Robin Williams, comedian who recently committed suicide, was fighting Parkinson’s disease. The disease is a devastating condition that causes tremors.
There is no cure for Parkinson but cinnamon may help to stop its progression. Chinese have been using it as a medicine for centuries to help improve circulation and digestion. Cinnamon has been used for flavoring toothpaste, herbal teas and various desserts.
Cinnamon comes from the bark of trees. It has long been considered a medicinal plant. There are several varieties, harvested from southern China to Southeast Asia. For years, there have been hints that adding cinnamon to your diet can help control blood sugar. And a recent spate of studies adds to the evidence that the effect is real.
Many studies over the years have shown that cinnamon reduces inflammation and fights bacteria. The impact of cinnamon to combat other diseases is listed below.
Parkinson’s disease: According to a study at Rush Medical Center, cinnamon can reverse changes in the brain seen in Parkinson’s patients. Researchers found that when cinnamon was consumed, it was metabolized into sodium benzoate, which reversed biochemical, cellular, and anatomical changes in the brain. Mice that were fed the spice showed better brain function and motor skills, which are often affected in Parkinson’s patients.
Diabetes: Numerous studies show that cinnamon is a safe, effective way to reduce blood sugar levels. A study published in Diabetes Care found that consuming cinnamon over a 40-day period reduced blood glucose levels up to 29 percent. A study conducted at Ball State, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found that when healthy adults – those of average weight as well as those who were obese – ate a breakfast cereal with 6 grams of cinnamon added, their blood sugar levels dropped by 25 percent during the following two hours.
Other studies have shown that cinnamon stimulates insulin receptors while inhibiting an enzyme that turns receptors off, resulting in a significant increase in cells’ ability to use glucose.
High cholesterol: A clinical trial of patients with Type 2 diabetes found that consuming up to 6 grams of cinnamon daily reduced triglycerides by up to 30 percent, LDL (bad) cholesterol by up to 27 percent, and total cholesterol by up to 26 percent. A study from Penn State University found that adding spices, such as cinnamon, to a high-fat meal reduced the body’s negative responses to such meals by about 30 percent when compared to a similar meal without spices.
Brain damage: Researchers from Tel Aviv University found that an extract in cinnamon bark called CEppt inhibits the development of Alzheimer’s disease. A study presented at a meeting of the Association for Chemoreception found that simply smelling cinnamon boosted several areas in the brain involved in everything from memory to attention and focus. A study by scientists at the Agricultural Research Service found that cinnamon extract might protect brain cells after stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Multiple sclerosis: Various studies have shown that sodium benzoate, a component of cinnamon, can lower clinical symptoms by more than 70 percent by tamping down pro-inflammatory molecules in brain cells. In animal models, according to studies published in the Journal of Immunology, sodium benzoate mixed into drinking water completely inhibited MS. Researchers at Rush University found that cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties that appear to inhibit the autoimmune reactions that attack and destroy the myelin sheath that protects nerve cells.
What kind of cinnamon is good, you ask.
Cassia cinnamon is the variety you are most likely to encounter in a grocery store. But cassia can contain high levels of coumarin, a naturally occurring ingredient that, when eaten in large enough amounts, can cause reversible liver toxicity in a small group of individuals sensitive to it.
How much cassia is too much? For an adult who is sensitive to coumarin, the limit is about a teaspoon a day, according to the daily tolerable intake set by the European Food Safety Authority.
So if you’re a cinnamon lover and your goal is to increase your daily intake, using Ceylon cinnamon can reduce the risk of consuming too much coumarin.
Another option: cinnamon capsules. In many of the studies evaluating the benefits of cinnamon, researchers have used cinnamon supplements.
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