Cinnamon – Introduction, Health Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects of Cinnamomum Verum

Table of Contents

1. What is Cinnamon? 
2. Morphology and Botanical Details 
3. Chemical Constituent and Nutritional Value
4. Habitat
5. Ayurvedic properties of Cinnamon
6. Health Benefits & Uses of Cinnamon
7. Side Effects of Cinnamon
8. Different Types of Cinnamon
9. Frequently Asked Question

1. What is Cinnamon? 

Step into the aromatic world of Cinnamon, known scientifically as Cinnamomum Verum. This ancient spice, cherished for its distinctive flavor and potential health benefits, has left an indelible mark on culinary and holistic traditions across cultures.

In this post, we embark on a journey to uncover the secrets of Cinnamomum Verum, delving into its historical significance, the array of benefits it offers, and the diverse ways it can elevate your culinary creations and well-being. From its potential to support blood sugar regulation and boost cognitive function to its role in adding warmth to dishes, Cinnamon stands as a versatile spice with a wealth of possibilities.

Join us as we unravel the layers of Cinnamomum Verum's allure, while also considering the potential side effects and considerations associated with its consumption. Whether you're a culinary enthusiast, a wellness seeker, or simply captivated by the world of spices, Cinnamon invites you to embark on this enlightening journey. Let's explore the aromatic wonders and potential virtues that Cinnamon has to offer, discovering its essence and richness together.

2. What is Cinnamon?

Cinnamon scientific name is Cinnamomum Verum, some other common names are dalchini, Ceylon cinnamon, tvak, and 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 physicians 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.

cinnamon health benefits and uses

3. 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, 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, the bark shrinks and curls into a cylinder or a quill.

4. 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.

5. Habitat

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.

6. Ayurvedic Properties of Cinnamon

Cinnamon, known as "Twak" or "Tvak" in Ayurveda, is a popular spice with various medicinal properties.

Ayurvedic properties of Cinnamon:

1. Rasa (Taste): Cinnamon is believed to have a combination of sweet (Madhura), pungent (Katu), and astringent (Kashaya) tastes.

2. Virya (Potency): It is heating in nature (Ushna Virya).

3. Vipaka (Post-digestive taste): The post-digestive taste is sweet (Madhura Vipaka).

4. Dosha Effects: Cinnamon is generally considered balancing for Kapha dosha and Vata dosha, but its heating nature can increase Pitta dosha in excess.

Ayurvedic Uses:

  1. Digestive Health: Cinnamon supports healthy digestion by stimulating digestive enzymes, promoting appetite, and reducing bloating.

  2. Blood Sugar Support: It is believed to help regulate blood sugar levels and support metabolic health.

  3. Circulation: Cinnamon is used to promote healthy circulation and cardiovascular function by aiding in blood vessel dilation.

  4. Anti-inflammatory: Cinnamon contains compounds with anti-inflammatory effects, making it beneficial for managing inflammatory conditions.

  5. Respiratory Health: It is believed to have expectorant properties and may support respiratory health by managing cough and congestion.

  6. Immune System: Cinnamon's immune-enhancing properties can support overall immune health and well-being.

  7. Aphrodisiac: In Ayurveda, cinnamon is considered an aphrodisiac and is used to support sexual health.

  8. Antioxidant: Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants that help protect cells from oxidative stress.

7. 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

Acne

A paste of cinnamon powder prepared with a few drops of fresh lime juice can be applied over pimples and blackheads with beneficial results.

Bad Breath

Cinnamon is a good mouth freshener.

Common Cold

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.

Digestive Disorders

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.

Headache

Applying a paste of finely powdered cinnamon mixed in water on the temples and forehead readily cures headaches produces by exposure to cold air.

Other Diseases

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.

Natural Birth-Control

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.

Other Uses

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 well as in the synthesis of vanillin.

8. Different Types of Cinnamon

It comes in several types, each with its own distinct characteristics, flavor profiles, and uses. The two most common types are Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) and Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia). Here are the details.

Ceylon Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)

Also known as "true cinnamon" or "Cinnamomum zeylanicum." It originates from Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), Madagascar, and parts of India. It is known for its delicate, sweet flavor with subtle citrus undertones and it has a light brown color and a soft, crumbly texture when ground. It can be used in desserts, beverages, and recipes where a subtle cinnamon flavor is desired.

Cassia Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia)

It is sometimes referred to as "Chinese cinnamon" or "Cassia bark." It is native to China, Vietnam, and Indonesia, though also cultivated in other tropical regions. It has a stronger, more intense flavor compared to Ceylon cinnamon, with a spicy and slightly bitter taste. It is dark reddish-brown with a rougher texture compared to Ceylon cinnamon. It is commonly used in savory dishes, spicy recipes, and in commercial food products due to its robust flavor.

9. 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.

 


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