Age-old uses of cinnamon, as a culinary as well as medicinal accoutrement, are absolutely overwhelming and world renowned.
This astounding natural element brings numerous health benefits along with it. A step by step description process can provide a clear picture about the various important and multidimensional aspects of cinnamon; for example, its origin, ingredients, healing properties, how does it work, ways of using, how to use as part of home remedy, health benefits and its side effects.
Surprisingly, cinnamon does not come from the flowers, seeds, leaves or stems of the plant; instead, it is the dried inner bark of the cinnamon tree, which is an evergreen tree. Cinnamon trees were primarily cultivated and used in Asian countries in the beginning; but now, the geographical boundaries do not restrict its consumption, and many countries across the world are producing and consuming this herb.
Cinnamon bark is also known as Madagascar cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon, Saigon Cassia, Cannelle de Ceylan, Sri Lanka Cinnamon, Laurus cinnamomum, Panang Cinnamon etc.
The main ingredients or comprising substances are present in the cinnamon essential oil, which is found in the bark of the tree. After thorough analysis of the herb, researchers pointed out at three basic elements – cinnamaldehyde, eugenol and linalool and referred them as cures for many health complications. Cinnamaldehyde, also known as cinnamic aldehyde, comprises 75 percent of cinnamon oil. 10 percent of the essential oil is composed of eugenol.
Years of medical research has helped to unveil the various beneficial properties of the above mentioned ingredients of cinnamon. Antibacterial, antiviral and antimicrobial properties and anti-cancer effects of cinnamaldehyde are very famous in the medical world. According to a study published in the Jan 15 2009 issue of ” Free Radical Biology and & Medicine”, a group of researchers in Arizona Cancer Centre in Tucson found that cinnamaldehyde helped to prevent the spread of cancerous cells and tumour growth in human melanoma culture samples. Eugenol is well-known for its analgesic and antiseptic properties.
The use of ground or whole cinnamon in foods is very traditional and widely recognized across the globe. People use this as a spice to enhance the flavour, aroma of the food and to give it an earthy and mildly sweet touch. This herb is an integral part of the Middle Eastern Cuisine.
(b) Health & Beauty Products
It is used in mouth freshener products, perfumes, hair rinse and toothpastes to freshen breathe. It is also used in massage oils. It is said that continued use of cinnamon helps to improve skin complexion.
(c) Room Freshener
A mixture of small amount of cinnamon essential oil and water can be used as room spray or to repel germ and odour.
(d) Medicinal Use
It goes without saying that the medicinal properties of this herb make it a precious resource to the medical industry and can be better understood in the next section.
(a) Anti-Clotting Action
By preventing the release of arachidonic acid and reducing the formation of thromboxane, an inflammatory messaging molecule, cinnamaldehyde helps to inhibit blood clotting.
(b) Anti-Microbial Property
The anti-microbial property of this herb is clinically proved to stop growth of bacteria and fungi. According to a study published in the August 2003 issue of ”International Journal of Food Microbiology”, addition of few drops of cinnamon essential oil to carrot broth helped to prevent the formation of foodborne pathogenic Bacillus cereus for at least 60 days.
(c) Controls Blood Sugar
Research result showed that cinnamon helped to reduce the rise in blood sugar after eating carb food.
(d) Improves Brain Function
Another 2004 study led by Dr. P. Zoladz showed that the scent of this herb helped to improve patient’s cognitive process such as attention process, working memory and virtual memory while using a computer.
(e) Improves Heart Health
Besides, the combination of fiber and calcium in cinnamon helps to break down cholesterol and improve heart health.
Many people prepare a mixture of honey and cinnamon to use as a natural remedy for treating hair loss, insect bites and indigestion. 2 cups of water, a small stick of cinnamon and few cloves can be boiled together for about 3 minutes. After that, 2 tsp. of lemon juice, 1-/12 tbsp. of dark honey, 2 tbsp. of good quality of whiskey can be added to the liquid and consumed later to cure colds and flues in home.
Few recent studies have found that cinnamon derived from Cassia plant contains Coumarin, a toxic compound which has an ability to cause liver and kidney damage. Pregnant women and patients, who are taking medicines for controlling blood sugar, should take medical advice before consuming cinnamon supplements to avoid adversity.