You might be able to use a sprinkle of cinnamon to help cool off from a spicy meal, new research suggests.
The common spice was used in a study that observed its effects on pigs, but researchers say the findings could also apply to people.
“When pigs feed at room temperature, carbon dioxide gas increases in their stomach. Cinnamon in their food reduces this gas by decreasing the secretion of gastric acid and pepsin from the stomach walls, which in turn cools the pigs’ stomachs during digestion,” said Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh, project leader and distinguished professor at RMIT University’s School of Engineering in Melbourne, Australia.
The pigs were divided into groups with varied diets ranging from foods with no cinnamon to foods with cinnamon supplements. The groups also stayed in different rooms with different temperatures.
“When the pigs are hot, they hyperventilate, which reduces CO2 production. With cinnamon treatment, CO2 decreases even further,” Kalantar-Zadeh said. “This not only cools the pigs but leads to a significant improvement in their overall health.”
The study found that the pigs that consumed cinnamon had a decrease in stomach temperature compared to those that did not eat cinnamon. Jianzhen Ou, a research fellow with RMIT University’s School of Engineering, said it’s not hard to figure out why people gravitate towards the tasty spice.
“Altogether cinnamon cooled the stomach by up to two degrees Celsius,” Ou said. “No wonder cinnamon is so popular in warm regions, as taking it makes people feel better and gives them a feeling of cooling down.”
The study is just one discovery from a research project at RMIT focusing on gut health using swallowable gas sensor capsules, or smart pills, developed at the University, according to a University release. A paper on the study, published in the journal, Scientific Reports, includes input from scientists from the University of Melbourne and Monash University.
“Under no heat-stress, feeding increases gastric carbon dioxide concentration, while dietary cinnamon reduces it due to decrease in gastric acid and pepsin secretion,” the paper’s abstract said. “Alternatively, heat-stress leads to hyperventilation in pigs, which reduces carbon dioxide concentration and with the cinnamon treatment, carbon dioxide diminishes even more, resulting in health improvement outcomes.”
The digestible gas sensor capsules will help respond to the various gases in a beneficial way, according to the paper’s abstract.
The gas sensing capsules have built-in gas sensors, a microprocessor and wireless high frequency design. The current methods of monitoring intestinal gas are noninvasive, but they’re also unreliable, Kalantar-Zadeh said.
“Being able to accurately measure intestinal gases could accelerate our knowledge about how specific gut microorganisms contribute to gastrointestinal disorders and food intake efficiency, enabling the development of new diagnostic techniques and treatments,” he said.
But that’s not all the study could possible show, Kalantar-Zadeh said.
“Our experiments with pigs and cinnamon show how swallowable gas sensor capsules can help provide new physiological information that will improve our understanding of diet or medicine,” he said. “They are a highly reliable device for monitoring and diagnosing gastrointestinal disorders. They will revolutionize food science as we know it.”