A powder from the curled bark of the Cinnamon tree, called quills, is a common household spice worldwide. Cinnamomum spp. is a tropical tree that can grow to be larger than 50 feet tall in its natural state, however cultivated cinnamon is pruned to encourage new shoots to maximize the accessibility and harvest of the bark. As a member of the Lauraceae family, cinnamon is related to the aromatic Laurus nobilis, commonly known as bay leaf, and Sassafras. Due to some similarities in constituents and aroma, Sassafras is sometimes substituted for cinnamon as a spice. Interestingly, avocado (Persea americana) is also a member of the Lauraceae family. There are currently 9 species within the Cinnamomum genus (taxonomy is ever-changing), and Ceylon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), Indonesian (Cinnamomum burmanii), and Chinese cassia (Cinnamomum cassia) are the species most commonly found in commerce. The term “cassia” is confusing because any species of cinnamon that is not Cinnamomum zeylanicum, known as “true” cinnamon, is referred to as cassia. However, there are varieties known as ‘cassia’ that have very high levels of coumarin, such as Chinese cassia, and some varieties sold as ‘cassia’ that tend to have lower levels of coumarin, such as Indonesian cinnamon. Verifying cinnamon species can be complex, since it has been found in the past that species of cinnamon in the marketplace can be mixed in the supply chain. Testing cinnamon for coumarin content is one way to ensure that one does not use cinnamon that may have been adulterated undesirable with varieties.
TRADITIONAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF
Digestive Support, Glycemic Support, Heart Support
WHAT IT IS USED FOR?
For as many culinary uses that exist for Cinnamon, there are an equal amount of medicinal uses. Western herbalism, Middle Eastern herbalism, Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and Ayurvedic medicine employ Cinnamon for similar purposes. Uses include supporting digestion, blood function, glycemic response, immune response, and menstruation. In TCM, Cinnamon bark is said to tonify the kidney yang, dispel cold, warm and support abdominal organs, and encourage Qi and blood. Cinnamon bark contains a unique mixture of different constituents, allowing it a niche position in herbal formulations. As a mucilage containing herb, cinnamon can be used as a demulcent to sooth the GI tract, and as a tannin containing herb, it can help to astringe and tone the tissues of the GI tract. These actions paired with the warming volatile oils that stimulate blood flow to the digestive lining, deliver a balanced and diffusive action that can be supportive for digestive organs and for cold, stagnant, ‘kapha’ constitutions and conditions. Modern research has demonstrated that cinnamon supplementation can be helpful in supporting healthy blood pressure and cholesterol in healthy adults. In another study on healthy adults that showed cinnamon tea consumption to support healthy blood glucose levels, an analysis of the tea also showed it to have appreciable antioxidant content. Cinnamon supplementation has also been shown to support a normal and healthy menstrual cycle without side effects when compared to placebo.
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