Cinnamon* (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is a well recognised spice, and one of the oldest spices. It is one of the seasonings in “Five Spice Powder”, together with anise, star anise, cloves and fennel seeds. In the Western world cinnamon features strongly in the colder months, especially at Christmas when it is added to mulled wine, Christmas cakes, mincemeat in mince pies and many other seasonal delicacies. What benefits and effects on health does Cinnamon have?
Cinnamon is the inner bark obtained from several tree species with the genus Cinnamomum. The aroma and flavour of cinnamon is derived from the essential oil and principal components of cinnamaldehyde and eugenol. It is the constituents and properties of any herb or spice that act on the body and mind. In the case of Cinnamon the actions are warming with the ability to dispel cold from the body. Through this warming effect Cinnamon raises vitality, stimulates circulation and clears congestion. In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) it is used to treat an array of problems due to Coldness, such as deficient Kidney Yang - symptoms of cold limbs, weak back, impotence, frequent urination and fear of cold, as well as deficient Spleen with symptoms of poor digestion, cold abdominal pain, gas, spasms, reduced appetite and diarrhoea. It warms and unblocks channels alleviating Coldness that stagnates Qi (energy) or Blood, leading to pain, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, arthritis, rheumatism, abscesses and sores that don’t heal.
In Ayurvedic medicine (traditional Indian medicine) Cinnamon is used in a similar way to TCM in combination with Cardamom and Bay to promote digestion and help with nutrient absorption. It also clears toxins from the gut.
Cinnamon whilst being warming is also an immune stimulant, anti depressant and nervine. Using Cinnamon at this time of year when the immune system is more likely to be under attack from seasonal flus and viruses, will also strengthen immune response and deflect viruses. When the days are short and nights long we want to hide away and it is at this time that we are more likely to feel “down”. Adding Cinnamon to foods – stews, porridge, breads, biscuits and cakes, using essential oil of Cinnamon in a diffuser together with other oils such as Wild Orange, Cardamom, Thyme and Black Pepper will help bring that Christmas cheer and all round strength when combined with appropriate warm clothing, getting fresh air daily and eating a seasonal diet of root vegetables in hearty stews, curries and casseroles will ensure you sail through the winter season with festive joy and energy.
Wishing you a spice filled Christmas and a healthy, energetic and joyous winter. Happy Christmas.
* If pregnant or breastfeeding avoid large doses.
Healing with the Herbs of Life, Lesley Tierra L.Ac., Herbalist, A.H.G