The Kitchen and Beyond: 20 Great Ways to Use Cinnamon
By Aylin Erman, EcoSalon
Cinnamon steps out of its fragrant box.
Nothing reminds us of the holidays quite like cinnamon does. But why restrict the aroma to Christmas cookies and wreath decorations? Cinnamon is one of the world’s oldest-known spices and is regarded to have healing properties by many cultures. Many of its benefits derive from the spice’s anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant prowess.
Cinnamon is no joke – it’s quite potent and can take your health to the next level. Whether you smell it, ingest it, or apply it, the benefits are very real and more than skin deep. Try to incorporate it into your everyday routine to reap the most benefits. Not sure where to start? Follow one of the following 20 tips to get you going.
Brain Power Booster
It was found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory. Carry a cinnamon stick around with you, and take a whiff every so often to keep you focused at work or school. Or, add a few dashes of cinnamon to your morning coffee or cereal to get your day off to a more focused and alert start.
Take a few drops of essential oil of cinnamon and sprinkle them atop dry potpourri. Place the potpourri in a small bowl and station it somewhere that gets good ventilation so that the aroma can spread – in the kitchen, near doorways, or atop the radiator. The room will carry with it a subtle hint of cinnamon that will offer you some year-round comfort.
In a Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center study conducted over 40 days on a group of diabetic patients, each of whom were given one-quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon daily, researchers observed that their triglycerides, cholesterol, and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels dropped.
Cinnamon is used to treat pain because it reacts with the hormone-like substance prostaglandin, which contributes to the contraction and relaxation of muscles.
Break 3-4 cinnamon sticks and combine them with 1/2 cup of whole cloves and 1/2 cup whole black peppercorns. Fill sachets with 1 tablespoon of the mixture and toss the sachets in your underwear drawer or hang them in your closets to ward off pesky moths.
In the same Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center conducted a study on diabetic patients, whom were each given one-quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon over 40 days, researchers observed that patients’ blood sugar levels fell as much as 30 percent. In another study, published by Fertility and Sterility in 2007, researchers gave half of the participants cinnamon extract and the other half a placebo. Over an 8-week period, the women who took the cinnamon extract showed greatly reduced insulin resistance compared to the placebo group.
Because of cinnamon’s effectiveness in reducing insulin resistance – research by the Human Nutrition Center at Tufts reports that cinnamon triples insulin’s capacity to metabolize blood sugar – the spice can thus reduce hunger and sugar cravings, which leads to weight loss. Especially for those living with diabetes and find it hard to lose weight, cinnamon is a welcome tool.
Cinnamon has been used for centuries to help women with heavy menstrual bleeding, whether it be due to endometriosis, uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, or primary menorrhagia as well as a result of childbirth, miscarriage, or any other fertility condition.
Cinnamon is commonly used to thin blood, which in turn increases circulation throughout the body. This not only helps to reduce pain in troubled areas but promises that oxygen is being supplied to the blood cells. Cinnamon is also a great dietary complement for heart attack survivors.
Arthritis Pain Reducer
In a 2008 study published in the journal, Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, researchers discovered that cinnamon slowed down the breaking down of bones and ultimately reduced bone damage.
Due to its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial qualities as well as its antioxidant power, cinnamon is effective in treating acne and skin blemishes. Mix 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon with 3 tablespoons of honey, apply to the skin, and let the mixture sit for a few hours or overnight. Wash off with warm water.
Given its fresh and fragrant aroma, cinnamon is commonly used to fight bad breath. You can either chew on small pieces of cinnamon bark or gargle cinnamon water to prepare for a hot date or cleanse the palette.
Light Bulb Diffuser
Here’s a creative, no-fuss way to bring the cinnamon scent to a room. Simply put one drop of essential oil of cinnamon on a cool light bulb. When you turn the lights on, the heat from the bulb will emanate the aroma throughout the room.
Urinary tract infections and bladder infection can be avoided with the consumption of cinnamon, which packs an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal punch. Cinnamon is also a diuretic and contributes to urinary discharge.
Cinnamon helps to break down fats during digestion. The spice contains volatile oil, which is the main player in this process. Add a bit of cinnamon to a heavy dish and you will be doing your body a favor. If the spice doesn’t complement the dish, a half an hour prior to eating, sip on tea water spiced with a few dashes of cinnamon and a teaspoon of honey. The concoction will sooth your digestive system and get it ready for what’s to come.
Insect Bite Treatment
A mixture of cinnamon and honey applied to a skin irritation will help to alleviate the pain and itching. The duo will disinfect the infected area and moisturize and heal it. No need to layer on the dangerous chemicals when you have this natural remedy!
Cold and Flu Reliever
Cinnamon is commonly used across East Asia and Europe as a warming herb for conditions involving the body to become cold. In these cases, cinnamon is combined with ginger to treat a cold or flu.
A combination of honey and cinnamon is known to help relieve stomachache. The pair – which are packed with anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties – not only treats ulcers but also reduces gas in the stomach.
If you add cinnamon to any recipe, it actually helps to prevent the spoiling of the food by delaying bacterial growth.
Yeast Infection Fighter
Cinnamon can be used to stop medication-resistant yeast infections. High blood sugar levels can lead to candida overgrowth, and cinnamon is helpful in lowering blood sugar levels. Cinnamon’s anti-fungal properties are also helpful in combating the effects of a yeast infection. So if the meds aren’t working, try adding extra cinnamon to your diet.
*Precautions: For those of you who are pregnant or lactating, refrain from using medicinal doses of cinnamon or cinnamon bark. Cinnamon tea should also be avoided by those suffering from ulcers. Essential oil of cinnamon is toxic when consumed beyond a certain amount and is best used topically or on external objects for aroma purposes. And be careful when it comes to applying cinnamon to the skin – some people are sensitive to it. Test a small section of skin prior to any treatment.
Aylin Erman currently resides in Istanbul and is creator of plant-based recipe website GlowKitchen.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock