Does taking cinnamon lower cholesterol levels?
A study looking at cinnamon and cholesterol found that cinnamon indeed lowered cholesterol.
The same study found that may help lower blood sugar levels in people who have diabetes. Cinnamon may prove to be an excellent high cholesterol treatment for some. The cinnamon cholesterol connection is very strong.
However, the next studies seemed to say that cinnamon and cholesterol do not have that connection. So, what should we believe?
There is more. A study by the USDA found that the beneficial effects of cinnamon lasted for at least 20 days after people stopped taking it.
Cinnamon and Cholesterol: A Dark Side
If the cinnamon is a powder made from the bark there is a special chemical called coumarin. Coumarin has a toxic effect to the kidneys and liver. This is only a short term risk and evidently they heal once the intake is decreased.
Too Much Cinnamon May Be Unwise
Cinnamon has been tested in doses of 1 gram, 3 grams, and 6 grams per day with no adverse effects. There may be a reason why.
The danger with coumarin is if you take it on its own. A teaspoon of cinnamon contains 28 milligrams of calcium. It also has one milligram each of iron, manganese, fiber, vitamins C, and K.
Vitamin K is the treatment for coumadin overdose.
One study found the optimal amount to use is only one gram or less than a tea spoon a day. Find more about this at the end of this page.
Coumarin has other properties. If it sounds a lot like the anticoagulant Coumadin, that is because it is similar to Coumadin. Warfarin (Coumadin) is a synthetic derivative of coumarin. Coumarin is found in a number of plants including licorice.
How much coumarin does cinnamon contain?
There are basically two types of cinnamon.
Ceylon cinnamon has low levels of coumarin which are considered safe.
Cassia cinnamon has high levels of coumarin and consuming large quantities could be considered harmful to your health.
Beyond Cinnamon and Cholesterol: Other Benefits
To a diabetic, cinnamon acts similar to insulin.
Cinnamon helps the cells be more receptive to the available insulin.
If your reading the writing on the wall, this means that diabetics too need to be careful when consuming cinnamon. Those with Type 2 diabetes should carefully monitor blood sugar when adding cinnamon to the diet. It may intensify the effects of insulin medications. It would be best if you talk to a doctor knowledgeable in complimentary alternative medicine before using cinnamon.
Some studies point to anti-carcinogenic effects of coumarin. In the same studies it was indicated that there is a cause effect connection with our glutathione. Yep, cinnamon helps us make more glutathione.
If you live in Minnesota where the State bird is a mosquito or any other place that they are an annoyance to anyone but our nocturnal bat friends, then this next point is for you.
Cinnamon Better Than DEET
Taiwanese scientists found that cinnamon oil kills mosquito larvae more effectively than DEET, a common pesticide and mosquito repellent.
Coumarin should be avoided by people with perfume allergy. This means there may be some health risks with cinnamon for those faced with such allergies. No literature discusses this so be aware.
Cinnamon extract should pose no health risks as it has no coumarin.
Coumarin seems to have an appetite suppressant property. Since it is in some grasses, it tends to reduce the appetites of animals grazing on it.
And Other Diseases
The U.S. Department of Agriculture study found cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells. (No wonder, it boost glutathione.)
A Copenhagen University study had patients take half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey daily before breakfast. The result, they had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within the month.
When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
One study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.
Finally, in Journal of Drugs and Dermatology, 2008 Jun;7(6):586-7 there is a paper on too much of a good thing.
It was titled: Severe exacerbation of rosacea induced by cinnamon supplements.
It turns out she had an acute exacerbation of her rosacea 2 weeks after self treating with cinnamon oil pills to lower her blood sugar levels.
What does this mean for you? You really need to talk to a doctor who is experienced and knowledgeable on this before you start to self medicate.
You can choose not to see a doctor. Of course we may see you at your local ER if your the one. There is always one, at least every week who self medicates and hurts their health.
Other Benefits Beyond Cinnamon and Cholesterol
Lowers blood pressure
Anti-clotting qualities promote healthy blood
Acts as a natural preservative for food
A great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium
Soothes the stomach while helping with nausea and indigestion
Relieves congestion from colds and allergies
Helps alleviate joint, muscle, and arthritic pain
May prevent tooth decay and gum disease
Eases menstrual cramping
Review Of Cinnamon and Cholesterol Studies
To put this together required looking for and at cinnamon and cholesterol studies. One study looked at just studies.
A 2007 systematic review of scientific literature on cinnamon had some interesting findings.
Using evidence-based practice, 9 electronic databases were searched and compiled.
Pharmacological study on antioxidant activity (1)
Clinical studies on various medical conditions (7) including diabetes (3)
Helicobacter pylori infection (1)
Activation of olfactory cortex of the brain (1)
Oral candidiasis in HIV (1)
Chronic salmonellosis (1)
Two of 3 random clinical trials (type 2 diabetes) had strong scientific evidence that cassia cinnamon (the one with the greater amount of coumarin) reduces fasting blood glucose by 10.3percent - 29 percent. (One was in Pakistan where they are probably not on anti-diabetic drugs where as the US study may have had very different patients.)
Also note another factor about the third clinical study did not observe this effect. (This was not in the study but remember that there is a glutathione relationship. If the subjects were in an area or had diets depleted of the building blocks of glutathione, the study could have been skewed.)
The Cassia cinnamon did not lower the hemoglobin HbA1c.
One of the randomized clinical trial reported that cassia cinnamon lowered total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides.
The other 2 trials (before 2007) did not observe this effect. (The latest study did.)
There was strong evidence that cinnamon was not effective at eradicating H. pylori infection. Cinnamon was not effective in treating oral candidiasis in HIV patients and chronic salmonellosis.
How Much Cinnamon?
There were differences in the effects of the different cinnamon doses at different time points. The most important data in this study: the 3-g/day and 6-g/day doses were no more effective than the 1-g/day dose in reducing blood glucose and blood lipid levels. Thus, it appears that the 1-g/day dose is not only sufficient to achieve the optimal benefits of cinnamon, it may be more than sufficient.
Also triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels fell. It was noted that the volunteers’ levels started rising when they stopped eating cinnamon.
One gram is slightly less than on table spoon a day. Other recommendations are 1/4 table spoon per day and 1/2 table spoon a day.
Beyond Cholesterol and Cinnamon
Beyond the studies, many anecdotal experiences indicate all of the positive benefits noted above. Again, if you are self medicating and especially if you have a health condition, please see a doctor that has experience in and treats with natural products.
There is more on cinnamon and cholesterol yet to come. If we are missing any relationship on cinnamon and cholesterol, please let us know so we can update the information.
Good Health to you.
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