touted as a health food by raw food enthusiasts, but is there
any evidence to support this?
Heated or not, cinnamon is at best mildly irritating to the body, and
doesn't have a place in the diet of anyone seeking to consume only the
healthiest of foods.
Raw Cinnamon: What Is It?
Rip off the outer bark of the cinnamon tree, then beat the branches
with a hammer to loosen the inner bark. This inner bark - what we
traditionally think of as cinnamon - can then be ripped off in small
rolls, and must immediately be dried to prevent decay.
Once ground up, the mixture becomes recognizable as cinnamon, which
achieved widespread fame in the west millenia ago when small amounts
of it started arriving in the Mediterranean basin from Asia. To boost
the price of cinnamon, traders told the locals many stories about the
spice, including that it was brought by birds from a far off land, and
that fisherman harvested it from the sea.
Since then it has become a staple of many recipes, used for incense,
and as part of food pickling and corpse mummification.
Raw Cinnamon: Can It Improve Your Health?
Those who suggest that cinnamon can heal the body make a
mistake. Only the body can heal itself. Medicine, whether it be a spice
or the newest drug, can poison or stimulate the body and cause it to
stop producing a symptom, but it cannot heal. Only the body can heal
itself. The best foods are the ones that are easy to digest, full of
nutrients, bring a
minimal toxic load.
An examination of cinnamon shows that is is an
substance like many other condiments touted by raw foodists, such as salt.
Because different types of cinnamon contain varying
amounts of the toxic compound coumarin, which can cause liver and
kidney damage, cinnamon can be considered mildly dangerous.
One teaspoon of cinnamon powder contains 5.8 to 12.1 mg
of courmarin, which is considered above the tolerable daily intake for
smaller individuals (1).
Raw Cinnamon: If It Can
Kill Mosquitos, Bacteria, and Drive Away Cats and Dogs, What Will It Do
Cinnamaldehyde, which makes up about 90 percent of the oil of cinnamon
bark, produces cinnamon's distinctive flavor and smell. It has long
been known for its ability to kill and repel a large number of animals
and insects, and so has been used as a pesticide.
Dogs and cats won't go near the stuff, for instance, and, many types of
bacteria - harmful and helpful - cannot survive in its presence (2). Do
you really want to consume something that's harmful to many living
Scientists studying its use as part of Big Red chewing
gum found that it kills bacteria in the mouth. Those chewing the gum
for 20 minutes had their concentration of anaerobic bacteria in the
saliva reduced by 50 percent, and their concentrations of anaerobic
bacteria on the tongue reduced by 43 percent (3).
Now this is inevitably touted as a benefit by the chewing gum reps, but
bacteria play many critical roles in our bodies and in the web of life
as a whole, and its slapdash destruction can hardly be called
universally beneficial. At best we are tampering with something we
don't fully understand.
Cinnamaldehyde also has the ability kill mosquito larvae (4), with many
noting the possibility of its ability to kill many other small life
Raw Cinnamon: Tannin Content
Raw cinnamon is also among the many spices that contain tannins (5),
the astringent, mouth-puckeringly-bitter plant compounds that bind or
shrink proteins and various other organic compounds, including amino
acids and alkaloids.
Tannins are what cause the dry, strange feeling in your mouth when you
eat unripe fruit, especially unripe persimmons.
Intake of tannin-containing foods is generally recognized as being
harmful and has been linked to increased risk of cancer, among other
Plants produce tannins to deter predators, and many animals who eat
tannin-containing foods fall ill or die (7), although some have evolved
with the ability to handle large amounts, such as squirrels and mule
Raw Cinnamon: Another View
A great many creatures steer clear of cinnamon because they know it
won't do them any favors. You won't have to worry that fruit, the
mainstay of a healthy
diet, will kill off the bacteria in your mouth or put an
excessive strain on your liver and kidneys.
Those who insist on eating subpar foods have to contend with the fact
that they often contain natural pesticides designed to deter predators,
like them. Apples don't fight back because the apple tree creates them
so creatures will take them and spread the seeds, a symbiotic
The cinnamon tree doesn't want to have its trunk damaged, however, and
tries to harm the creatures that consume it to the greatest extent
possible through chemical retaliation.
Cinnamon is unlikely to kill you, but why eat a food that isn't doing
you any favors?
(1) High daily
intakes of cinnamon: Health risk cannot be ruled out.
BfR Health Assessment No. 044/2006, 18 August 2006
http://www.bfr.bund.de/cm/245/high_daily_intakes_of_cinnamon_health_risk_cannot_be_ruled_out.pdf (2) "Cinnamaldehyde
Use". PAN Pesticides Database.
http://www.pesticideinfo.org/Detail_ChemUse.jsp?Rec_Id=PC33596. (3) "Popular
Chewing Gum Eliminates Bacteria That Cause Bad Breath". Science Daily.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040401080031.htm. (4) "Cinnamon oil
shows promise as a great-smelling, environmentally friendly pesticide,
with the ability to kill mosquito larvae". ScienceDaily.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040716081706.htm (5) Navia,
Jeanette. “Could Tannins Explain Classic Migraine Triggers?” 1988 (6) Elvin-Lewis,
Memory P. F.; Lewis, Walter Hepworth (1977). Medical botany: plants
affecting man's health. New York: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-53320-3. (7) Katie E.
Ferrell; Thorington, Richard W. (2006). Squirrels: the animal answer
guide. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 91. ISBN
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