re going to be eating a high-carb meal or dessert.