Cinnamon is an age old spice that dates back to 2000BC. Cinnamon was referenced back in Bible times and it was often given as a gift to the monarchy. The spice naturally grows in Bangladesh, Burma and Sri Lanka.
Types of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a bark extract and comes in several different types. These include Cinnamomum Zeylanicum and Ceylon Cassia.
Cinnamomum Zeylanicum is called "true" cinnamon or Ceylon. The majority of it is grown in Sri Lanka and it is easy to find in stores.
Cassia or Cinnamomum Cassia is referred to as Chinese cinnamon. This type of cinnamon is most commonly used in the U.S and Canada.
Saigon cinnamon has a stronger, spicier flavour, but it comes with a hint of sweetness as well.
Indonesian cinnamon or Cinnamomum Burmannii is the cheapest form of the spice.
In recent years, cinnamon has become increasingly popular as a health aid and studies have shown that the spice has a wealth of health benefits.
Some of the Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Several studies have indicated that cinnamon can be an effective means of balancing the blood sugars and lowering the need for insulin. Cinnamon can be sprinkled onto a breakfast cereal such as porridge to keep the blood sugars on an even keel throughout the morning. However, diabetics should take medical advice before supplementing their diet with the spice.
Cinnamon is believed to fight cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol levels, thus preventing cholesterol from clogging the arteries.
Many spices have anti-bacterial effects and cinnamon is no exception. Adding cinnamon oil to a cloth can be an effective cleaner for kitchen work tops, taps and door handles.
When applied in the form of a massage lotion, cinnamon is known to boost the circulation and aid muscle relaxation, which will help prevent muscle pain. Cinnamon is also and effective anti-inflammatory, helping to ease aching muscles.
Cinnamon has been shown to have anti-oxidant qualities. Anti-oxidants help counter free radicals, which are believed to lead to the development of diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
The spice is an effective remedy for helping reduce the symptoms of a cold. It should be taken at the early stages of a cold or at the first onset of a sore throat.
Cinnamon might not prevent a cold or a sore throat, but it can help to lessen the symptoms and shorten the life span of these minor ailments.
The anti-inflammatory effects of cinnamon mean that it can be used to ease the discomfort caused by arthritis. This is most effective when applied in the form of a cream or an essential oil; the oil should be blended with a base oil such as vitamin E before applying to the skin.
Studies have shown that the Cinnamomum Zeylanicum form of cinnamon has a positive effect on blood pressure, helping to lower it. This form of cinnamon has also shown promise in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease. However, the studies that have been carried out so far have been limited and inconclusive.
Intense exercise can cause inflammation in the muscles and joints, leading to tight, sore muscles. Due to its anti-inflammatory action, cinnamon can be used to help prevent after exercise soreness. If using cinnamon for this reason, then it is best applied as a muscle rub or lotion; it is more effective when used alongside ginger.
Fatty Liver Disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common type of liver injury. One important method of controlling this disease is by reducing oxidative stress and insulin resistance. A recently published study has shown that cinnamon has the promise of being a treatment for this form of liver disease.
While cinnamon is considered safe for most people, a recent health scare was triggered when "The Cinnamon Challenge" started to go viral on the Internet. People filmed themselves inhaling cinnamon; experts expressed concerns that this could lead to people choking.
Inhaling cinnamon can cause also cause vomiting and it is damaging to the lungs.
The spice should only be used in small amounts as it contains an ingredient that could be damaging to the liver. As ever, anyone with an underlying medical condition or pregnant women should take advice before supplementing their diet.
How to Use Cinnamon
Cinnamon is great for adding some flavour to oatmeal or porridge. It is also good for blending into soups or stews and can be added to recipes such as Moussaka.
In addition, cinnamon can be added to sweet recipes such as cookies, cakes and bread and butter pudding. It even has a myriad of uses for around the home.