How we tend to use it
It’s a cinnamon time of year – cinnamon in mulled wine, mulled cider, pies, pastries, hot chocolate with cinnamon… There are two things I find really interesting about this.
- Food combining – We combine cinnamon with high sugar foods. This is interesting because of the affect cinnamon has on sugar metabolism.
- It’s a cold time of year. This is interesting because cinnamon helps stimulate circulation.
We do these two things automatically, without even thinking about it.
Cinnamon’s history is interesting too. It was used by the Egyptians as one of the ingredients for mummification. Moses was commanded to use both the sweet cinnamon. and cassia in the anointing oil. It’s in Proverbs, that the lover’s bed is to be perfumed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Even Solomon speaks of it. Cinnamon was a gift suitable for monarchs and Gods!
It was VERY expensive! Reportedly, it was significantly more expensive by weight than silver. Nero is said to have burned a year’s worth of cinnamon at his wife’s funeral.
Cinnamon is a native of Ceylon. This Cinnamon is also known as Sweet Cinnamon or Cinnamum zeylanicum (also known as C. verum). Other varieties of cinnamon exist too, but the other main one in commerce, particularly in North America, is Cassia, or Cinnamomum cassia, which is more bitter than it’s Ceylon relative. Cassia is what most people probably have in their kitchen right now if they have Cinnamon at all.
Used medicinally, Sweet Cinnamon can be safely used in higher doses than Cassia can because Cassia has a fairly high coumarin content. Because it is sweeter than Cassia it requires less sweetener with it when cooking with it. A good thing when you’re trying to cut sugar out of your diet. A handy tip is to use Liquorice root, which is an adaptogen, as a sweetener instead of sugar or honey. Both Cinnamon’s have similar usage as medicine.
Cinnamon has many uses medicinally. Cinnamon has been used for nausea, hyperacidity, to promote good digestion, IBS, diarrhea, flus and colds, body lice, improved sugar metabolism, colic, as an antimicrobial (esp. the essential oil), and to stimulate good circulation. Although it’s not recommended in therapeutic doses during pregnancy, it was one of the very few things I could actually keep down when I was pregnant with my first child.
We’re learning some pretty amazing things about cinnamon in modern studies too! Sure we’ve used it for diabetes, but now many studies back this use up too.
Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 28, No. 1, 16-21 (2009)
Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jn;85(6):1552-6 /
These are just two of many examples.
What else is it good for?
- Alzheimer’s Disease – it inhibited tau aggregation and filament formation
- Fungal infection
- E. coli and Listeria
As you can see, cinnamon is a VERY versatile spice. Next time your feeling a little ill, consider the benefits of cinnamon before reaching for the medicine cabinet.
Three Tasty “Medicinal” Ideas
Here are three tasty ways to let this spice, this food, be your medicine:
- Try cinnamon and honey to sooth a sore throat.
- Cinnamon and grated ginger makes a nice tea for cold winter days. Add a little honey for sweetness and added benefits. Lemon juice and/or lemon zest is good with this too. Great for times of cold and flu.
- Really spice it up by making your own Chai! I like it with bay leaves, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, Liquorice, and black tea. This has many benefits – for colds and flus, for something to get the circulation going, for tuning down the appetite, aid sugar metabolism… and just because it tastes so good!
That’s pretty tasty medicine!
Written by Elizabeth Walker – Clinical Herbal Therapist, Registered Herbalist, and head Herbwalker
At The Herbwalker’s Apothecary www.TheHerbwalkersApothecary.ca
Herbwalker: a person who uses plants in daily life for health, diet, beauty, and more.
Are you a Herbwalker too?
 J Alzheimers Dis. 2009 Jul;17(3):585-97.
 Can J Microbiol. 2008 Nov;54(11):950-6.
 J Food Prot. 2006 May;69(5):1046-55.
9 Aug;20(8):614-20. Epub 2008 Oct 5.
Recipes with cinnamon in them:
Note: we use cinnamon a LOT in our Lifestyle Makeovers