Cinnamon isn’t just tasty! It’s also chock full of fabulous health benefits, most of which are even backed by science! From zapping dragon breath to helping you fight off upper respiratory infections, cinnamon has definitely earned its place in both your recipes and your medicine cabinet. Let’s check out a few of the amazing health benefits of cinnamon, shall we?
I’ve also sprinkled in some cinnamon recipe videos (see what I did there) to help you get your daily dose the yummiest way possible!
Top 10 Potential Health Benefits of Cinnamon
This post contains affiliate links. As always, it’s not meant to be taken as medical advice. I’m not your doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. If you have a medical condition or take certain medications, talk to your doctor before trying any natural remedy, including something as simple as cinnamon. I use the words “potential health benefits” because they’re not guaranteed to work for everyone, and because in the US, you’re not allowed to say anything is healthy unless a government agency says you can. 😀 Got it? Good. Moving on!
1. Cinnamon for bad breath
Got a dragon living in your mouth? Break out the cinnamon! Chicago dental scientists have shown that cinnamon oil can kill the bacteria in your mouth that leads to halitosis. There are a few ways to reap the benefits of cinnamon for bad breath. You can:
- Go the easy route and chew cinnamon gum. Just make sure it has real cinnamon and not just some weird fake flavor. You’ll also want to avoid sugared gums because you don’t want to override the health benefits of cinnamon for bad breath by giving yourself cavities!
- Chew on a cinnamon stick. I’m not a fan of this option because it’s just too strong for me!
- Make your own cinnamon mouthwash! It’s super easy. Just boil a few cinnamon sticks (most sources say 5 per cup) in purified hot water, let cool, and store in a mason jar.
2. Controlling your blood sugar with cinnamon
While the scientific jury is still out on whether or not you can use cinnamon for diabetes, there is some evidence that suggests it can help control blood sugar. According to the Mayo Clinic, a 2009 study showed that taking taking a 500-mg cinnamon supplement twice a day over the course of 90 days helped improve hemoglobin A1C levels (the thing they look at to get an overall view of your 3-month average sugar level) in people with type 2 diabetes.
Since there are no reported adverse reactions to using cinnamon supplements responsibly, it’s one of those “can’t hurt to try” things. Cinnamon may interact with certain diabetes medications by lowering your blood sugar to dangerously low levels. As far as I can tell, this is really rare, but that’s why you need to talk to your doctor before trying cinnamon for diabetes.
3. Treating a Yeast Infection
Okay, let me start by saying that you should never, ever put straight-up cinnamon oil on your girly parts. That will be an experience you never forget! A German study found that cinnamon oil is one of three oils that can fight the bacteria that causes a yeast infection. Like most health benefits of cinnamon, you can get results by adding more cinnamon to your diet versus rubbing it all over your body. 😀
If you have a yeast infection on other less-sensitive areas, you can mix a little cinnamon oil into a coconut oil base. Note the word “little,” you don’t need much of this essential oil. Test it out on a tough part of your body, like your knee, elbows, or palm of your hand, before you rub it onto the infected area. DO NOT use on your genitals at all. Please.
4. Treating a UTI
First of all, a UTI is no joke, so if you even suspect that you have one, talk to your doctor. Did you know that many bladder infections are caused by e. coli bacteria? There is some pretty good evidence that cinnamon fights off that bacteria pretty well. While I don’t think that sprinkling some of the spice on your toast is enough to fight off an infection, upping your cinnamon intake may help you recover from a UTI a little faster.
I am actually trying this right now. Without going into TMI, I had kidney stone surgery last week and ended up with a UTI that caused so much pain, I literally begged the universe to just let me pass out. Like I said, a UTI is no joke, and cinnamon alone isn’t going to get rid of it! Still, it’s definitely worth a try to help speed up your recovery!
5. Cinnamon for acne
Add a bit of cinnamon to your favorite face mask to help reduce the inflammation that causes acne. Again, do not use straight oil. I suggest getting a gentle clay face mask, and adding a drop of cinnamon essential oil or a bit of the powdered spice to a single “serving.”
Basically, scoop a bit of the mask into a tiny bowl (like the little bowls you get for your bbq dipping sauce at a restaurant), then add the cinnamon. That lets you control the amount every time. Again, test on a less sensitive area to make sure the cinnamon isn’t too overpowering before you lather it all over your fragile face.
6. Blood pressure
While cinnamon is NOT an alternative to blood pressure medications or your doctor’s recommendations, adding it to your diet may help control mildly high blood pressure. While studies show that it works particularly well in people with diabetes, there is some evidence that it could also help non-diabetics.
You don’t have to go overboard, either. As little as a half a teaspoon a day can be beneficial. In fact, there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing” when it comes to cinnamon. At very high doses, it can be hard on your liver.
7. Colds & the flu
There is no cure for the common cold, but cinnamon can help make it more bearable! When I was a kid, my mommy always made me cinnamon toast when I was sick. Turns out, she wasn’t just making me a yummy treat! Despite the fact that there is pretty much no scientific evidence to suggest that cinnamon for cold & flu actually works, anecdotal evidence says that it does help relieve the coughing that keeps you up all night when you’re sick. Get the most bang for your buck by mixing it with a bit of honey (which is backed by science).
Just add a half teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon (to a few tablespoons, if you’re my son!) of honey to your favorite tea. I’m kidding about the few tablespoons. Sort of. My son does like a little tea with his honey, but he only drinks it occasionally.
8. Cinnamon for headaches
As a lifelong sufferer of chronic headaches, I’m willing to try pretty much anything that may even remotely help. While using cinnamon for headaches doesn’t really help my killer migraines (which may actually be cluster headaches), it does seem to ease up some of my less severe ones.
NDTV Food recommends actually applying a cinnamon paste to your forehead (versus just eating it) to help relieve a headache. Just grind up a cinnamon stick into a powder, then mix with a bit of water to make a paste.
Using cinnamon for nausea may sound counterproductive, since nausea is listed as a side effect of too much cinnamon in about 7% of people. Still, for the other 93%, it may help ease an upset stomach when used in moderation. I suggest adding it to your tea to cope with nausea brought on by indigestion. Cinnamon has an overall calming effect on your tummy.
Using cinnamon for constipation is kind of hit or miss. On the one hand, it’s relatively high in dietary fiber and soothing to your digestive system. On the other hand, too much cinnamon can actually cause constipation! If you want to give it a try, I recommend adding it to tea with a little honey and lemon (both of which are beneficial for relieving constipation).
Keep it in moderation. Cinnamon supplements aren’t a good choice here because they can bind you up. Think “sprinkled on toast” versus “ginormous cinnamon muffin.”
More health benefits of cinnamon
While the above potential health benefits seem to be the most popular, cinnamon is great for other things, too. These include
- Helping to relieve Inflammation.
- Fighting free-radicals.
- Lowering bad cholesterol.
- Supporting healthy teeth and bones.
- Soothing a tooth ache.
- As a homeopathic ADHD remedy.
- Helping to treat Parkinsons.
- Speeding up your metabolism & naturally suppressing appetite to aid in weight loss efforts.
- Treating symptoms of Alzheimer’s
- Fighting off a Salmonella infection
- Helping you “get in the mood” by acting as an aphrodisiac. Bow chicka wow wow, baby!
- Promoting collagen production in your body, which helps keep your skin looking younger.
- Exfoliating your scalp and skin.
- Easing cramps and PMS
- Helping to manage the symptoms of PCOS.
Once again, I feel like I should remind you that cinnamon alone cannot fight diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Nor will sprinkling it on your child’s food eliminate their ADHD. It should be used as part of an overall regimen, and only after talking to your doctor.
What type of cinnamon should you use?
Did you know that there are different types of cinnamon? I didn’t until relatively recently. The two main types are Cassia and Ceylon, and they are NOT created equal.
When it comes to using cinnamon to reap health benefits, Ceylon is the best. Unfortunately, it’s also more expensive and not quite as common. Pretty much all the cinnamon found in your grocery store is Cassia cinnamon.
You know how we talked about using cinnamon in moderation? Well, that’s especially true of Cassia. It has a higher amount of a compound known as coumarin. Sounds very close to coumadin, a drug used to control blood clots. It’s also the active ingredient in rat poison.
Coumarin isn’t the same thing at all, but it’s also used to control blood clots. It’s slightly less terrifying than the rat poison treatment, but it does still have side effects. While you most likely won’t see significant issues from using Cassia cinnamon on your toast daily, if you are prone to certain medical conditions it can be harmful in larger doses. In fact, even if you’re healthy as a horse, too much Cassia cinnamon can still cause issues. How much is too much? Hard to say, as it differs for everyone.
Ceylon cinnamon, aka “true cinnamon,” has much lower concentrations of coumarin than its Cassia cousin. If you want the technical, scientific details on all that, check out this study. Ceylon is sold in health food stores, although you may be able to find it in your grocery store’s spice section. You can also find it on Amazon. Here are two different brands with vastly different prices (one is for a large bag, one for a small container).
In addition to the links throughout the article, I used the following sites for research.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
- PubMed (search for Cinnamon for relevant studies)