Should You Be Using This Ancient Botanical Medicine That You Can Find In Your Supermarket?

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February 29, 2016

Should You Be Using This Ancient Botanical Medicine That You Can Find In Your Supermarket?

Cinnamon can deliver some powerful benefits to the body.

What botanical are we talking about? Cinnamon of course, as it's been used as a botanical medicine for over 4,000 years. Many of its healing and health promoting properties are attributed to its essential oils and phytonutrients. The range of health applications and anecdotal applications are broad and range from boosting cognitive function and memory, treating rheumatism, helping with digestion, regulating blood sugar as well as inhibiting bacterial growth. Another fun fact, it actually comes from the inner bark of several varieties of a tropical evergreen tree. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that the polyphenols in cinnamon may also be beneficial for regulating blood sugar. In the body, sugars and starches are broken down by the liver into glucose, which is then released into the blood and used as fuel. Insulin acts as the key to let glucose into cells. According to the research, cinnamon appears to mimic insulin, helping to drive glucose into the cells. This improved insulin response could be helpful for keeping blood sugar levels in check.

Cinnamon also contains the powerful phytonutrient, cinnamaldehyde, which is known for its anti-inflammatory abilities and antimicrobial protection. This particular phytonutrient has been studied for its role in preventing unwanted blood clotting, which ultimately benefits cardiovascular health and is thought to help stop the growth of Candida (yeast) and H. pylori (bacteria associated with ulcers).

Two teaspoons of cinnamon contains 2.5 grams of fiber, 38 percent of the daily recommendation of manganese and 9.6 and 5.6 percent of the daily recommendation of iron and calcium respectively as well as significant amounts of carotenoids. The combination of manganese and calcium promote bone health while iron enhances oxygen distribution thus helping energy levels. One teaspoon of cinnamon contains a similar amount of antioxidants as a cup of pomegranate juice or half cup of blueberries. 

Cinnamon storage and shopping tips:

  • Cinnamon can be found in both powder and as whole cinnamon sticks in the herbs and spices section of your grocery store. Cinnamon powder should smell strong and sweet. 
  • Cinnamon sticks do not have as strong of a scent but can be stored longer than powder. One of the best uses is in boiling hot liquids such as coffee, tea, milk or even hot chocolate.

 

To preserve freshness and nutrients, store both ground and whole cinnamon sticks in a tightly sealed, glass container, in a cool, dark and dry place. Ground cinnamon will keep for about 6 months and whole cinnamon sticks will stay fresh for about 1 year. You can extend the shelf life and flavor of cinnamon sticks by storing them in the refrigerator.