Cinnamon scientific name is Cinnamomum Verum, some other common names are dalchini, Ceylon cinnamon, tvak, darchini. It is one of the more famous spices from Biblical and pre-Biblical times, the tree of cinnamon was known to an ancient physician before 2700 BC.
The Chinese used the bark of this tree as a medicine, the Romans knew about the medicinal value of this bark and eminent physician like Galen and Dioscorides described various uses of cinnamon. By the 8th century, Indian physicians were using the herb for its therapeutic properties.
The oldest record available about the description of cinnamon is in the Torah, the Jewish religious text, it was, however, Khizvenee who first gave details about the medicinal virtues of this herb in the 13th century.
Morphology and Botanical details of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a small, bushy evergreen tree, dried leaves of cinnamon, along with fried inner bark are used as a spice or condiment across the world. It has a pleasing fragrance and a warm, sweet, and aromatic taste.
The bark of the tree is thick, smooth, and light or dark brownish in color, the inner bark is obtained from carefully selected shoots. The outer woody bark is stripped of the shoots and discarded, and the supple inner bark is removed in long strips.
This operation is best done during the rainy season when peeling the bark is relatively easy, as these peelings dry, they curl up in the form of long sticks, which are then cut into 5-10 cm segments, while drying, bark shrinks and curls into a cylinder or a quill.
Chemical Constituent and Nutritional Value
The chemical composition of the quills consists of moisture, protein, fat, fiber, carbohydrates, and ash, besides calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamins C and A, tannin, eugenol, pinene, and minerals. Its calorific value is 355.
Cinnamon contains an essential oil known as cinnamon oil, this oil consists of a substantial amount of eugenol, the bark, and green leaves also contain oil. The root bark oil differs from both stem bark and leaf oils.
Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka and tropical Asia, parts of southern India, mainly the Western Ghats, the tree grows to a height of 10-15 meters and can reach 30 cm in diameter, the true trees have thinner and lighter colored bark. Today, it is cultivated in many parts of the world, it is an invasive species in Madagascar, Seychelles, and other tropical Pacific islands, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and a few countries in Eastern Africa. The plant is occupied every two years, to enhance shoot growth and yield.
Health Benefits and Uses of Cinnamon
Cinnamon has astringent, antiseptic, antifungal, carminative, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and stimulant properties. It is used as a remedy against colds and digestive ailments like diarrhea and colic. A few drops of cinnamon oil with hair oil, help relieve itchy scalp and acne.
Cinnamon leaves are powered or as a decoction, it acts as a stimulant and is useful in relieving flatulence, increasing secretions, and discharging urine. It prevents nervous tension and improves complexion and memory. A pinch of cinnamon powder mixed with honey does the trick if regularly taken every night.
The inner bark yields 0.5-1% aromatic essential oil, depending on the species, it is used as a seasoning in food, such as meat and baked goods, and in drinks such as coffee. It is an appetite suppressant, it also contains the alkaloid coumarin, a fragrant chemical used in cosmetics, colognes, and tobacco.
When consumed regularly, coumarin is believed to impact the liver negatively. Cinnamon is extensively used all over the world in cuisine, confections, cosmetics, soaps, and incense.
Here are some health benefits and uses of Cinnamon
A paste of cinnamon powder prepared with a few drops of fresh lime juice can be applied over pimples and blackheads with beneficial results.
Cinnamon is a good mouth freshener.
Cinnamon oil, mixed with honey, is an effective remedy for the common cold. Taking coarsely powdered cinnamon boiled in a glass of water with a pinch of pepper powder and honey is recommended for treating influenza, sore throat, and malaria. Its regular use during the rainy season prevents attacks of influenza.
Cinnamon stimulates digestion and checks nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. A tbsp. of cinnamon water, prepared for cold, taken half an hour meal, relieves flatulence and digestion.
Applying a paste of finely powdered cinnamon mixed in water on the temples and forehead readily cures headaches produces by exposure to cold air.
Cinnamon is highly beneficial in the treatment of serval other ailments, including spasmodic afflictions, asthma, paralysis, excessive menstruation, uterus disorders, and gonorrhea. It is sometimes used as a prophylactic agent to control German measles.
Cinnamon can be used for natural birth control; it has the remarkable effect of checking the early release of ova after childbirth. A piece of cinnamon taken every night for a month after childbirth delays menstruation by up to 15 to 20 months thus preventing early conception. Indirectly it also helps the secretion of breast milk, and prolonged breastfeeding checks the restarting of menstruation after childbirth, according to studies.
Dried cinnamon leaves and inner bark are used for flavoring cakes, sweets, and curry powder, they are also used in incense, dentifrices, and perfumes. Cinnamon bark oil is used for flavoring confectionery and liqueurs. It is also used in pharmaceuticals and dental preparations. Cinnamon leaf oil is used in perfumes and flavoring as also in the synthesis of vanillin.
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Side Effects of the Cinnamon
All Ayurveda herbs are plant-based and don’t have any side effects, but they may react with some allopathy or homeopathy medicine. It is better to consult the doctor if you are on any medications or have unique health issues.