Cinnamon or Cinnamomum verum, is an evergreen tree. The bark of the tree is commonly used and referred to as cinnamon. It is native to the Lauraceae family, in Sri Lanka. An increasing awareness towards the health benefits of cinnamon has spotlighted the spice across the globe.
The name 'cinnamon' is Phoenician. The tree is popular for its distinct fragrance. The bark of the tree has always enjoyed an unparalleled demand due to its essential oil, that is aromatic and a great flavoring agent. The bark is either used in pieces or powdered, or in a number of cuisines.
The oil is extracted by pounding the bark, macerating it, and finally distilling the essence. It has a characteristic odor and a pungent taste. The taste and scent are the result of cinnamaldehyde aging in the presence of oxygen.
The chemical components within this spice include eugenol, ethyl cinnamate, methyl chavicol, linalool, cinnamaldehyde, and beta-caryophyllene.
It is also referred to as, karugapatta, pattai, lavanga pattai, kayu manis, cassia vera, kurundu, Korunda, tvak, dārusitā, dalchini, and qerfa.
This small tree thrives in India, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Indonesia, and Vietnam. It is an ancient spice, originally prepared by drying the bark of the tree, and rolling it into sticks or quills. The Cassia type is darker and harder than Ceylon variety.
Other than its usage in cooking (for flavor), it is also credited with a number of health benefits. Some of them include:
The Cassia type is used as a home remedy to cure colds, nausea, and diarrhea. Its variety is also believed to increase energy levels and blood circulation.
It is included in Ayurveda remedies for the cure of diabetes, common cold, and indigestion. The powder is used to make herbal tea.
It lowers cholesterol and triglycerides or the fatty acids present in blood.
Research reveals that the spice is very effective in the marketed pill form, with each pill equivalent to 1 teaspoon of its powder. The pills have proven effective in reducing fasting blood glucose.
It is believed to have antifungal and antibacterial properties, and is used extensively in the cure of Candida albicans fungus and Helicobacter pylori bacteria. The latter are primarily responsible for stomach ulcers.
Cassia naturally contains coumarin, a compound that has a blood-thinning effect. This helps as an anti-clotting medication, for people with bleeding disorders.
Concentrated cinnamon oil is used as an aromatherapy essential oil. The soothing effect and lingering aroma helps to calm frayed nerves and relax.
The spice is also credited with anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to cure inflammation of internal tissues, due to consumption of fried and processed foods. It is used in anti-inflammatory diets to reduce heart attacks, strokes, atherosclerosis, and coronary diseases. This helps to keep heart disease at bay.
It is rich in iron, manganese, calcium, and fiber. The combination helps to reduce and eliminate bile, and subsequently prevents any damage to the colon cells or the onset of colon cancer. It also helps relieve irritable bowel syndrome.
The latest claim highlights, that merely smelling cinnamon acts as a memory booster. It is believed to improve memory and the performance levels for certain tasks.
The bark of the spice is used as a condiment. It is extensively used in the preparation of desserts such as chocolates and pies, as well as savory dishes of lamb and chicken. As an additive, it acts as an antioxidant and helps in the preservation of food.
It has been traditionally used for ages to treat toothaches, due to tooth decay and bad breath.
Being a versatile spice, it can be put to a variety of uses. It is even chewed directly, to help digestion. Freely available, the spice has a special place in every home and cuisine. Coupled with the various medicinal properties that it is credited with, cinnamon is a much sought after condiment, and for all the right purposes.
Disclaimer: This story is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.