Research on Cinnamon Supports its Positive Effect on Metabolism

Node Smith, ND

Cinnamaldehyde aids in the Burning of fat in Humans

Recent research has found that cinnamaldehyde, a constituent in cinnamon, is able to aid in the burning of fat in humans.1 Cinnamon, a favorite holiday spice, has been used in traditional herbal medicine to enhance metabolism, regulate blood sugar, and lower inflammation (for thousands of years). It has also been used as a powerful styptic (able to stop bleeding). Cinnamaldehyde, is a part of the essential oil of cinnamon that gives it its unique flavor and smell. In the laboratory studies, cinnamaldehyde has been shown to protect against obesity in mice.

Researchers Concluded the Essential Oil of Cinnamon Activates Thermogenesis

The current study, from the University of Michigan, reports that these same effects are seen in humans. The researchers concluded that the essential oil of cinnamon is able to activate thermogenesis, meaning that it increases metabolism in the body to burn fat and create heat. The cinnamon essential oil was found to enhance certain genes in the adipocytes (fat cells) leading to increased breakdown of fat. In addition to this metabolic effect, cinnamaldehyde is also thought to be a COX inhibitor which can help decrease inflammation.

Cinnamon is Commonly used to help Regulate Blood Sugar

Cinnamon is commonly used to help regulate blood sugar, it seems to mimic insulin2 and help increase insulin sensitivity. Cinnamon is also used for its smooth muscle relaxing effects in conditions like hypertension and bronchial spasm. It has a warming effect, and can be used as a carminative – it is soothing to the intestinal tract, and is often used with purgatives. It shouldn’t be forgotten that the essential oil of cinnamon is also antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral (as are many essential oils). The tannins in cinnamon give it astringent properties which can be useful in the treatment of diarrhea and hemorrhage.

Cinnamon makes a Great Addition to an Herbal Formula

Perhaps not used as a single herbal remedy very often, cinnamon makes a great addition to an herbal formula. It is also an easy spice to add to the diet, in oatmeal, baking, curries, teas. And the essential oil is also readily available and easy to use.                                                                                            

  1. Jiang J, Emont MP, Jun H, et al. Cinnamaldehyde induces fat cell-autonomous thermogenesis and metabolic reprogramming. Metab Clin Exp. 2017;77:58-64.
  2. Jarvill-taylor KJ, Anderson RA, Graves DJ. A hydroxychalcone derived from cinnamon functions as a mimetic for insulin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001;20(4):327-36.
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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