Integrative Nutrition Blog

Insights on Autoimmune Health and Inflammatory Conditions

Cinnamon & Inflammation

Oct 25, 2023 | All

The fall season always makes me think of cinnamon. It’s a warming spice that comes from the bark of cinnamon trees. It has been used for thousands of years for cooking and medicinal purposes. This spice is also a great tool for reducing inflammation and protecting your body from oxidative stress. Today I’m covering a few of the health benefits of cinnamon and how you can use it in your daily eating routine.

What is Cinnamon?

It is a spice that’s derived from the bark of cinnamon trees. When it is first harvested, it has a light brown color that darkens as it dries. You can find cinnamon in a stick form which is just the bark rolled into a cylinder. Or you can use it in the powdered form. There are many different varieties.
  • Cassia or Chinese cinnamon, is usually more affordable but contains high levels of coumarin and may be harmful in large doses.
  • Ceylon cinnamon is also called “true” or “Mexican” cinnamon and is native to Sri Lanka and Southern India.
  • Korintje cinnamon is most popular in North America and is a very versatile.

Benefits of Cinnamon

This spice has a number of health benefits that include:
Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Agent
When it comes to autoimmune diseases, our goal is focused on inflammation reduction. There are a few key blood test markers for inflammation, including c-reactive protein (CRP) and malondialdehyde (MDA). CRP is used widespread for many chronic inflammatory and cardiovascular conditions, while MDA is used as a general marker for oxidative stress. A 2020 review found that cinnamon supplementation significantly reduced CRP and MDA levels.

This spice also interferes with inflammatory processes in our bodies that lead to inflammation. In one study, it reduced the amount of nitric oxide and TNF-alpha production, both of which are inflammatory agents. In another study, it lowered levels of IL-8 and also positively influenced other compounds that don’t generally have anti-inflammatory properties.

Protects Your Heart

This spice has also been widely studied for its impact on heart disease. Conventional medicine initially screens for heart disease risk through standard blood lipid panels that include cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides and HDL. Although we’ve learned over the years that these markers don’t always show us the big picture, they are a great initial screening tool.

In a number of studies, it has helped to lower the riskier lipid markers. In a review of randomized controlled trials, cinnamon helped reduce triglycerides and total cholesterol, while raising HDL (which is the good cholesterol marker). Heart disease is important among the autoimmune community because some autoimmune diseases increase the risk of developing heart disease.
May Improve Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is the hallmark sign of type 2 diabetes. This causes abnormally high blood sugar and can be very inflammatory. Controlling blood sugar and lowering circulating insulin levels is one way to lower inflammation. In a 2018 randomized control trial, cinnamon capsules taken over 12 weeks significantly reduced fasting insulin and lowered LDL levels.

Cinnamon can also lower blood sugar. In another 2018 review, multiple studies found that it was effective in lowering both fasting blood glucose and A1c, which is a 3-month average marker of blood sugar levels.

How to Use Cinnamon

This spice can be used in a variety of dishes, although most people think to use it with baked goods. Savory dishes do well with Ceylon cinnamon. It pairs well with tomato or rice dishes. I love putting it in my paleo chili and curries.
Cassia or Chinese cinnamon is better for sweeter dishes and baked goods. You can sprinkle it on oatmeal or use it in cookies or muffins. Here are some other ways to enjoy :

  • Sprinkle it on sweet potatoes
  • Add it to hot chocolate (or hot carob drink)
  • Top grapefruit with cinnamon and coconut sugar
  • Mash it into pureed butternut squash
  • Sprinkle onto sliced apples and eat raw or baked
  • Add it to smoothies

Cinnamon can be a great addition to any anti-inflammatory eating plan. If you need help incorporating this spice into your diet, or want to make positive changes to your eating habits, please contact me for a free call. In addition, for more helpful tips and content, follow me on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

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