Cinnamon bark is an aromatic spice that is used all over the world for flavoring for thousands of years. The first mention of this spice in the Old Testament (Exodus 30. 24) where Moses is commanded to use sweet cinnamon in the holy anointing oil. It was a very highly prized spice in the europe. There are two main types of cinnamon available in the Market. The most commonly available is the cassia cinnamon a.k.a. chinese or saigon cinnamon. The other one is ceylon cinnamon (a.k.a. indian cinnamon or true cinnamon). These two differ in flavor and appearence. The Cassia is woody textured, while the Ceylon cinnamon has finer, less dense and thin texture. The cassia also has stronger and harsher flavor.
wikipedia.org: All about Cinnamon
The studies showing the benefit of Cinnamon have been done on Cassia cinnamon. There is however a word of caution with use of Cassia Cinnamon as a medicine. Due to the presence of a moderately toxic component called coumarin, European health agencies have recently warned against consuming large amounts of cassia. Coumarin is known to cause liver and kidney damage in high concentrations. True Ceylon cinnamon has negligible amounts of coumarin, so it is safe even in high amounts.
care.diabetesjournals.org: Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes
webmd.com: Cinnamon Helps Type 2 Diabetes Also Helps Cholesterol -- But More Than A Sprinkle Required
webmd.com: Cinnamon and Benefits for Diabetes
There are also some studies expressing doubt about the prior studies claiming benefit of (Cassia) cinnamon.
diabeteshealth.com: Cinnamon: Should It Be Taken as a Diabetes Medication?
Following are my concluding remarks on Cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is safe to be consumed as a flavoring agent, it might be beneficial due to it's antioxident contents. If it needs to be consumed in higher amounts then use it as a tea. Steep the cassia cinnamon bark in the boiling hot water, for 5 minutes, this will let all the antioxidents of the cinnamon dissolve in water and leave the harmful compound 'coumarin' in the bark as this compound doesn't dissolve in water. In this way it will help making the consumption of higher amounts of Cassia (as used in the study) safer. The Ceylon cinnamon can be safely consumed as it has negligible amount of 'coumarin'. This spice (ceylon cinnamon) if eaten regularly as part of balanced diet is very helpful as it provides you daily punch of antioxidents and also help in digestion. If it is eaten regularly as part of healthy diet it will slowly help the body assimilate sugar. If you are on medication, then cinnamon is not a substitute for medicine.
There are a few web sites directly selling ceylon cinnamon or true cinnamon.
ceylon-cinnamon.com: True Ceylon Cinnamon
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