Defining High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure or hypertension is a common condition. In fact, in the U.S. about one third of adults have been diagnosed with this disease, which is linked to heart attack, heart disease, stroke, kidney impairment and other conditions. Once diagnosed, high blood pressure is treatable with medications and by modifying your diet. One common measure is reducing your sodium intake. However, cinnamon may also help reduce your blood pressure levels as well.
The Cinnamon-Blood Pressure Connection
According to a 2006 study conducted by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, cinnamon actually helps reduce blood pressure in people with diabetes. (The researchers also noted that cinnamon reduces systolic blood pressure in people without diabetes, too.) Though the reason for this occurring is not clear, it does seem that cinnamon reduces the amount of circulating insulin, which may explain why it's effective for those with diabetes. It was found that a half a teaspoon a day is enough to reduce your blood pressure levels.
You can consume it in a variety of ways, the easiest of which is by simply adding freshly shaved cinnamon to the foods you eat each day. However, you could also take cinnamon supplements in the form of capsules or pills. Be sure it is derived from fresh cinnamon, not the powdered kind commonly sold in the spice section of the grocery store. This kind of cinnamon comes from the Cassia plant and contains Coumarin, which is toxic in large doses. When supplementing with this kind of cinnamon, you may place yourself at a higher risk of kidney or liver damage. To avoid this, buy the stick form of cinnamon, which usually comes from the Ceylon plant. Add a stick to your morning tea or add it to pies.
Cinnamon is not without its side effects. For some people, suddenly increasing the amount of cinnamon they eat can cause gingivitis, flushing (the sudden rush of blood to the face, causing warmth), gastrointestinal upset and irritated lining of the mouth. Some people should not use cinnamon in any great quantity, especially those using blood thinners like aspirin, since the spice prevents clotting. Likewise, if you are pregnant, cinnamon can cause uterine problems. Additionally, if you have ulcers, do not take cinnamon as a supplement. As always, consult with your doctor before supplementing your diet with cinnamon.