With changing lifestyle, obesity and less nutritious diet the incidence of arthritis are increasing rapidly. Today more than 50 mn adults in US are known to have been diagnosed by doctors by this disease. By 2030, this number is expected to increase to 67 mn. Worldwide more than 175 mn people are estimated to be suffering from arthritis. There would be many more who do not visit doctors because of various reasons. If you thought it is just an old age disease you are wrong, one in every 250 children in US has some sort of arthritis. Let us understand a bit about this disorder before finding out how cinnamon can help here.
Joints in the body are found at the point where two or more bones join. They are covered by cartilage which is soft and spongy and gives easy movement to the joint. When the area around the joints become inflamed, stiff and cause pain, we are said to suffer from arthritis. Hence, arthritis refers to ‘inflammation of the joints’. This causes stiffness and normal movements become difficult. While arthritis usually affects the joints of the limbs, other parts like certain internal organs or the skin could also develop arthritis.
Of the different types, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout are the most common. Pain, swelling, tenderness, warmth, stiffness and redness are common symptoms of arthritis. Causes of arthritis are age, gender, obesity and certain jobs that require heavy manual labor that affects joints. Treatment usually involves taking pain medication, hot or cold compresses, exercise or surgery. With early diagnosis, most types of arthritis of can usually be managed well.
Cinnamon for Arthritis
If you are fan of cinnamon you would already know it is a very popular spice used all over the world. While there are many varieties of this tree, the most commonly used are Ceylon and Cassia cinnamon.
If we go into chemical composition of cinnamon – there are three active chemical components found in cinnamon which offer this spice’s unique healing abilities – cinnamaldehyde, cinnamlyl alcohol and cinnamyl acetate. Cinnamaldehyde has the ability to prevent unwanted aggregation of blood platelets. Such excess clumping together of blood platelets could cause inadequate blood circulation. By preventing this, clumping, cinnamaldehyde stops the release of arachidonic acid, an inflammatory fatty acid. This makes cinnamon an anti-inflammatory food that could help reduce inflammation caused by diseases like arthritis.
A combination of cinnamon and honey are said to be an excellent remedy for arthritis. Patients suffering from arthritis can use the following remedy. Take a cup of water and boil it. Now add one tablespoon honey and ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder. Let it stand for a few minutes, strain and drink this morning and night. In a study in Copenhagen, patients with arthritis were given this honey and cinnamon mixture for a week before breakfast. Of these 73 of 200 patients were completely relieved of pain and after a month most of the patients could walk about without any pain.
Since cinnamon has been used for centuries in traditional herbal medicine, its therapeutic benefits have been researched in animal in vivo and in vitro studies. From these it has been concluded that cinnamon has antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, immunomodulatory, cholesterol-lowering and cardiovascular benefits.
Rheumatoid arthritis leads to excess bone loss especially from spaces between the joints. This bone loss is a result of excess activity of osteoclasts – types of cells – and this causes loss of movement, pain and deformity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In one Japanese study, it was shown that cinnamon was able to reduce this excess activity by osteoclasts. This suggests that cinnamon could be used to treat certain specific bone disorders. An extract of Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon Cinnamon) was used in this study and it was found that volatile compounds 2-methoxycinnamaldehyde and cinnamaldehyde were able to reduce formation of osteoclasts.
Inflammation is caused when abnormal immune cell activity causes tissue damage and production of inflammatory cytokines. Cinnamon is able to suppress production of such inflammatory cytokines since it has anti-inflammatory properties. It does this by using special immune cells called macrophages. Hence, inflammatory conditions like arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease could all benefit from therapeutic doses of cinnamon.
NF-kappaB is a pro-inflammatory factor that affects aging and causes inflammatory conditions. The effects of cinnamaldehyde were studied for its ability to modulate NF-kappaB activities. It was found to be effective and hence can play a role in preventing oxidative stress and age-related degenerative conditions like arthritis.
There is no real established dose of cinnamon. Others recommend ½ tsp of cinnamon powder a day. This is equivalent to 2-4g cinnamon powder. It is bets if you can incluse cinnamon as a spice and also use it with other great herbal healers such as honey.
Consuming food amounts of cinnamon is safe for most people. When taken in large quantities, cinnamon supplements could cause certain side effects. Cinnamon oil could irritate the mucous membranes and skin. It could cause mouth sores, inflammation of the intestines and stomach, vomiting, diarrhea or dizziness. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and those taking diabetic medication must avoid cinnamon.
Cassia cinnamon contains large quantities of coumarin. Hence, it could worse liver disease and affect blood sugar levels. Stop taking all forms of cinnamon two weeks before surgery for it could interferer with blood sugar control. People with breast cancer and other cancers that affect hormonal levels must not take cinnamon. It could interact with blood thinners, heart medicines and antibiotics. Consult a doctor before taking cinnamon for arthritis.