Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum in the family Lauraceae. While Cinnamomum verum is sometimes considered to be “true cinnamon”, most cinnamon in international commerce is derived from related species, which are also referred to as “cassia” to distinguish them from “true cinnamon”.
Cinnamon is the brown bark of the cinnamon tree, which when dried, rolls into a tubular form known as a quill. Cinnamon is available in either its whole quill form (cinnamon sticks) or as ground powder. The name “cinnamon” comes through the Greek kinnámōmon, possibly from Phoenician: qinnāmôn. In several European languages, the word for cinnamon comes from the Latin word cannella, a diminutive of canna, “tube”, from the way it curls up as it dries.
Cinnamon’s unique healing abilities come from three basic types of components (cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol) in the essential oils found in its bark, plus a wide range of other volatile substances.
Ceylon Cinnamon v/s Cassia Cinnamon:
While there are approximately one hundred varieties of for cinnamon, Cinnamonum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon known as “true cinnamon”) and Cinnamomun aromaticum (Chinese cinnamon known as “cassia”) are the leading varieties consumed. While both are relatively similar in characteristics and both feature a fragrant, sweet and warm taste, the flavor of the Ceylon variety is more refined and subtle. Cassia, the less expensive variety, is the most popular variety in the United States.
History of Cinnamon:
Cinnamon was more valuable than gold in ancient times. Chinese medicine and Ayurveda have long revered cinnamon as a superpower herb which is reflected in its mention in one of the earliest books on Chinese botanical medicine, dated around 2,700 B.C. Cinnamon’s popularity continued throughout history especially in Medieval Europe. Due to its demand, cinnamon became one of the first commodities traded regularly between the Near East and Europe.
Top 14 Health Benefits of Magical Herb Cinnamon:
1. Regulates blood sugar: Cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, reducing the rise in blood sugar after eating, making it ideal for diabetics and hypoglycemics alike. It helps treat Type 2 Diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and increasing the amount of insulin production in the body.
2. Reduces LDL cholesterol levels: Numerous studies have proved the effectiveness of Cinnamon in reducing LDL (harmful) cholesterol levels helping reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. Antimicrobial properties: Cinnamon’s essential oils helps stop the growth of bacteria like E. coli, ulcer-causing H. pylori bacteria and other pathogens, as well as fungi, including the commonly problematic yeast Candida.
4. Arthritis Pain Relief: Studies have shown that the combination of Honey and Cinnamon reduces cytokines linked to arthritic pain.
5. Anti Cancer: Cinnamon may reduce the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells, holding promise for cancer prevention and sufferers of the disease.
6. Natural food preservative: When added to food, cinnamon antibacterial properties inhibit bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
7. Relief from menstrual pain and infertility: Cinnamon contains a natural chemical called cinnamaldehyde, which increases the hormone progesterone while decreasing testosterone production in women, helping to balance hormones.
8. Neurodegenerative diseases: Cinnamon reduces chronic inflammation linked with neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, and meningitis.
9. Boosts Brain Function: Chewing cinnamon flavored gum or just smelling cinnamon enhances your cognitive processing, mental alertness and memory.
10. Migraine relief: Cinnamon added to tea can help soothe the nerves and has been found to be an effective natural remedy for eliminating headaches and migraine relief.
11. Anti-clotting: Cinnamaldehyde (also called cinnamic aldehyde) prevents unwanted clumping of blood platelets by inhibiting the release of an inflammatory fatty acid called arachidonic acid from platelet membranes and reducing the formation of an inflammatory messaging molecule called thromboxane A2.
12. Anti inflammatory: Cinnamon lowers the release of arachidonic acid from cell membranes that can helps lessen inflammation.
13. Rich in Fiber: Along with essential oils, cinnamon is an excellent source of fiber,manganese and calcium. Calcium and fiber can bind to bile salts and expel them from the body preventing the damage that certain bile salts can cause to colon cells leading to colon cancer.
14. Beats the Flu: A herbal tea concoction of cinnamon and ginger has been an age old remedy to beat and provide instant relief from onset of a cold or flu, due to cinnamon “warming” properties.
Side effects and Precautions:
~Toxicity – As with most things taking Cinnamon over extended periods of time will build a certain level of toxicity in your body. The recommenced dosage of Cinnamon according to the US Department of health, is 6 grams daily for 6 weeks or less.
~ Premature Labor – Pregnant women should not take Cinnamon as it can induce premature labor or uterine contractions. While Cinnamon helps with stomach pains, gas of indigestion, you should NOT be consuming or smelling Cinnamon for these purposes while you are pregnant .
~ Liver Damage – Coumarin which can cause liver failure if taken daily or in high doses and was banned in Europe for a while because of its effects on the liver. Choose Ceylon Cinnamon, which only has 0.04% Coumarin as compared to about 5% in Cassia.
~ Blood Thinner – The blood thinning property of Cassia Cinnamon must not be taken with other blood thinning medication.
~ Allergies – A small minority of people may be allergic to Cinnamon and symptoms usually include a runny nose, watery eyes or soreness of the eyes, shortness of breadth (usually by smelling Cinnamon Oil), upset stomach, facial or hand swelling, anaphylactic shock (unusual heartbeat, dizziness, confusion, dizziness, sudden drop in blood pressure) and nausea.
~ Skin irritation – Touching Cinnamon oil without diluting it will irritate your skin and create a burning sensation.
~ Increased Heart Rate – High doses of Cinnamon could be dangerous for those with a heart condition as Cinnamon is known to increase your heart rate. Cinnamon oil is especially powerful and should be diluted to less than 2% before use.
~ Choking Hazard – Swallowing Cinnamon powder without water creates a serious choking hazard harming your lungs fatally.
Antibiotic Conflict – Taking Cinnamon with antibiotics is in many ways akin to taking a double dose of antibiotics.
~ Heat – Cinnamon increases body heat so if you are going through menopause or any other ailment that aggravates due to increase in body heat, then avoid Cinnamon.
~ Drug Interactions: If you take any medicines regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using cinnamon supplements. They could interact with antibiotics, diabetes drugs, blood thinners, heart medicines, and others.