Natural nootropics: Health Benefits of Ceylon Cinnamon

cinnamon nootropic health fitness

This post first appeared on my Biofit website Journal page here.

You probably have a jar of cinnamon hidden on your spice rack - it goes nicely on a bowl of oatmeal and banana, right?

How long it has been sitting there and whether it is the Ceylon or Cassia variety makes all the difference to its potential health benefits however, so read on to find out how to do cinnamon right.

what exactly is ceylon cinnamon?

Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of the evergreen Cinnamomum tree, which is native to tropical climates in southern India and Sri Lanka.[1]  

First, growers remove the outer layers, then they shave inner bark into curled scrolls; after drying, the scrolls can either be processed into a powder or left as they are.

Ceylon cinnamon, or Cinnamomum zeylanicum, is one of two main varieties of Cinnamomum tree. Be sure not to confuse Ceylon cinnamon with the cheaper, mass market Cinnamon cassia however - the latter contains a toxic compound called coumarin [2]. Avoid it and splash some cash on the upgrade.

how does ceylon cinnamon work?

Ceylon cinnamon bark contains several biologically active essential oils, notably cinnamaldehyde, eugenol and linalool.[2]  It’s also an antioxidant, meaning it can help protect cells from damage by scavenging reactive oxygen species.[3]

ceylon cinnamon for blood glucose

Researchers are also interested in cinnamon as a potential treatment for diabetes, thus we have several clinical trials on the subject. 

One four-month, double-blind study looked at the effects of a 3 g daily cinnamon powder supplement on 79 individuals with type II diabetes. The group taking the cinnamon supplement experienced a drop in fasting blood glucose above and beyond that of the placebo group (10.3% vs 3.4%).[4]

It seems that cinnamon achieves this by reducing absorption of glucose from the intestines after a meal, as well as increasing uptake into the cells and enhancing insulin activity.[2]

cognitive performance

Interestingly, strong correlations between Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s patients suggest additional benefits in cinnamon’s blood sugar reducing properties.

Separate studies have shown that Ceylon cinnamon consumption can improve cognitive function, which is where its newfound natural nootropic status comes from (9).

antimicrobial properties

Traditional natural health practitioners have been using cinnamon bark as an antiseptic agent for centuries, now modern science can back it up - cinnamaldehyde and eugenol have potent antimicrobial effects against a long list of germs, including Escherichia coli, Haemophilus influenzae, Salmonella choleraesuis, and Streptococcus pneumoniae.[5]

Furthermore, a pilot study in HIV patients observed noticeable improvements in oral candidiasis (thrush) upon taking eight cinnamon lozenges daily.[6]