Cinnamon

We all know that what is giving special taste to a delicious warm cream pie or a fresh aromatic rice pudding is cinnamon.
Cinnamon, kinnamomon in Greek, is referred in Chinese texts dating back in 2800 B.C. It was used by ancient Egyptians for embalming and in medieval Europe for religious rites and the production of antiseptics.
At the work of Herodotus "Histories", specifically the third book named "Thaleia", an ancient notion is reported about the "cinnamon birds". According to the myth those birds were flying to a far away land in order to bring back to Arabia cinnamon sticks by which they were building their nests on the top branches of very high trees. The natives were tempting the birds with big pieces of meat. However their nests could not bear the weight and were falling apart. That way the Arabs were collecting the cinnamon sticks from the ground. It is said that the price of cinnamon was periodically reaching that of gold. Aristotle referred to the cinnamon birds too, while Pliny the Elder thought that the myth was the Arab's trick to raise the price of cinnamon! Pliny also reports that 350 gramms of cinnamon had the same value as 5 kilos of silver.
Nowadays cinnamon is used widely for the preparation of sweets, salty dishes and beverages. Apart from the pleasures offered to our palate, traditional quackeries and recent scientific studies underpin the indications that cinnamon has many healing properties.
According to Ayurveda cinnamon is acting beneficially to the heart, the spleen, the liver and the kidneys. In India it is believed that cinnamon beverages have the power to reinforce warm feelings and help people build strong interpersonal relations.
Cinnamon is rich in antioxidant substances, relieves pain and enhances circulation and heating of the body. It has antifungal and germicide properties and is suitable for the confrontation of indigestion, diarrhea, intestine upset and gas. It is used for relieving toothache and alleviating bad mouth odor. It has an anticlotting effect on blood (cinnamon beverages are very beneficial for dysmenorrhea), helps relieve arthritis pain and is a rich source of manganese, iron and calcium. Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol. According to a study published in the "New Scientist" of August 2000 cinnamon triggers the ability of fat cells in diabetic individuals to respond to insulin and enhances the removal of glucose. Today, many studies prove that cinnamon has a regulatory effect on blood glucose levels thus rendering this unique spice a valuable ally of people having diabetes type II.
In aromatherapy cinnamon essential oil is used as a component of fragrances, aphrodisiac massage oils and antiseptic lotions. Indigestion and period pain, intestine discomfort and gas can be relieved by rubbing a mixture of base oil and cinnamon oil on the tummy, belly or underbelly areas. Cinnamon essential oil has also heating and antiseptic effect thus suitable for battling colds and flu. A few drops of cinnamon oil in water produce a strong yet environmentally friendly insect repellant, especially for ants and mosquito.
The healing properties of cinnamon are many but bear in mind that there is always the chance of allergy and skin irritation. The essential oil must be used always with care and instructions of suggested dosage must be followed.
It is advisable for women during pregnancy and people who receive blood anticlotting treatment to avoid the use of cinnamon essential oil and the consumption of big amounts of cinnamon spice.
When you are buying cinnamon spice be extra careful. The botanical family has many species. Ceylon cinnamon or Cinnamomum Verum (true cinnamon) is considered to be the original one. One species that is also sold is cassia or Chinese cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromaticum). Unfortunately in relation with Ceylon cinnamon the cassia species contains bigger amounts of a moderately toxic compound called coumarin, which has been accused of causing kidney and lever damage. For that reason the German Federal Institute of Risk Assessment has edited a direction to avoid the consumption of big amounts of cassia (http://www.bfr.bund.de/cd/8492). You can find out how to tell the difference between cassia and Ceylon cinnamon at the site http://www.ceylon-cinnamon.com/identify-cinnamon.htm
Do you already have an appetite for cinnamon? For the cold days of winter and to mitigate menstrual cycle pain you can prepare a very invigorating and rich in nutrients beverage: boil 1 cinnamon stick and 1/2 teaspoon ginger in 1 cup of water, strain it and add honey. Cheers!

My suggestions:

For the drink above and a lot of delicious recipes use authentic Ceylon cinnamon, which you can find in sticks - prefer the organic or in powder.

To relieve problems of your digestive track and/or menstrual cycle pain prepare the following mixture and gently massage your belly and back:
3 drops eo ginger,
3 drops eo sweet orange.

Make on your own a wonderful perfume that combines the sweet freshness of orange with the warm note of cinnamon:
30 ml distilled water or organic rose water,
5 ml alcohol 80 degrees or vodka,
10 drops eo cinnamon leaf,
10 drops eo juniper,
10 drops eo jasmine.

A soap with essential oils of cinnamon and orange is ideal for dry skin. Use it in your bath water to mitigate menstrual cycle pain, muscle aches and digestive problems.

Medical writer and epidemiologist Barbara Wexler uncovers the many health benefits of cinnamon and suggests how to make it a vital ingredient in a healty diet in her interesting book "Cinnamon: Spices of Life".

If you are interested in finding out more information about the various kinds of cinnamon, their botanic properties, the secrets of their cultivation, process and marketing, the most suitable book written by a panel of experts throughout Asia is "Cinnamon and Cassia: The Genus Cinnamomum (Medicinal and Aromatic Plants - Industrial Profiles)".