Spice it up with Cinnamon

Cinnamomum zeylanicum, Cinnamomum verum

Bring out the spice jar’s and those beautiful warming herbs, we are in the seasonal change so as we wrap up summer and head into Autumn I thought it would be fantastic to pop a reminder out there about this beautiful spice that has been around for thousands of years! Cinnamon was once so highly regarded it was considered more precious than gold, in fact one of the earliest references to Cinnamon for its medicinal properties dates back to 2700 B.C.E.  The demand for cinnamon was so great, that many exploring enterprises of the 15th and 16th centuries set sail to try and find the land of where it grew. It was considered so popular and so precious, that it was one of the founding spices that set up the international spice trade, of which empires were built and brought down, wars won and lost, treaties signed and flouted as spices were among the most valuable items of trade in ancient and medieval times.

So what was all the fuss about?

Cinnamon processes unique healing abilities that come from the essential oils found in its bark, these oils contain compounds called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyleactate, cinnamyl alcohol and coumarins as well as other volatile substances, these substrates are also known as phenolic and polyphenols compounds which have strong antioxidant activity and are considered one of the most effective antioxidants. They also have biological activities such as cytotoxic antitumor, vascular, antioxidant, antiallergic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory as well as enzyme inhibition.

What are the uses?

The uses of cinnamon are vast and plenty, from treating arthritis, asthma, cancer, diarrhoea, fever, heart problems, to insomnia, menstrual problems, peptic ulcers and plenty more. In fact the latest findings is the success cinnamon has with assisting people with type 2 diabetes and its effect on being able to reduce fasting blood glucose levels by up to 29%, reduce triglycerides by up to 30% and LDL (bad) cholesterol by up to 27% simply by taking between 1 to 6g of cinnamon a day.

Ancient healers used cinnamon for stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, infant colic, as well as female reproductive problems like painful periods, pain in childbirth, and in general for inflammatory and pain in muscles and joints.

There are two types of cinnamon true cinnamon Cinnamomum verum, and Cinnamomum cassia which is not a true form of Cinnamon. The differing factor between them is their coumarin content. The coumarin found in cinnamomum verum has very little anticoagulant properties, however a fungal form of coumarin called dicoumarol can become a potent hemorrhagic compound. This form is found in Cinnamomum cassia and it is what warfarin is made from.

Interactions:

Cinnamon when applied topically may cause contact dermatitis, The essential oil can irritate the skin as well as mucous membranes, especially those of the stomach, intestines and urinary tract. Those that suffer from kidney stones or stomach ulcers should avoid using cinnamon.

Keeping Cinnamon

Ground Cinnamon and sticks should be kept in air tight container in a cool dark dry place. Ground cinnamon you want to keep for six months where as the sticks you can keep for a year. And remember you definitely don’t want to get a mould growing on your cinnamon.

If you feel a seasonal cold or flu coming on try this warming tea

1 inch slice of fresh ginger root

¼ teaspoon of cinnamon

¼  or 1/2 lemon

1 cup hot water

Grind the ginger (or juice with the lemon)

Squeeze the lemon juice to hot water

Add cinnamon

Relax, drink, enjoy and feel the soothing effects as the cinnamon calms the smooth muscles and GI tract and know this beautiful spice has worked its magic for thousands of years healing and promoting wellness.

Happy Autumn xx

 

Referencing

Braun, L., & Cohen, M. (2011). Herbs & natural supplements an evidence based guide (3 ed.). Chatswood, NSW 2067, Australia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

Foster, S. (2012). Cinnamon. National center for complementary and alternative medicine.

Ganora, L. (2009). Herbal constituents foundations of phytochemistry. Louisville, CO, 80027: Herbalchem press.

Lacy, A., & O’Kennedy, R. (2004). Studies on Coumarins and Coumarin-Related Compounds to Determine their Therapeutic Role in the Treatment of Cancer. Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.

Murray, M. & Pizzorono, J. (2005) The encyclopedia of healing foods. NY , 10020: Atria Books

Ramya, B., S., & Ganesh, P. (2012). Phytochemical analysis and comparative effect of Cinnamomum zeylanicum, Piper nigrum and Pimpinella anisum with selected antibiotics and its antibacterial activity against enterobacteriaceae family. International Journal of Pharmaceutical & Biological Archives.