Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 31st 2017 Contents B34 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Thursday, August 31, 2017
CONTINUES FROM YESTERDAY
Cinnamon is one of the world's most popular
spices, sprinkled on lattes, boiled with ciders
and enjoyed in numerous dishes. Without it,
Thanksgiving and Christmas meals might well
become tasteless and definitely less fragrant.
Harvested from the inner bark of a tropical ever-
green plant, cinnamon has been used in Ayurvedic
medicine to treat respiratory and digestive problems
Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon as a perfume
during the embalming process, while Romans used it
in funeral pyres to mask the stench of burning flesh.
The Bible mentions cinnamon several times, most
commonly as a way to perfume bedding, clothes and
anointing oil. The essential oil form is made from the
bark, leaves or twigs of the plant.
But it's cinnamon's use as a medicinal agent that
has scientists buzzing, trying to determine just how
well its antioxidant capabilities might work to better
The antioxidant properties of cinnamon are also
being studied for their impact on the formation of
the plaques and tangles of Alzheimer's disease and
other dementias. Cinnamaldehyde, a compound re-
sponsible for the spice's sweet smell, and epicatechin,
a powerful antioxidant that's also in blueberries, red
wine and chocolate, seem to offer some protection
against the oxidative stress that damages tau, a key
player in the development of dementia.
Another study found a component of Ceylon cin-
namon to have the same effect. However, research has
occurred only in mice, rats and laboratory Petri dishes.
"It appears to work as an anti-inflammatory or
antioxidant, protecting the body on a cellular level
from bad things that happen," Wright said, "by getting
rid of waste products and keeping the cells healthy."
Cinnamon and other traditional Indian medicinal
plants are also being tested in the fight against HIV.
One study found that green tea, elderberry and some
extracts of cinnamon rich in flavonoids blocked the
virus from entering and infecting certain cells.
"That's how AZT works, which is one of the early
HIV drugs," said Wright, who specialises in nutrition
for infectious disease at the University of South Flori-
da. "And while that's interesting, what I would hate is
that patients will use cinnamon and other supplements
instead of their HIV medications.
"Having worked with many HIV clients over the
years, I know there's definitely a big interest in sup-
plements," she said. "But I would always caution them
to always use the meds that we know work, that have
been tested and dosed, and then look carefully to make
sure there are no conflicts with any additional sup-
The research on cinnamon doesn't stop there.
Ceylon cinnamon has also been associated with
cancer-fighting properties in rodents, anti-parasitic
effects, improved diabetic neuropathy, lower blood
pressure and wound healing, including liver damage.
Studies have shown that solutions of cinnamon oil
can kill a number of common bacteria, such as strep-
tococcus and E coli. The National Center for Com-
plementary and Integrative Health is investigating
cinnamon's impact on multiple sclerosis.
Using a computer model, biochemist Stockert
found that cinnamon was as effective as resveratrol,
an antioxidant in red wine known for anti-aging and
disease-fighting properties, in activating SIRT-1 ---
also known as the longevity gene because of its role
in repairing DNA.
"In some cases, it did better than resveratrol," Stock-
ert said. "We're talking anti-cancer, anti-aging, a very,
very big deal if that is what is going on."
Based on all this preliminary research, the potential
of cinnamon seems enormous. But experts caution
that it's still too early in the scientific process to sug-
gest cinnamon as a daily supplement.
"I don't recommend capsules. There's not enough
science to tell us to take capsules," Wright said.
"You are affecting your body's signalling," Stockert
said, "and that's significant. We're at an early stage
in research where we don't know how cinnamon will
affect most people. Is it healthy to cook with spices and
use them liberally? I'm sure that's fine. But I would be
cautious about taking any supplements on their own."
"I think the bottom line is that cinnamon is a perfect
pantry staple, a pleasant spice that can add flavour to
foods for minimal calories, with antioxidant proper-
ties that may give an edge to those looking to better
control their blood sugar," Drayer agreed. "But we
need to see more research before we can make any
solid health claims linking cinnamon to reduce risk
of disease or improved health." (cnn.com)
Can cinnamon help our health?
Links Archive August 30th 2017 September 1st 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page