My last report about ginger led me to discover proven anti-oxidant effects of another spice, cinnamon. I love this tasty spice. Now let’s consider the science supporting cinnamon’s antioxidant power for multiple health conditions.
Spices with high antioxidant capacity
Let me start by giving you a comparison of the antioxidant strength of common herbs. This was actually studiedand direct measurements of phenolic contents and antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts were compared. Many these spices were found to contain high antioxidant capacity.
The spices with the highest antioxidant capacity of those studied were:
clove in the Myrtaceae (myrtle) family which also includes guava, allspice and eucalyptus
oregano in the Labiatae family which includes mint, deadnettle, and the herbs basil, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, hyssop, thyme, and lavender; and
cinnamon in the Lauraceae (laurel) family
These natural antioxidants are potential sources for commercial exploitation. Let’s look closer at cinnamon.
Cinnamon for blood sugar control
We know that cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols. 
How does this translate into health and healing? Let me give you a few examples.
In one study, researchers tested cinnamon supplementation in diabetic rats. They measured their body weight, glucose, insulin, liver glycogen, glycosylated hemoglobin (HgbA1C), total cholesterol, triglycerides and antioxidants (such as glutathione) and compared them against a diabetic control group.
After 28 days, the diabetic rats given the cinnamon extract (Cinnamomum tamala) showed significantly decrease blood glucose, HgbA1C, and total cholesterol compared to controls. In fact, cinnamon supplementation had antidiabetic effects comparable to glyburide, a prescription medication commonly prescribed for diabetes in humans. You should be aware that glyburide may also come with up to 47 adverse side-effects.
What’s more, they found the diabetic rat subjects had significant measurable antioxidant activity (decreased malondialdehyde and increased electrically reduced glutathione). In summary, cinnamon extract proved to have significant antidiabetic, hypolipidemic, and antioxidant activity.
In humans we see similar beneficial effects of cinnamon. For example, in a small (30 men, 30 women) placebo-controlled study in type 2 diabetes, subjects consumed 1, 3 or 6 grams of cinnamon daily for 40 days. All three levels of cinnamon reduced fasting blood glucose (18-29%), triglycerides (23-30%), LDL-cholesterol (7-27%), and total cholesterol (12-26%), and there were no significant changes among those in the placebo.
Cinnamon curtails Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by progressive loss of the structure or function of brain cells. Alzheimer's and Parkinson's are the two most common types of neurodegenerative diseases today.
We have known for years that cinnamon can protect us from developing neuroinflammation, and more recently cinnamon extract was shown to significantly reduce already diseased nerve cells in vitro (the lab). Cinnamaldehyde was the most potent of the active cinnamon compounds.
Furthermore, two compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup of the tau protein in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease.  
In a study in mice with Parkinson's disease cinnamon was found to protect neurons, normalize neurotransmitter levels and improve motor function.
Extensive research from 2000 to 2011 indicates that supplementation with spices such as turmeric, red pepper, black pepper, licorice, clove, ginger, garlic, coriander, and cinnamon are proven to target inflammatory pathways, and shown to prevent neurodegenerative diseases. But when it comes to studies on cinnamon in people with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, I am a bit baffled as to why scientific publications continue to tell us we need well-designed studies on cinnamon and other spices in neurodegenerative diseases to be done in humans.
For example, a 2013 review of 734 articles in the scientific literature on cinnamon extract reported “minimal toxic and adverse effects” along with the following benefits:
anti-microbial and anti-parasitic activity
lowering of blood glucose, blood pressure and serum cholesterol
anti-oxidant and free-radical scavenging properties
inhibition of tau aggregation (hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease)
inhibitory effects on osteoclastogenesis (osteoporosis)
anti-secretagogue and anti-gastric ulcer effects
anti-nociceptive (pain) and anti-inflammatory activity
wound healing properties, and
liver protective effects
They (annoyingly) conclude, “However, since data on humans are sparse, randomized controlled trials in humans will be necessary to determine whether these effects have public health implications.”
Meanwhile, my Harvard colleagues poo-poo cinnamon. They have posted an editorial with a picture of cinnamon rolls (inflammatory food, very poor example of cinnamon supplementation) entitled, “Can cinnamon be used to treat Parkinson’s disease? Probably not.” They state, “…scientists and doctors have already been trying it [studying cinnamon supplementation in humans with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s] for decades – unfortunately, largely to no avail.” Is that really true? I cannot find any evidence of that claim.
Authors even as recent as 2017 conclude, “Spices…may provide more than just flavors, but as agents that may prevent or even halt neurodegenerative processes associated with aging.”
Cinnamon fights cancer
Many studies are proving the anti-cancer effects of cinnamon   including in leukemia  and colon cancer--just not yet in humans.
With all the proven health effects of medicinal spices (one of the foremost being cinnamon), we don’t need to wait around for human studies. You never know who is behind the study and what their motives are.
To healing from medicinal spices and feeling good,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
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