With widespread abuse of antibiotics, bacteria are getting stronger and harder to kill. This is creating drug-resistant superbugs, and that doesn’t bode well for human health.
According to Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, the World Health Organization’s Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation, “Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time.”
In a frantic search for innovative options, researchers are turning towards naturally-derived compounds found in traditional medicine. Namely, the humble spice found in your chai tea—cinnamon.
Cinnamon oil may be the key to stopping these dangerous, resistant pathogens in their tracks. According to a study published in Microbiology, the powerful flavor compound in cinnamon oil—cinnamaldehyde—can slam the brakes on bacterial growth. And they weren’t just testing it on just any old bacteria. The study used biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a difficult to eradicate bacteria that is responsible for diseases in both plants and animals.
In humans, this dangerous pathogen can cause ear infections, skin rashes, UTIs, pneumonia, blood and bone infections, endocarditis and even meningitis. The World Health Organization considers this superbug one of its top 3 critical priorities, as it has grown resistant to multiple powerful antibiotics, including one known as carbapenem, and is often severe or deadly.
When various concentrations of cinnamaldehyde were applied to the Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm in the study, its formation was actually disrupted by over 75 percent. Its swarming motility, or ability to translocate across surfaces, was also greatly reduced, depending on the cinnamaldehyde concentrations. For a bacteria that is becoming nearly impossible to treat with modern-day antibiotics, who knew a mundane kitchen spice could hold the key to its undoing?
Apparently, plenty of people. Antioxidant-rich cinnamon has been lauded as a natural antimicrobial compound since ancient times. Ancient Egyptians used it extensively, according to the medical text Ebers Papyrus, which dates back to 1550 BCE. In modern natural medicine, it is known as an impressive blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure regulator. It also has powerful potential in helping treat diabetes, may help prevent Alzheimer’s and even protects the body against free radical damage. But it’s the incredible antibacterial properties of cinnamon that are finally getting Western medicine’s attention.
A strong word of caution before you start chugging cinnamon oil: cinnamon oil is extremely powerful. Even touching it can lead to skin irritation or blisters. It should never be ingested on its own, as it can burn the lining of your throat. Always buy high quality cinnamon oil and dilute or blend it in a quality carrier oil. If you want to reap the antibiotic benefits of cinnamon daily, the safest bet is to sprinkle cinnamon on food and drinks, unless under professional supervision.
Cinnamon has powerful healing potential. With the growing risk of impossible-to-treat superbugs, it is time to seek medical inspiration from more natural solutions. Who knows, one of them may save the world.