Did you know about the benefits of cinnamon? Aside from its long history of sweetening up breakfasts, cinnamon, which is derived from tree bark, has been used for medical purpose for thousands of years. Today alternative medicine continues researching ways to use this potent spice for numerous ailments ranging from bacterial infections to HIV.  In recent medical news, many articles have been written about the spice also helping with sugar levels and recommending that diabetics and pre-diabetics take this spice which can help the liver deal with insulin better.  While health experts say go ahead and enjoy a sprinkle of it on your oatmeal in the morning, do not expect it to help you manage your diabetes. “It’s not yet clear if cinnamon is good for diabetes,” wrote Michael Dansinger, MD in an article for WebMD. “Research findings have been mixed, and the American Diabetes Association dismisses cinnamon’s use in diabetes treatment.”

Read Related: Spice Trails: The Fundamentals of Latin Cuisine

Also be warned that cinnamon is perfectly fine in dabs and sprinkles, but that high doses can be dangerous (the Danish cinnamon roll may be banned in Europe!).  A daily teaspoon of Coumarin (which is found in Cassia Cinnamon, the cheaper, spice rack kind found in supermarkets) consumed daily over extended periods can damage your liver. Coumarin can also have a blood-thinning effect. So opt for
Ceylon Cinnamon instead, the good variety that’s harder to find and that has next to no Coumarin in it. And if you followed the not very intelligent “Cinnamon Challenge” on the Internet (the challenge was to film oneself swallowing a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under 60 seconds without drinking anything) you probably read about the risk of choking, pneumonia and even lung collapse for doing so. In the meantime, here are 10 more surprising benefits of cinnamon.

1. A Cure-All Spice in Chinese Medicine
Do you suffer from cold feet? In traditional Chinese medicine, Cassia cinnamon is used to warm up your tootsies as well as rid you of colds, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, and painful menstrual periods. It’s also believed to improve energy and circulation.


2. Anti-Viral
When workers in a cinnamon factory in Spain seemed immune to an influenza break in 1918, scientific researchers took notice. Today, there are powerful cinnamon extracts which may protect against modern viruses like the Avian flu and HIV.

3. Its Smell is Good for the Brain
Research shows that just smelling cinnamon enhances cognitive processing and cinnamon has been shown to improve scores on tasks related to attention, memory and visual-motor speed.


4. Nutritional Benefits
Move over bran flakes, did you know that there’s 1.4 grams of fiber in one teaspoon of ground cinnamon?  It also contains calcium and iron.

5. Reduces blood sugar
Trying to watch your weight? Research has found that one teaspoon of cinnamon with your food can help reduce blood sugar levels, which is great for weight loss.


6. Repels Bad Bacteria
Cinnamon has the ability to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, molds and yeasts. In a 2003 study, broth with cinnamon oil was resistant to food-borne pathogenic Bacillus cereus. In another study, researchers discovered that cinnamon eliminates E. coli in unpasteurized apple cider!

7. Metabolism Aid
A number of studies have shown that cinnamon can aid in metabolizing certain kinds of food, as well as aids in digestion, and can even help regulate blood sugar levels for some people with type 2 diabetes.


8. Helps with Headaches
Can’t get hold of an aspirin? Head to the spice rack. Cinnamon has been found to be an effective natural remedy for eliminating headaches and migraine relief.

9. Your Heart will Heart Cinnamon
Penn State  researchers found that diets rich in spices, like cinnamon, help curb the negative effects of fatty meals. Blood samples drawn after meals revealed that in addition to 13% higher blood antioxidant levels, the spices reduced triglycerides by about 30%.