Cinnamon as a stress reducer?
The bioactivity of cinnamon resides in its oil, which contains approximately 90% cinnamaldehyde. Historically, cinnamon has been used for its antibacterial, antispasmodic, anti-ulcer, choleretic, sedative, antifungal, antiviral, antipyretic, lipolytic and cytotoxic properties. The German Commission E has approved cinnamon for appetite loss, dyspepsia (heartburn), bloating and flatulence.
Perhaps the most common historical use of cinnamon was its strong antispasmodic action, which is due to the cinnamaldehyde. Some research in mice has shown cinnamaldehyde to be affective against stress induced ulcers (250mg/kg). The Eugenol content of cinnamon is the active that seems to provide the antiseptic, antiviral properties.
Watch out for liver sensitivity
There are some interactions with the use of cinnamon. The Eugenol content in cinnamon may inhibit certain hydroxylation systems in the liver. Hydroxylation is a very important means of the liver uses to make molecules more water soluble. Inhibiting hydroxylation reactions in the liver changes how the liver aids in detoxifying most medications. In addition, the Coumarin content of cinnamon is low, but in very sensitive individuals on blood thinning medication, caution should be taken with cinnamon at very high doses. Coumarins, natural or synthetic, will thin the blood.
Can it lower cholesterol?
In 2003, the journal Diabetes Care reported perhaps one of the most interesting findings for cinnamon in decades. Khan and coworkers set out to determine if Cinnamon improves blood glucose, triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and LDL in people with Type II diabetes. Type II diabetes usually occurs in adults and is strongly linked to genetics (more so than Type I - insulin dependent).
Adding 1, 3 or 6 grams of cinnamon led to significantly lower levels of serum glucose after 40 days. Each dose provided approximately the same results. After 20 days of removing cinnamon, the group that consumed the lowest dosage (1-3 grams) had the lowest levels of blood sugar, suggesting that lower dose may seem to have better prolonged results when cinnamon is discontinued. So much for the more is better notion! The cinnamon groups also had reductions in serum triglycerides, LDL and Total Cholesterol.
Results of the Dr. Khan study
After 40 days, all 3 levels of cinnamon reduced fasting glucose by 18-29%, triglycerides 23-30%, LDL cholesterol 7-27% and total cholesterol (12-26%). The changes in HDL (good cholesterol) were not significant.
Its seems apparent that the historical use of herbs is important, however bringing research into this decade is also critical; we need to learn about new properties and to understand proper dose and possible drug interactions. For those with elevated blood sugar/cholesterol, put some cinnamon on your oatmeal in the morning and dont be surprised if your cholesterol and blood sugar improve.
George Tardik B.Sc.(hon), RHN, RNCP, (ND cand.) has been practicing nutrition for 10 years. He is a fourth year intern at the Canadian College of Naturopathic medicines RSNC clinic. Hes been featured on CBCs Newsworld, Marketplace and Sports Journal. George specializes in metabolism, weight-loss, diabetes and sports nutrition. He practices out of Nature's Source. For booking appointments, please call 416.242.8500.