Cinnamon is newest ‘superfood’

Studies have shown that cinnamon may help control blood sugar by making insulin efficient, moving glucose to cells.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PLANTSVILLE | CINNAMON is also known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

Considered as the “gold dust of Europe” during the 1500s, the spice called cinnamon was as valuable in that continent at that time as oil is globally today.

“I chanced upon this superfood and discovered that the Philippines has 16 native species, and they are in the International Union of Conservation of Nature’s list of threatened species,” says November Canieso-Yeo, founder of Plantsville Health, a social enterprise that aims to save the Philippine cinnamon and other aromatic indigenous species by planting them in partnership with small landholder farmers, buying their produce and developing them into healthful products.

“It’s a shame because our country imports more than 95 percent of its current cinnamon consumption. How meaningful it could be if we could help grow back the Philippine cinnamon, while earning for the farmers and its suppliers,” she adds.

Studies have shown that cinnamon may help control blood sugar by making insulin efficient, moving glucose to cells. It is also known to have other medicinal benefits for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

For her enterprising vision, Canieso-Yeo is one of the remarkable few women who qualified for the Department of Science and Technology’s Women Helping Women: Innovating Social Enterprises program.

The WHWise Program brings together government agencies and private organizations to seek out and prepare women-led social enterprises for growth, scalability and subsequent venture capitalist funding. The program provides a suite of services which includes early-stage funding, training, skills development, mentorship and business incubation. More importantly, the program will provide access to technology to enable even women from rural communities to be part of the global economy.

Canieso-Yeo’s DoST grant, in turn, caught the eye of RiteMed Philippines Inc., the country’s leading unibranded line of pharmaceutical and health care products in the country. The two companies recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the collaboration in converting Plantsville’s research studies about herbs and plants with scientific and clinical evidence to products which can be commercially made available.

Jose Maria A. Ochave, president of RiteMed, says, “With Plantsville commitment and with the full support of DoST, we may be able to optimize our country’s natural resources not just for local but even for the global market.”


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