"We were looking at the effects of common foods on blood sugar; one was the American favorite, apple pie, which is usually spiced with cinnamon. We expected it to be bad. But it helped," he says.
The active ingredient in cinnamon turned out to be a water-soluble polyphenol compound called MHCP. In test tube experiments, MHCP mimics insulin, activates its receptor, and works synergistically with insulin in cells.
To see if it would work in people, Alam Khan, who was a postdoctoral fellow in Anderson's lab, organized a study in Pakistan. Volunteers with Type 2 diabetes were given one, three or six grams of cinnamon powder a day, in capsules after meals.
Research led by Dr. P. Zoladz and presented April 24, 2004, at the annual meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences, in Sarasota, FL, found that chewing cinnamon flavored gum or just smelling cinnamon enhanced study participants' cognitive processing. Specifically, cinnamon improved participants' scores on attention related processes, virtual recognition memory, working memory, and visual-motor speed while working on a computer-based program.
In addition to the active components in its essential oils and its nutrient composition, cinnamon has also been valued in energy-based medical system, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), for its warming qualities. In these traditions, cinnamon has been used to provide relief when faced with the onset of a cold or flu, especially when mixed in tea with some fresh ginger.
Since publishing this page I have been contacted and reminded the Cinnamon is also known for its ability to regulate menstrual flow in women. I also received a comment that excessive amounts of Cinnamon can be toxic, but I didn't receive any supporting evidence as to how much. If anyone has such information, please let me know. But taken in amounts suggested, I would think all will be fine. Too much of anything is generally not a good thing.
TIP: Simmer a few cinnamon sticks in water while your kids are doing their homework - this will also serve as wonderful yet non-toxic air freshener for your home as well as enhance cognitive processing.