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As mentioned in recent blog posts, there’s evidence to show cinnamon’s health promoting effects on blood sugar control, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular health in type 2 diabetes and PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome).(1,2) In fact, in a recent Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (large study that pools together applicable studies for a big picture look), among those with type 2 diabetes, there was found to be a statistically significant decrease in fasting glucose, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), and triglycerides, and an increase in HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) among the cinnamon group. (2) And, as it pertains to PCOS, a recent randomized double blind placebo controlled clinical trial showed, after 12 weeks, a statistical significant decrease in fasting insulin, insulin resistance, and LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) in the cinnamon group, vs. placebo. (1)
But, as you already know from here, there are multiple species of “cinnamon”, which vary in coumarins, the naturally occurring plant compounds, which possess anticoagulant, carcinogenic, and liver-toxic qualities.(3) Research shows that coumarin dietary intake, is mainly due to cassia cinnamon.(4) According to the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, 1 tsp of cassia cinnamon powder would work out to 5.8-12.1mg of coumarin (1kg=2.1-4.4g); that’s above the tolerable daily intake set by the European Food Safety Authority.(4)
Likely due, at least in part, to the predominance of cassia cinnamon within North America, most of the research on cinnamon in type 2 diabetes and PCOS has been done with cassia cinnamon. So, we have quite a bit of research to support the inclusion of cassia cinnamon, for blood sugar control, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular health, but what does the research say specifically about Ceylon cinnamon?
Research is very focused in it’s design to answer specific questions. It’s not intended for deducing assumptions. Although, traditionally “true cinnamon” has been used for the same indications as cassia cinnamon has been studied for, let’s take a look at a systematic review specifically around Ceylon cinnamon.
The research at this point, specifically studying Ceylon cinnamon, contains minimal human studies, most of the research to date is in-vitro or in-vivo in animals….meaning in a Petri dish, or in this case, in mice. (4) That being said, let’s see what it has to say, through this systematic review!
Medicinal properties of ‘true’ cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): A Systematic Review (4)
This particular systematic review was a compilation of 70 studies.
The beneficial health effects of Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) were identified as:
Lowering blood glucose
Lowering blood pressure
Lowering serum cholesterol
Antimicrobial, anti-parasitic activity
Anti-oxidant & free-radical scavenging properties
Inhibition of tau aggregation (Alzheimer’s disease)
Anti-stomach ulcer effects
Very cool, as in botanical medicine, Cinnamon’s actions are: (5)
Hypoglycemic. AKA lowers blood sugar
So, although not unanimous across the board when it comes the research on cinnamon, and despite there only being limited human trials specifically looking at Ceylon cinnamon. Meshing the traditional uses and current understanding from the research. When it comes to cinnamon, especially with cinnamon used in a dietary prescriptions, I choose Ceylon.
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