The sweet, woody scent of cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) has been known from almost the beginning of time as one of the warmest, most soothing fragrances on the planet. Derived from the brown bark of cinnamon trees and native to Sri Lanka, it’s been used for millennia as a spice, a medicine, and an extremely valuable trade commodity. Chinese botanical textbooks mentioned it as early as 2,700 B.C., and Biblical references are numerous.
Cinnamon is a circulatory stimulant, anti-spasmodic, anti-septic and antiviral. It is a warming herb that has been traditionally used for stomach upsets, aching muscles, viral infections and is supportive and strengthening.
Recent studies show that cinnamon can help to normalise blood sugar concentrations for diabetic and pre-diabetic conditions. One study in particular showed that patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes showed up to 30% decrease in fasting blood sugar levels on administration of cinnamon over 40 days. The trial also measured triglyceride and total cholesterol levels in the patients. These were also found to be reduced significantly. These actions highlight Cinnamon as a good candidate for the treatment of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
Other studies have shown that cinnamon can also improve blood pressure, lean body mass, and antioxidant status. Researchers have also investigated the use of cinnamon to reduce the production of the defective tau protein that is associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Cinnamon has a neuro-protective action on the brain, possibly due to its effects on brain insulin signalling, inflammation and brain plasticity.
Cinnamon is also being investigated as a cancer treament. In a study examining cervical cancer, it was shown that cancer cells showed reduced migration and increased cell breakdown (apoptosis) on exposure to cinnamon.
Cinnamon is used in a variety of different ways around the world. It is used as a fish and meat preservative, and as a flavouring in many dishes, teas, and breads. As cinnamon is sweet, it is often found in dessert dishes and breakfast cereals. Cinnamon can be used to flavour rice pudding, hot chocolate or other hot beverages. It can be included in curries, stewed fruit, ice cream or yogurt. It can also be used as an insect repellent, and the leaf oil is highly effective at killing mosquito larvae!
However you choose to use cinnamon, it can be a delightful accompaniment to many foods, providing warmth, comfort and a wealth of health benefits!
 Khan, A. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes.Diabetes Care. 2003 Dec;26(12):3215-8
 Anderson, R.A. et al. Cinnamon Counteracts the Negative Effects of a High Fat/High Fructose Diet on Behavior, Brain Insulin Signaling and Alzheimer-Associated Change.PLoS One. 2013; 8(12)
 Koppikar, S.J et al. Aqueous cinnamon extract (ACE-c) from the bark of Cinnamomum cassia causes apoptosis in human cervical cancer cell line (SiHa) through loss of mitochondrial membrane potential.BMC Cancer. 2010 May 18;10:210