In herbal medicine, the health benefits of cinnamon are numerous and impressive. I’ve written before about how I use a teaspoon of freshly grated varieties in my morning smoothie.
The season determines whether I use Saigon (a type of Cassia) or Ceylon cinnamon. Cassia, for example, is one of the best herbs for seasonal allergies, so I use it during Spring months. It helps ward off sneezing from the extremely heavy oak tree pollen that blankets Central Florida for about 6-8 weeks every year.
However, not all cinnamon is created equal. Store-bought ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks – even organic – are months or even years old at best and irradiated at worst. Old cinnamon is less potent than fresh and irradiating herbs renders them useless from a medicinal point of view.
Using freshly ground is the only way to go, in my opinion. This is especially important if you are using cinnamon for health benefits and not just flavoring recipes.
Cinnamon Improves Blood Sugar Control
Freshly grated cinnamon powder is the most potent form to help with blood sugar control. Blood sugar issues run on both sides of my family. So far, using a teaspoon per day on a regular basis seems to be working to keep my blood sugar Steady Freddy.
At the present time, some research is conflicting regarding the efficacy of using cinnamon for this purpose. A thorough review of 10 randomized clinical trials, however, is extremely positive.
This meta-analysis of 10 randomized trials involving a total of 543 people found that cinnamon doses of 120 mg/day to 6 g/day for 4 to 18 weeks produced a statistically significant reduction in fasting plasma glucose. (1)
Cinnamon and Weight Loss
If cinnamon is beneficial for blood sugar control at least in some individuals, it would be reasonable to wonder if it might help with weight loss efforts as well.
Studies thus far give a reason for optimism. One animal study demonstrated that the addition of cinnamon to the diet improved insulin sensitivity and reduced the accumulation of dangerous visceral white fat. This occurred even in rats being fed a high fructose diet. (2)
Studies on the effects of cinnamon and weight loss on people, however, are currently lacking.
Cinnamon Combined with Raw Honey
A recent bit of unpublished research on cinnamon and weight loss, however, is intriguing. The trial was not randomized but is interesting nonetheless particularly in light of existing research on the beneficial effects of cinnamon on human health.
40 participants from the US and Europe used 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground Saigon cinnamon, a type of Cassia, before bed every night for a period of one month.
The herb was freshly grated into a small amount of hot water to make a cinnamon tea. Then, after the water-cooled for at least 10 minutes, participants stirred 1 tsp of raw unpasteurized honey into the mixture and consumed right before bed (but before brushing teeth). (3)
Study Results: Using Cinnamon for Weight Loss
- 34 of the 40 study participants (85%) lost weight. The range of weight loss was from .5 – 5 lbs over the one month period.
- 26 of the 40 study participants (65%) lost more than 1 lb over the one month period. In almost all cases weight loss was gradual. Impact on waistline was less dramatic, ranging from half an inch to three inches, broadly in line with weight loss.
Other Observed Benefits
- Improved sleep: 1/3 of study participants experienced longer sleep, deeper slumber, dreaming, and waking up feeling refreshed.
- Increased energy levels: (another common observation, perhaps linked to better sleep) and better mental clarity. Since cinnamon is a stimulating herb traditionally used to warm the body, this is an expected observation.
- Reduced sugar cravings. This observation corroborates existing research via randomized trials that demonstrated that Cassia cinnamon consumption improves insulin sensitivity. Study participants consumed Saigon cinnamon, which is the most potent form of Cassia.
- Improved skin – Participants commonly reported brighter and clearer skin. In addition, it served as an eczema remedy in one case and healed urticaria (hives) in another. One other unexplained skin rash disappeared as well.
- Reduced arthritic pain. Early research confirms the benefits of cinnamon for reducing arthritic pain. (4)
- Less menstrual cramping. The potent, bioactive anti-inflammatory compounds in cinnamon may be responsible for this improvement. (5)
- Reduced effects of seasonal allergies, colds and remedy for sore throat. Research demonstrates that Cassia (Saigon) cinnamon, which is what the study participants consumed, reduces seasonal allergy symptoms comparable to the anti-histamine loratadine (Claritin). (6)
The effects of cinnamon on weight loss clearly require more in-depth research. However, meta-analysis of 10 randomized studies indicates its positive effect on insulin control. That combined with this small, encouraging study indicates that at the very least, cinnamon is a tasty and enjoyable addition to a sensible weight loss regimen.
Other Traditionally Minded (or not) Weight Loss Protocols
It’s not necessary to embrace dangerous fad diets to lose weight. There are a number of healthy ways to approach losing weight steadily and safely. Here are a few more ideas for consideration and some to avoid!
Bone Broth Diet: Dr. Kellyann Petrucci ND recommends this 21 day protocol using bone broth as the primary food for putting the body into ketosis combined with intermittent fasting for rapid weight loss.
Coconut Oil and Weight Loss: How to safely and effectively use coconut oil to speed weight loss efforts.
High Fat Low Carb: How to effectively implement this traditional dietary approach for the best results.
Dash Diet: Voted the #1 diet for 8 years on a row. What the glowing reviews aren’t telling you.
Dukan Diet: Favored by Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, before her wedding to Prince William. What to watch out for.