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5 Health Benefits of Cinnamon—Ceylon and Cassia : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Wednesday Aug 1, 2012 | BY |
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Cassia or Ceylon? Studies show benefits from both, but your taste buds may prefer Ceylon.

Isn’t cinnamon, cinnamon? Not for those “in the know.” Turns out that there are several types of the well-known spice, but the two most common are “cassia” and “ceylon.”

What’s the difference? Actually, quite a bit. In fact, the two aren’t even from the same plant. Health benefits are similar for both, but there are some important differences. Either way, however, cinnamon is good for you, and a great ingredient to use more often in your daily diet.

The Difference Between the Two
Ceylon cinnamin, also called “true cinnamon,” comes from crumbly inner bark of the Cinnamomum zeylanicum tree. It’s light brown, and has a sweet and delicate flavor.

Cassia comes from the Cinnamomum cassia plant, and is also called “Chinese cinnamon.” This type is a darker, redder brown, and has a harsher, more overpowering flavor with less sweetness. Cassia sticks are particularly hardy.

Though both types have been found in studies to have definite health benefits, cassia does have more “coumarin,” which is a natural plant component that can have strong blood-thinning properties and can also lead to liver damage at high levels. The level of coumarin in ceylon is lower, so for individuals concerned about blood-thinning effects, ceylon would be the better choice. In sticks, you can tell the difference by the look of the layers. Cassia is usually a one-piece, thicker and darker bark, where as ceylon is thinner with multiple layers. Be aware that some cinnamon powders do not specify the source—you may want to purchase only those that do.

Health Benefits
Both types of cinnamon have health benefits, including the following.

1. Diabetes. Recent studies have found that cinnamon may help control blood sugar levels. In 2003, for example, Diabetes Care found that people with type 2 diabetes who took 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon reduced their fasting blood glucose levels by 18–29 percent, and also reduced triglycerides by 23–30 percent. It also reduced LDL cholesterol by 7–27 percent, and total cholesterol by 12–26 percent.

2. Alzheimer’s Disease. According to a 2009 study, extracts of Ceylon cinnamon inhibited the formation of the proteins and filaments that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers isolated a certain flavonoid (proanthocyanidin) from the cinnamon and determined it had the majority if the inhibitory properties.

3. Cancer. One animal study found that a particular component in cinnamon impaired the proliferation of cancer cells and slowed tumor growth. A second study published in 2010 also found that cinnamon extracts were directly linked with anti-tumor effects.

4. Anti-inflammatory. A study from South Korea found that compounds from cassia cinnamon had promise as an anti-inflammatory agent, with potential in treating dyspepsia, gastritis, and inflammatory diseases.

5. Anti-microbial. Several studies have indicated that cinnamon has the ability to fight off bacteria. One published in 2007, for example, found that even low concentrations boosted the activity of antibiotic “clindamycin.” Study authors wrote that the results suggested that cinnamon could be used in combination therapy against certain stubborn strains of bacterial infections.

Other Health Benefits?
As far as other health benefits related to cinnamon, such as weight loss, the research is still limited. A scientific analysis published in 2010 reviewed the studies published to date, and concluded that cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antitumor, cardiovascular, cholesterol-lowering, and immunomodulatory effects. It added that animal studies have demonstrated strong blood-sugar-lowering properties, and that cinnamon as an adjunct to the treatment of type 2 diabetes is a “most promising area.”

As to the different types of cinnamon, and which is healthier, we talked about that in an earlier post. Bottom line: there is simply more research on cassia, but that really doesn’t mean anything at this point because we’re lacking studies. Hopefully we’ll have more research as time goes on. For now, realize that Ceylon cinnamon has less coumarin and tastes better. Cassia has some unique compounds that have been studied and may be beneficial to health, but Ceylon, which has been studied less, may or may not have similar compounds as well. Future research may reveal more about both types.

Meanwhile, you don’t have to wait for science to catch up! Cultures around the world have been using mainly Ceylon cinnamon medicinally and as a flavorful spice for thousands of years. You can’t go wrong by adding more to your diet.

Do you use cinnamon regularly in your diet? Which kind do you prefer?

* * *

Photo courtesy Cinnamon Vogue via Flickr.com.

Sources
Christopher M. Cabello, et al., “The Cinnamon-derived Michael Acceptor Cinnamic Aldehyde Impairs Melanoma Cell Proliferation, Invasiveness and Tumor Growth,” Free Radic Biol Med 2009 January 15; 46 (2): 220-231, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2650023/?tool=pmcentrez.

Lee SH, et al., “Inhibitory effect of 2′-hydroxycinnamaldehyde on nitric oxide production through inhibition of NF-kappa B activation in RAW 264.7 cells, Biochem Pharmacol. 2005 Mar 1;69(5):791-9. Epub 2005 Jan 16, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15710356.

Shahverdi AR, et al., “Trans-cinnamaldehyde from Cinnamomum zeylanicum bark essential oil reduces the clindamycin resistance of Clostridium difficile in vitro. J Food Sci. 2007 Jan;72(1):S055-8, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17995898.

Gruenwald J., et al., “Cinnamon and Health,” Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2010 Oct;50(9): 822-34, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20924865.

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.

21 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. Nathan says:

    I greatly prefer the taste of Ceylon cinnamon; in fact I don’t like Cassia at all.

  2. Oleander says:

    I tend to use the coarser, darker variety in curries as whole sticks, but use the celon, crumbled in stir fry, on fruit etc where it becomes part of the meal, rather than just to add flavour.

    I have read very recently,(in the UK) that cinnamon promotes the building of collagen also.

    Has anyone else heard of this?

    Oleander UK

  3. Meghan says:

    I wonder if you could address alkalinizing or acidifying properties of cinnamon? I am fighting cancer with a high-alkaline high-raw diet, but am confused by the many out-and-out-conflicting-informatio alkalinizing food charts out there. Some of them say to NEVER eat cinnamon because it is highly acidifying….but your information shows it to have high anti-tumor properties. I wonder if it is the radiation with which most commercial cinnamon is prepared that would give it the “high acid” rating. What do you think? Any response would be greatly appreciated. The cancer is aggressive, so I’m trying to do the best I can as fast as I can. Thank you for all that you do!

  4. zyxomma says:

    I love both types of cinnamon. I prefer the Ceylon in some foods, the cassia in others. I’ve been on the case of a local herb shop (where I buy my organic cassia and organic Tahitian vanilla bean) to stock Ceylon, and after I ran out this week I was very happy to be able to replace it — they listened to me and are now stocking it!

  5. Rox says:

    What about Cinnamomum burmannii?

  6. dita says:

    I eat pounds of cinnamon, so much that it usually shocks people (as a matter of fact the bowl of food I’m enjoying while typing this is covered with it). I wish I knew what kind my favorite is….I know it’s from Vietnam (certified organic) and it’s the best I’ve had in my life….absolutely wonderful! : )
    Once I find out I’ll try to remember and let you know..
    Love.

  7. Annie says:

    What kind of cinnamon was used in the 1800s in the USA?

  8. Question: If you have been using cinnamon to cure / treat your diabetes, what is your daily dosage and how are you administering it?; what are you taking it with?

    Thanks

  9. gilles says:

    different info..frieng back surgery nevers cut what can he eat to help regenerat nerve endings an scare tissue?

  10. Marlies says:

    David, have you heard of cinnamon essential oil?
    its about 50% stronger then dried bark.
    There are success stories of people using the essential oil metabolic blend of Slim&Sassy internally. Ingredients: Grapefruit, Lemon, Peppermint, Ginger and Cinnamon(zeylanicum)essential oil.
    Coriander essential oil on the bottom of your feet can help too.
    Since essential oils are so concentrated 1 drop goes a long way.

  11. Kitty Wells says:

    Hi Kev, As a total Spice Geek, i was intrigued and looked up levels of compounds in cassis vs. Ceylon. Cinnamaldehyde is one of the major compounds studied for anti-diabetic effects. Cassia has 1,400 – 1,900 ppm while Ceylon is much higher at 6,000 – 30,000 ppm (parts per million)

    Cinnamic acid and cinnamyl alcohol are other compounds studied for diabetes, but there was no listing of the ppm of those.

    I personally use Ceylon cinnamon every day in my elixirs. I love Saigon cinnamon for its intense fragrance and taste in cooking savory dishes — but not often!

  12. Kitty Wells says:

    Marlies — I would be VERY cautious about using essential oils internally. They are very powerful and generally best used topically (diluted) or as aromatherapy

  13. Erik Schou says:

    Hello Kewin.
    Thank you for all your good advises on healthy
    living.
    Please give some indication of the doses of Ciamon witch is needed to give results.
    Thank you,
    Erik

  14. Az says:

    Hey Kev!
    I love using cinnamon but not sure how/where to get some like yours in Australia. Any ideas?

    Cheers

  15. Vicki says:

    Hey Kev,

    We use it every day sprinkled on apples as part
    of our breakfast. I also add it to oatmeal.

    I will make sure that it is ceylon from now on.

    Thank you for all you do…

  16. LynnCS says:

    You say, “You can’t go wrong by adding more cinnamon to your diet.” Somewhere in the article it says it can cause liver damage. Did I read that right? Sad, because I’ve just added your really great ceylon cinnamon to my daily smoothies. Yes, I like it and never really liked a lot of cinnamon before. I’d like to see more data on both sides of the question.

  17. Pat G. says:

    Do you know what type of cinnamon is contained in Good Earth’s deeeelicious tea?

  18. Nancy G says:

    Cinnamon and watermelon Yummmm!!!

  19. kathy says:

    Hi Kevin
    just reading your article on cinnamon. very interesting. I use organic ceylon cinnamon.In fact I use a lot. My husband loves baked apples almost every morning, and I use a lot of cinnamon and stevia as a sweetner. But what concerns me , reading in your article you made mention of could cause liver damage.should I cut back? you see my mother died of liver cancer Feb. this year. when I hear liver damage a red flag goes up.So please give me more info.I would appreciate it.Thanks,
    Kathy

  20. A reader says:

    Isn’t coumarin toxic to the liver and kidneys? Check the wikipedia article on coumarin. I’m under the impression that ceylon cinnamon is healthier because it barely contains any coumarin compared to cassia.

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