After a study done in 2003, in which the researchers discovered that just 1g of cinnamon per day could lower glucose levels, as well as triglycerides, LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and total cholesterol in individuals with Type II diabetes (Diabetes Care, 2003), many of us are now aware that cinnamon is a useful supplement for combating these conditions in individuals with diabetes or insulin resistance. However, in a follow-up study in 2006, and reported in the Journal Of the American College of Nutrition, a study conducted by Georgetown University reported that cinnamon is effective in reducing elevated blood pressures associated with diabetes. What the researchers also found was that systolic blood pressures were reduced even when not caused by a high sugar diet. It is well known that diabetes, insulin resistance and hypertension are closely linked and often found together in the same individual. Thus, cinnamon may be effective in fighting these conditions together. The researchers discovered that intake at levels as low is less than 1g per day were as likely to be effective as higher doses.
Dr. Richard Anderson, the lead researcher, reported that both whole cinnamon and a water soluble extract were found to be equally effective in managing diabetes and hypertension. "This is the first time we have seen the positive effects of cinnamon on blood pressure levels, a common cofactor of diabetes and one of the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Anderson.
Approximately 1/3 of adults in the United States has been diagnosed with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Although it is a disease frequently associated with ageing, we are beginning to see rising numbers in children as well, pointing to nutritional factors and possibly to the lack of exercise demonstrated by our children today. Often people do not find out about their high blood pressure until they develop problems. High blood pressure is associated with cardiovascular disease, strokes, heart attack, damage to blood vessels throughout the body, kidney abnormalities as well as damage to other parts of the body, especially if left untreated. This is why hypertension is known as the "silent killer."
Approximately 90 to 95 per cent of high blood pressure is known as essential or primary hypertension. Often it appears gradually over time and has no identifiable cause. The other 5 to 10 per cent of those who develop high blood pressure usually have some kind of underlying disease condition. Use of medications such as birth control pills or illegal drugs such as cocaine are also known to cause high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is easy to diagnose through a simple test that your physician will perform in his office. It is usually part of a routine annual physical. A blood pressure cuff can also be purchased in any drugstore for use at home.
How to Use Cinnamon
Cinnamon, which has been in use since about 2700BC, is known to be an exceptional antioxidant. The oil of cinnamon has strong antibacterial and anti fungal properties. Cinnamon is also known to be an excellent source of manganese, fibre, iron and calcium. Cinnamon has been used in home remedies to: reduce blood sugar levels in type II diabetics, lower cholesterol, aid in digestion, treat diarrhoea, fight the common cold, reduce the pain of arthritis, boost memory, treat toothaches and eliminate bad breath as well as cure headaches and migraine pain. It is also been indicated for abdominal pain, Candida, asthma, constipation, dysmenorrhoea, excessive menstruation, parasites and for the treatment of passive internal bleeding.
Although there is some concern that high doses of whole cinnamon or fat soluble extracts may have some toxic effects, amounts of 3 to 6g of cinnamon were found to be safe. This amount is equal to about 1 to 2 tsp taken on a daily basis. Cinnamon supplements are also available over the counter. However, it just as easy to add cinnamon to many of your meals and dishes as well as using a cinnamon stick in your tea in the morning. You can add cinnamon to your orange juice, your morning oatmeal, salads, meats and coffee before brewing as the active components are not destroyed by heat.
Cinnamon has been used throughout the years in many cultures and is, in fact, used throughout the world in many types of cuisines, to create richer flavours. It can be used in yoghurt, smoothies, hot cocoa, sweet potatoes, added to quiches and pies. It can literally be used on almost anything. As little as half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day may significantly reduce blood pressure levels.
Side effects or adverse reactions to cinnamon may include: increased heart rate, flushing, inflammations of the mouth or tongue, gingivitis, anorexia, irritation of the gastrointestinal system, shortness of breath and hypersensitivity.
Tips and Warnings
Although cinnamon is available as pills or capsules, it's always best to use nutritional supplements in your diet as they occur naturally in foods.
Always consult your health care provider before you add any kind of supplement to your blood pressure treatment as some supplements do interact with medications and can cause harmful side effects.
Store cinnamon in a cool dry place away from heat or moisture.
Studies conducted in Europe have shown that the cinnamon derived from one type of plant, known as Cassia, may contain a compound called coumarin. It has been known to cause liver and kidney damage when used in high concentrations. The powdered cinnamon that we purchase at the grocery store is typically derived from this plant, so it is important to avoid consuming high doses of it.
Use caution when using other blood thinning products such as aspirin, as cinnamon also has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.
Avoid taking large doses of cinnamon during pregnancy due to possible adverse effects on the uterus.
Prolonged use is not recommended in persons with intestinal or gastric ulcers.