One of cinnamon’s most intriguing claims is its ability to lower blood pressure. But is there any truth behind this popular belief? And if yes, how does cinnamon lower blood pressure?
Not only does cinnamon add a delicious flavor to your food, but it also comes with potential health benefits.
This article will examine the science behind cinnamon and its effect on blood pressure. Keep reading to learn more about this sweet spice and how it can control your blood pressure!
What is Cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a spice made from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree, of which there are many species. It is used in both sweet and savory dishes and has a warm, sweet flavor.
Cinnamon has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Today, it is thought to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Cinnamon is also believed to boost cognitive function and can regulate blood sugar levels.
Types of Cinnamon
There are two main types of cinnamon: Ceylon and cassia.
Ceylon cinnamon, or “true” cinnamon, is native to Sri Lanka. It is lighter in color and has a sweeter, more delicate flavor than cassia cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is more expensive than cassia and is often used in baking and desserts.
Cassia cinnamon is the most common type sold in the United States. It is darker in color and has a harsher, more astringent flavor than Ceylon cinnamon.
Cassia cinnamon is less expensive than Ceylon and is often used in savory dishes like curries or stews. Cassia cinnamon also contains high levels of coumarin, a compound that acts as a blood thinner.
While cinnamon is generally considered safe, high coumarin content in cassia may cause some side effects when taken in high amounts.
Ceylon has low levels of coumarin, so it’s often considered the healthy type to consume, especially if you plan on using it regularly.
Does Cinnamon Lower Blood Pressure?
In one double-blind controlled trial, patients with type 1 hypertension or high blood pressure taking 1500 mg of cinnamon daily significantly improved their blood pressure levels and lipid profiles after 90 days of use. This clearly shows that cinnamon can indeed lower blood pressure, but how?
1. Cinnamon can lower blood pressure by acting as an ACE inhibitor.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors are a common class of medications used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure.
They work by inhibiting the production of angiotensin II in the body. Angiotensin II is a hormone that circulates in the blood and whose main function is to construct blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure.
As an ACE inhibitor, cinnamon can help relieve tension on the blood vessel wall, which promotes relaxation, causing the blood pressure to fall.
In one study, information on the use of various traditional plants, including garlic, cinnamon, jasmine, caltrop, bilberry, and grape, to lower blood pressure was collected from various sources and databases.
The research confirmed the effects of these plants in inhibiting angiotensin II production, making them potent remedies for high blood pressure.
The researchers, however, suggested that more clinical trials are needed to help determine the exact dosages, side effects, and drug interactions.
2. Cinnamon lowers blood pressure by preventing inflammation
Inflammation is a reaction triggered by the immune system when fighting off invaders such as viruses or bacteria.
While this is beneficial, too much activation of immune responses can cause cell damage leading to various diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.
Chronic inflammation causes blood pressure by damaging the lining of the arteries. This damage leads to cholesterol deposits on the walls in an attempt to repair the damage.
However, with continued inflammation, arterial damage, and cholesterol deposition, a buildup will form, narrowing the arteries.
This makes it difficult for the blood to flow, causing the heart to increase its pumping pressure.
Cinnamon can fight inflammation, which can help improve blood vessel function, thus lowering blood pressure.
One study found that cinnamon could significantly reduce inflammatory markers in the blood, such as C reactive protein, and reduce overall oxidative stress in the body.
3. Cinnamon can break down cholesterol in arteries to improve circulation
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the blood. It’s classified into good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL).
While both forms have roles to play, too much LDL can cause various health issues, including increasing blood pressure levels.
This is because, as mentioned above, LDL can build up within the arteries causing them to become narrow and making it difficult for the blood to flow.
Cinnamon can, however, promote the breakdown of this cholesterol, creating more room within your blood vessels for the blood to flow freely.
In one study, daily consumption of 500mg of cinnamon water extract for two months reduced LDL cholesterol and improved insulin sensitivity in people with elevated blood sugar levels.
In a systemic review of 35 clinical trials, supplementing
with about ¾ teaspoon of cinnamon daily reduced LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels in people with metabolic disorders.
4. Cinnamon can act as a diuretic
A diuretic is any substance that promotes diuresis or increased urine production. It does this by promoting the elimination of water and sodium from the body, both of which can increase your blood pressure levels.
Cinnamon contains mild diuretic effects and can thus help eliminate water and salt from circulation by causing you to urinate a little more than usual. This will ultimately lead to reduced blood pressure.
5. Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that occur naturally in plants and are important in preventing damage from free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules in the body that, when left to accumulate, can damage various body cells, including those lining your blood vessels leading to changes in blood pressure.
Cinnamon is very rich in polyphenol antioxidants, which is also the reason behind the various cinnamon benefits.
6. Cinnamon can improve blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity
Too much sugar in the blood can irritate your blood vessel lining, leading to inflammation and vasoconstriction, thus causing blood pressure to rise. This is especially common in people with diabetes whose blood sugar levels are poorly controlled.
Cinnamon works by improving insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone that helps carry sugar from the blood into the cells for energy.
In the case of conditions like type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance, the cells are resistant to insulin, meaning the glucose can’t get in. This causes an accumulation of glucose in the blood, leading to numerous potential health issues.
Cinnamon can imitate the insulin effect and increase glucose movement from the blood into the cells. This improves blood sugar control, which then prevents the complications associated with it.
In a study, consuming 250mg of cinnamon twice daily improved insulin sensitivity in people with high blood sugar levels.
Another study involving 80 people with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) found that a daily intake of 1.5 mg of cinnamon powder for 12 weeks improved insulin sensitivity than the placebo group.
7. Cinnamon can lower your stress levels
When we experience stress, our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode. This causes our heart rate and blood pressure to increase, giving us more energy to deal with the perceived threat.
While this response is helpful in the short term, it can be harmful if we’re constantly under stress, as it can lead to high blood pressure.
Cinnamon has traditionally been used as a natural remedy for various ailments, including stress. Studies have shown that cinnamon can help lower stress levels by reducing the production of cortisol, the stress hormone.
In addition, cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce the physical symptoms of stress.
How to Use Cinnamon to Lower Blood Pressure:
1. Add cinnamon to your diet
Adding cinnamon to your diet is one of the simplest ways to use it to lower blood pressure. You can add it to foods such as oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothies or sprinkle it on top of baked goods or breakfast cereals.
2. Take cinnamon supplements
Cinnamon supplements are another easy way to get the benefits of this spice. Look for supplements that contain at least 1 gram of cinnamon per day.
3. Make tea with cinnamon
To make cinnamon tea, add 1 teaspoon of ground Ceylon cinnamon to a cup of boiling water and let it steep for 10 minutes. Drink 1-2 cups per day for best results.
4. Use essential oils
Essential oils are another great way to get the benefits of cinnamon. Add a few drops of cinnamon oil to a diffuser and inhale the fumes. You can also add a few drops of oil to a bathtub filled with warm water and enjoy a relaxing soak.
How Much Cinnamon Should You Use?
When it comes to the amount of cinnamon you need to bring down blood pressure, there’s no recommended amount; however, in research, dosages of 500 mg and 1500mg have often been used. Therefore, you can go with any amount along that line and be good to go.
When taking your supplement, though, always choose Ceylon, as it contains less coumarin and thus has fewer side effects.
Possible Cinnamon Side Effects:
1. It may cause liver damage
Too much cassia cinnamon can damage the liver due to its high coumarin content. A teaspoon of cassia contains 7 to 18 mg of coumarin, while Ceylon cinnamon only contains a trace.
Keep in mind that the recommended daily intake of coumarin is about 0.1 mg/kg body weight per day or 5 mg per day for someone weighing 59 kg. This means even a teaspoon will provide more than required.
If you need to take cinnamon more often, especially if you’re taking it to treat a certain condition, always go for Ceylon cinnamon. Please read the labels, as they always indicate whether the cinnamon is Ceylon or cassia.
2. Drug interactions
The fact that cinnamon can act as an ACE inhibitor means it can interfere with the effects of the medications used to perform the same job.
If used together, it may cause your blood pressure to drop too low, which can be life-threatening if not controlled.
If you’re going to use cinnamon along with your blood pressure medications, it’s always important to talk to your doctor to get the best guidance. Also, ensure that you’re closely monitoring your blood pressure.
3. It may increase the risk of cancer.
Too much coumarin can cause DNA damage which can increase the risk of developing cancer. One study found that coumarin could cause various cancerous tumors, including liver, lung, and kidney cancer.
However, more research in humans is needed to confirm this side effect.
4. Allergic reaction
Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, a compound that can trigger allergic reactions in individuals allergic to it.
Cinnamaldehyde allergy may present with mouth sores, tongue or gum swelling, white patches in the mouth, and a burning and itching sensation.
5. It may cause your blood sugar to drop too low
While cinnamon is a natural remedy for insulin resistance, too much of it, especially if on glucose-lowering medications, can cause your blood sugar levels to drop too low.
Again, consult your doctor if you’re going to e using cinnamon alongside your medications, and ensure you monitor your glucose levels closely.
Cinnamon is a medicinal spice that offers numerous health benefits, including fighting inflammation and providing antioxidant benefits.
Can cinnamon lower blood pressure? Yes, cinnamon can lower blood pressure in various ways, including fighting inflammation, providing antioxidant protection, lowering cholesterol, reducing stress levels, and getting rid of excess water and sodium from the body.
There are various types of cinnamon, but cassia or regular cinnamon and Ceylon are the major ones.
Ceylon, or true cinnamon, is the best to consume due to its low levels of coumarin, which has been shown to cause various side effects.
On the other hand, cassia is very high in coumarin; if taken in excess, it can cause liver damage and even increase the risk of cancer, among other issues.
You can easily include cinnamon in your diet by adding it to food, making cinnamon tea, or taking it as a supplement.
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