Cinnamon is another of my favourite herbs! I know, I know — I have a lot of favourites.
Technically a spice, the main medicinal species is Cinnamomum zeylancium. Native to Sri Lanka and south-west India, cinnamon is one of the oldest spices in existence and is used all around the world. I might even speculate here and say that it is THE most used spice ever.
During my pregnancy with Bowie I had crazy spice cravings, I went nuts for Christmas cake, spiced biscuits and hot cross buns. Bowie really is made of sugar and spice and all things nice, just as the rhyme suggests.
Minerals: Calcium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur.
The main active constituents found in cinnamon are volatile oils and tannins. The main volatile oils are cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate and alcohol, eugenol, benzaldehyde.
- Anti-emetic (anti-nausea)
- Anti-hyperglycaemic (assists with blood sugar regulation)
- Antispasmodic (reduces cramping)
- Anthelmintic (destroys parasitic round worms in the digestive tract)
On top of all these great qualities, cinnamon is also being used as a natural preservative in some foods. The volatile oil compound cinnamaldehyde has a strong antibacterial and antifungal activity and has been shown to be effective against these common bacteria and fungi: E.coli, Listeria Salmonella, Candida, H. pyloriand Staph aureus.
In the last few decades, there has been a fair amount of research on the effects of cinnamon on insulin-related conditions such as Type II Diabetes, Insulin resistance and Gestational Diabetes. So far the research has generally been favourable although there have been mixed results. The great news is that cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels, triglycerides and overall cholesterol as well as increase HDL cholesterol. This means we have a shot at treating these conditions without the side effects of conventional treatment!
Energetically, cinnamon is a hot and stimulating herb making it perfect for warming the nervous and digestive systems. The ground herb or essential oil can be useful for relieving aches and chills at the onset of colds and flu, or settling the digestive tract during bouts of nausea, vomiting, flatulence and dyspepsia.
The precautionary ins and outs: It is currently recommended that cinnamon should not be used medicinally during pregnancy, however normal dietary intake is likely to be safe. The essential oil should not be used topically as it can burn the skin or cause an allergic reaction, ideally use it with a vaporiser or diffuser. Remember, always speak to your healthcare professional first if you have any concerns.
Ground cinnamon is my absolute favourite spice in the kitchen. I use it in smoothies, homemade muesli, porridge, baking, savoury dishes such as Indian and Mexican recipes, on pancakes, in desserts, on coffee. The possibilities are endless.
Do you love cinnamon? What is your favourite way to use it?