When we first think of cinnamon, we think of a delicious spice which can be mixed in with both dessert and tea. However, like other spices, cinnamon historically has been prized for its medicinal purposes, modern science has now confirmed what people have always known.
Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of cinnamon trees, the inner bark is then extracted and the woody parts removed. When it dries, it curls into rolls which are the cinnamon stick we can purchase from our local supermarket, quite the turn of events when you realise cinnamon was once deemed rare and valuable and presented as a gift for kings.
Cinnamon is thought to have many health benefits and is used frequently in Asian herbal medicine. The distinct smell and flavour come from the essential oil contained in the bark, this is known as the cinnamaldehyde, it has shown to provide anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant and anti-fungal properties.
Cinnamon is also loaded with antioxidants such as polyphenols which have been shown to provide potent anti-inflammatory effects for the body.
Cinnamon has shown to have prebiotic properties which promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and helps supress the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
Cinnamon has shown to improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin which can result in reducing insulin resistance in the body thus lowering blood sugar levels.
Apart from the beneficial effects of insulin resistance, cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels by several other mechanisms:
- Cinnamon has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters your bloodstream after a meal. It is able to do this by disrupting a number of digestive enzymes which slow the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract.
Cinnamon has also shown it can act on cells by mimicking insulin, this greatly improves the uptake of glucose by your cells, but is slower than insulin itself.