Cinnamon

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Cinnamon
Cinnamon
Cinnamon
Cinnamon
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Cinnamon

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Obtained from the inner bark of a tree native to South East Asia. Not to be confused with cassia

Culinary Uses

Flavour: fragrant, sweet, warm, uplifting.

One of the most widely used of all spices: curry; apple pie, doughnuts, cinnamon buns, fruit compote, cakes. Mulled wine and other beverages. With chocolate in Mexico. Lamb tagine (Morocco). Khorak (Iran). Boiled sweets. Herbal teas. Incense. Chewing gum. In pickling spice (whole bark).

Cinnamon toast. Toast, butter, margarine or oil (olive, hemp of flax), honey. Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Baharat: a very hot blend used to spice meat and vegetables on the Arabian Peninsula. Grind the following together and store in an airtight jar. Will keep for 6 months. Half a nutmeg, 25g black peppercorns, 25g coriander seeds, 25g cumin seeds, 25g cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, seeds from 6 green cardamoms, 50g paprika and 15g hot chilli! A little of the blend can be fried in butter before adding other ingredients; it can be added at the end of the dish like garam masala, used as a rub before cooking with meat or fish, or sprinkled around as a condiment.

Food Preservation. Historically it was recognised that cinnamon along with ginger and other spices could extend the life of food and mask the signs of decay. This was particularly important in hot countries before the advent of refrigeration.

A few drops of cinnamon essential oil were added to 100 ml of carrot broth, which was then refrigerated, inhibited the growth of the foodborne pathogenic Bacillus cereus for at least 60 days. When the broth was refrigerated without the addition of cinnamon oil, the pathogenic B. cereus flourished despite the cold temperature. In addition, researchers noted that the addition of cinnamon not only acted as an effective preservative but improved the flavor of the broth. International Journal of Food Microbiology, August 2003

Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.

Cinnamon was one of the herbs used in the preparation of mummies in ancient Egypt.

Nutrition: A notable source of flavonoids (8%), manganese, iron, calcium and dietary fibre. I teaspoon of ground cinnamon contains around 5 calories. Around 4% of cinnamon is valuable volatile oil.

Medicine

Cinnamon has a long history of medicinal use, apart from its ability to flavour unpleasant tasting medicines such as cough mixture. Commercial preparations are often made from very strong extracts of cinnamon, where the known active principles are concentrated down and the inert woody ballast removed.

In Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine cinnamon is believed to have a warming and stimulating effect on the body.

In western herbal medicine cinnamon was used either alone or in combination to treat colds and ‘flu; toothache, diarrhoea, halitosis and to raise ‘digestive fire.’

Cinnamon is also of interest to modern scientific medicine.

Diabetes:

‘Can you explain how the everyday spice cinnamon might help diabetics control their symptoms? I have come across several references to this and wondered what you made of it.       J Lowther, Birmingham                                                                                     

This research applies only to type 2 ( non-insulin-dependent ) diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you should only introduce natural remedies under proper medical supervision: do not aim to treat yourself.

That said, cinnamon looks promising. New research by scientists at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Centre, in America, suggests that doses as low as 1g ( roughly ½ tsp ) can have a significant impact on glucose metabolism, helping to lower both insulin and blood cholesterol levels.

The latter is important because type 2 diabetics are up to four times more likely to develop heart disease than age matched non-diabetics.

We need more research to ascertain why cinnamon is having this beneficial effect, and how, according to the study, this effect could still be seen almost three weeks after the trial ended. In other words, participating patients had stopped taking their daily dose of cinnamon, yet their cholesterol and insulin levels remained low.’

                                                                                             Susan Clark    What’s the Alternative  Sunday Times  February 6th 2005

Both test tube and animal studies have shown that compounds in cinnamon not only stimulate insulin receptors, but also inhibit an enzyme that inactivates them, thus significantly increasing the cells ability to use glucose.

One study looked at the effect of cinnamon on 60 patients with type II diabetes, and found that there was a significant reduction (18-29%) of mean fasting serum glucose after 40 days of administration of either 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon per day. The study also showed significant reductions in triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, with no significant change in HDL (good) cholesterol. Cessation of therapy resulted in a return to previous levels.

No reductions were reported in the placebo group. A more recent study found that fasting blood glucose levels were reduced by an average of 10% in patients taking cinnamon extract 3 times a day for 4 months.

Cinnamon may also help reduce or slow the progression of the various complications of diabetes due to its potent antioxidant properties.

Digestion: Historically cinnamon has been used to support the digestion, and may be of particular value for people with gastrointestinal problems such as IBS, candida, dysbiosis, abdominal cramps and indigestion. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia approves cinnamon for treating: flatulent dyspepsia, flatulent colic and diarrhoea, and regards it as a specific in the treatment of colic or dyspepsia with flatulent distension and nausea.

 

Candida: The volatile oils in cinnamon are strongly antispasmodic. They also kill a variety of pathogens. Cinnamon has been studied for its ability to help stop the growth of bacteria as well as fungi, including the commonly problematic yeast Candida Albicans. In lab tests, the growth of yeasts that were resistant to the commonly used antifungal medication, fluconazole, was often (though not aways) stopped by cinnamon extracts. Other studies found that cinnamaldehyde was effective in killing 4 species of candida and a variety of bacterial pathogens, and does not appear to significantly impact on (good) probiotic organisms found the intestinal tract.

Cinnamon also has a reputation as an insect repellent. Cinnamon stored near linen can keep moths away.

Antioxidant: Cinnamon is so powerful and antioxidant, that when compared to six other antioxidant spices (anise, ginger, liquorice, mint, nutmeg and vanilla) and two chemical food preservatives , cinnamon prevented oxidation more effectively than all the other spices ( except mint ) and the chemical antioxidants. Cinnamon was found to be more effective at scavenging superoxide and hydroxyl radicals than vitamin E.

Circulation and Inflammation: Cinnamaldehyde has been well researched for its effects on blood platelets. Platelets are constituents of blood that clump together under emergency circumstances (like physical injury) as a way to stop bleeding. However in some people inappropriate aggregation of platelets results in inadequate blood flow and increases risk of thrombotic events (heart attack, DVT etc.). The Cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon helps prevent aggregation of blood platelets by inhibiting the release of arachidonic acid from platelet membranes and thereby reducing the formation of an inflammatory messaging molecule called thromboxane A2.

Aphrodisiac

Cinnamon was valued all over medieval Europe as an aphrodisiac, and was often included in love charms.

‘Upon inhalation, the oil is reported to act as a sexual stimulant to the female’. Hygeieia, A Woman’s Herbal, Wildwoood House 1979

Aphrodisiac wine: 30g vanilla, 30g cinnamon, 30g ginseng and 30g rhubarb in 1 litre of Malaga wine or mature Chablis!                                                               J Valnet. The Practice of Aromatherapy 1982.

Sensual massage blend: rose, jasmine, neroli, cinnamon, coriander in coconut oil.

Proverbs 7:17. The lover’s bed is perfumed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.

Attar (perfumed unguent) of cinnamon was said to have been used by Queen of Sheba in her seduction of King Solomon in 950 B.C.

Essential Oil

Up to 4% of a cinnamon stick is essential oil. The oil is produced by distilling macerated dried inner bark (cinnamon bark oil) or the leaves and twigs (cinnamon leaf oil).

The leaf oil smells strongly of cinnamon and is relatively non-toxic, but should not be used directly on the skin. The bark oil also smells strongly of cinnamon, but is considered a powerful dermal irritant. Cinnamon leaf oil is more widely used.

Skincare: dilute in carrier oil before use, or add a little (5 drops) to bath water. May help dispel lice, scabies and warts. Can be added very dilute to mouthwash.

Massage: add to carrier (almond or coconut oils are good), and massage to enhance blood circulation, or carefully apply to rheumatic areas. It blends well for this with ginger, black pepper, and juniper.

Vaporise in a room to dispel colds, enhance breathing, raise mood, treat nervous exhaustion, and add a warm stimulating ‘ting’ to the air.

Actions: anthelmintic, antidiarrhoeal, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiputrescent, aphrodisiac, astringent, carminative, digestive, emmenagogue, haemostatic, aperitive, parasiticide, refrigerant, stimulant, stomachic, vermifuge.

Both kinds of oil are used in toothpastes, mouthwashes and cough syrups. The leaf oil is used in soaps, cosmetics, toiletries and perfumes. Both are used in the flavouring of foods and drinks, including coca cola.

Cinnamon has a reputation as an insect repellent. Cinnamon leaf oil has been shown to kill mosquito larvae

Cultivation: The trees are coppiced after two years after which about a dozen shoots sprout from the roots. These stems are harvested by stripping off the outer bark and carefully prising away the inner bark. The outer bark is unsuitable for use and the inner bark is cut to size and allowed to dry into the well-known curled ‘quill’ shape. Sri Lanka still produces 90% of the world’s cinnamon.

History

Use recorded in Egypt since 2000 BC.

Exodus 30:22-25. Moses is commanded to use both sweet cinnamon and cassia in the holy anointing oil.

Song of Solomon 4:11-14. Cinnamon scents her garments like the smell of Lebanon.

Cinnamon’s origin was a mystery in Europe until the sixteenth century. The middlemen who handled the spice trade were able to conceal the true source (Sri Lanka) for centuries.

Pliny the Elder (1st century Ad) wrote of 350 grams of cinnamon as being equal in value to over five kilograms of silver.

Portuguese explorers arrived inSri Lanka, established a fort on the island in 1518 and protected theircinnamon monopoly for over a hundred years. By 1658 the Dutch had control of the trade and one captain said ‘when one is downwind of the island, one can still smell cinnamon eight leagues out to sea.’

The British took control of the island from the Dutch in 1796 by which time cinnamon had been widely planted elsewhere.

Ground cinnamon, Sri Lanka 50g £1.20, 200g £3.95. Best before May 2013

Cinnamon sticks, 6 inch 40p each, 10 for £3.50

Solgar Cinnamon Capsules 100 capsules £12.15

Per capsule: cinnamon extract 4:1 300mg; raw cinnamon powder 200mg; vegetable magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide(anti-caking agents); cellulose gum. Vegetable capsule shell. Suitable for vegans. Best before June 2013.

Dosage: 1 capsule daily, preferably at mealtime, or as directed by a healthcare professional.

Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil 10ml £4.95

 

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