Dosage and Duration
Cinnamon is safe to be taken long term. To stop secretions is should be used three times a day.
Powdered cinnamon bark: one teaspoon in one cup boiling water.
Tincture 1:5 : one teaspoon (5ml)
Fact Sheet 1
Scientific Name: Cinnamomum zeylanicum
Part Used: Bark
In a word: All-in-one Pharmacy Plant
Uses: Digestive, circulation, blood deficiencies, fever, pain killer, infection fighter
Cinnamon was one of the first trade spices of the ancient world. Biblical references indicate that merchants carried the Asian spice all the way from Ceylon to Palestine – that’s a 24-hour airplane trip today – before the pyramids were built. The English word cinnamon derives from the Hebrew word kannamon, and the spice is mentioned in Psalms, Proverbs, Ezekiel, and Revelations. Moses, the patriarch of patriarchs, commanded the children of Israel to anoint the tabernacle, the vessels of the tabernacle, and the priests themselves with ointments made of cinnamon. Let’s remember that the stuff was hauled from beyond India without the help of jet engines, and the Phoenicians and Arabians who hauled it weren’t working for peanuts. Why did Moses specify cinnamon and others pay the price it cost? Because it was, and still is, special. There is something about cinnamon that made it worth any expense.
Moses was not cinnamon’s first admirer, and many others were to follow, agreeing that it was the superlative body splash and more. The ancients Theophrastus, Herodotus, Galen, Dioscorides, Pliny, and Strabo all mention it. Cinnamon ranked in value with gold, ivory, and frankincense, and was among the most costly offerings in the temple of Apollo in Miletus in 243 BC The early Egyptians used cinnamon in their embalming mixtures, and Chinese medicinal use of the spice dates back 4,700 years.
The Arabians discovered that when you boil out the oils contained in a plant, those oils purvey the scent of said plant, be it roses or cinnamon, and so they imported cinnamon from the Orient, distilled the fragrant oil out, and sold the more easily transported substance to the Europeans. In this form, the spice made its way from Arabia to Venice, and from Venice to all points in Europe. If cinnamon sticks were special, cinnamon oil was considered a bonus deluxe.
Cinnamon is the bark and twigs of a number of related plants that have one thing in common: cinnamon oil. The plant rarely reaches higher than 30 feet; the leaves are deep green and the blossoms usually white. Once the trees are six or seven years old, the bark is peeled off into so-called cinnamon sticks. Ground into powder, they yield what we find in cans on the grocer’s shelf. Aside from a great tasting dusting for doughnuts, we don’t see cinnamon as being very special any more. This is unfortunate.
Cinnamon is one of the oldest tonic plants on the globe. The world may not agree politically, but in the realm of tonics, all acknowledge that cinnamon is good for health. The Chinese feel that cinnamon used on a daily basis over a long period of time will improve the complexion, giving the taker a more robust, stronger, and more youthful appearance. One Chinese ancient said that if you took cinnamon with toads’ brains for seven years, you would be able to walk on water, look young forever, and never die. While you may have a problem getting your hands on a pound of toads’ brains, the active ingredient, cinnamon, is readily available.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and behind most folk tales, there’s some measure of truth. The daily use of cinnamon could well improve your health. The Chinese believe that cinnamon heats up a cold body, improves the circulation, and generally gets the blood rushing around, stoking up the waning fire, if you will, and they prescribe it for loss of vigour, whether due to stress, ageing, or illness. They believe the spice warms the kidneys and cures impotence, weak legs, and backache. Specifically, cinnamon is held supreme for blood deficiencies that leave one feeling weak.
In India, cinnamon is used to flavour sweet treats, but every villager also knows that chewing on the cinnamon stick is a powerful treatment for the monthlies. The spice, which stimulates the uterine muscles, is also used in difficult deliveries due to inadequate contractions. A painkiller as well as a uterine stimulant, cinnamon is essentially the herbal equivalent of many over-the-counter menstrual medications. The Chinese, who along with other Asians use it as a treatment for PMS, agree that cinnamon promotes regular and easy menstruation.
Did you ever notice that after eating a cinnamon-powdered doughnut you couldn’t help but love the whole world? And you thought it was your blood sugar reaching an acceptable level! Cinnamon has been used as a tranquilliser since before Western civilisation became civilised (that is to say if it ever did). The source of this sedative effect is the cinnamaldehyde contained in cinnamon powder and, more powerfully, in cinnamon oil, which has been proven to tranquillise both animals and human beings. In some interesting Chinese research, scientists discovered that they were able to neutralise the effects of phenobarbital and methamphetamine in mice with a matching dose of cinnamaldehyde. The same chemical was found to relieve pain in mice. Since overcharged nerves do present a threat to life and, as they say, stress kills, a hot cup of relaxing cinnamon tea may be just what the herbalist ordered. The folk treatment for bronchial asthma in various parts of Asia, this same cinnamon tea has been found by researchers to stop most sufferers’ attacks. More and more, asthma is being linked to emotional upset, and the calming nature of the substance may be at the root of this cure.
In days gone by and even today, a high fever can be the end of you – if nothing else, elevated body temperature can make you feel out of whack. One of the Chinese treatments for fever is a dose of cinnamon, and indeed, research has shown that after being injected with salmonella and typhoid, mice, the poor creatures, had a reduction in temperature when treated with cinnamaldehyde. This may be due to cinnamon’s ability to open up the blood vessels. Scientific validation aside, the news to you is that if you have a fever, cinnamon is likely to reduce it.
The world we live in is filled with disease. Let’s face it, everywhere you look you see people sneezing and coughing, and usually on you. When you only get two weeks off a year, who wants to spend that precious time in bed watching reruns? The main folk use of cinnamon has been fighting infection, and following the custom of taking it after exposure to an illness in the aim of not getting sick yourself might not be a bad idea.
Here are some facts, not theories, facts. Cinnamon oil has exhibited antifungal, antiviral, bactericidal, and larvicidal activities. Specifically, ingredients in cinnamon kill escherichia coli, staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, the Asian flu virus A, and echo virus. What does this mean? These are all nasty bacteria that can make you exceptionally ill. Salmonella causes food poisoning, escherichia coli causes Montezuma’s revenge, and staphylococcus aureus causes lesions, pustules, and boils that can be terminal if they spread to the organs. Not a pretty picture, but the good news is that cinnamon has been proven to suppress their growth, and the growth of several other gram-positive bacteria. Not surprisingly, the folk belief that cinnamon can stop bacteria, fungus, and viruses from attacking food or persons is absolutely true. From now on, whenever you come in contact with snot-nosed children harbouring all of the above, have yourself a cup of hot cinnamon tea.
Could there be more from this all-in-one pharmacy plant? Yes. “For pe stomak. Dis driep vp pe ille humoure of pe stomak, and hit comfortep it and strength it.” A Middle English translation of a famous Latin herbal called Macer Floridus de viribus herbarum, written somewhere around the ninth century, asserts in its easy-to-read style that cinnamon gets rid of bad things that hang out in the stomach, calms it down, and makes it stronger. As a stomach remedy, cinnamon hails supreme, and Macer’s claim is actually quite in keeping with the research done of late. If your stomach is upset by a bug of sorts, cinnamon will kill it (the bug). If your stomach is all in a knot, cinnamon will relax it. People in the ninth century knew more about cinnamon than we do! And we think of ourselves as so worldly.
You know where to get cinnamon. The plant isn’t grown much in the United States, although several locales would suit it fine. A hot-weather plant, it would have to be grown in a greenhouse or in the sunnier parts of the country. Though the plant isn’t especially appropriate for the garden, ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks are easy to find in any grocery or health food store. An herbal hint – the best cinnamon comes from the Chinese pharmacist. The extra-good news is that unlike many of our tonic plants, this one actually tastes nice and adds a pleasant flavour to a home-made cure-all.
History: One of the oldest tonic plants in history
Science: contains cinnamaldehyde, a proven tranquilizer
Practitioners’ opinion: A great tonic for that run down feeling
Directions: Diarrhea / Stomach Upset: Tincture (1:5,45% alcohol) 5ml 3 times daily
Tea: 4 cinnamon sticks or 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, added to 2 cups of boiling water. Leave for 10 minutes, then sweeten to taste.
Fact Sheet 2
Part Used: Bark
Remember this : Secretion Stopper.
Reasonable uses : general tonic, excessive menstrual bleeding, heavy menstrual bleeds of menopause, gum bleeding, excessive mucous production(digestive, respiratory, urinary), diarrhea, food poisoning, digestive flu, digestive upset while traveling abroad.
History and Traditional Uses
For the Asians, cinnamon is a native plant and one they have used for a long time. The Chinese have been pulling the bark of this moderately sized tree and using it medicinally for 4,700 years! Today, it is still one of the most commonly used herbs in China. Chinese herbalists believe that the daily use of cinnamon makes one look and feel younger. It is seen as one of the best vitality stimulating herbal medicines available.
It history does not stop in Asia. It was hauled from Sri Lanka to Israel in Moses’s day for use in the Temple in Jerusalem! That was just the beginning of western cinnamon use! In the last century cinnamon was used by doctors to stop uterine bleeding after child birth, during menstruation, and after miscarriage. Doctors found it stoppped secretion, whethre blood from the uterus or mucous from the nose.
Scientific back up
Cinnamon contains a wild cocktail of health stimulating compounds including tannins, essential oils, and saponins. These compounds work in unison to improve general health, explaining its reputation of being a longevity plant.
Cinnamon is famous for being able to dry secretions, menstrual bleeding, excessive mucous production, and diarrhea included. This is due to the essential oil which gives cinnamon its characteristic smell and the tannins which give it its characteristic color. Both stop secretions flowing. A cup of cinnamon tea will reduce menstrual blood flow!
Long used to treat diarrhea and other digestive dramas caused by micro-critters, Cinnamon bark contains an oily chemical called cinnamaldehyde that kills a variety of illness-causing bacteria, including the dreaded Escherichia coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus. Cinnamon clears the symptom of digestive upset, i.e. diarrhea, and the root of the problem!
Herbalists use it to….
Prevent travel illness
International business and leisure travel has become an everyday affair. Unfortunately, our digestive tracts do not respond positively to the unfamiliar bacteria encountered whilst abroad. Take a daily dose of cinnamon to avoid Montezuma’s revenge or Dehli Belly!
Stop diarhea before it stops you
When food poisoning hits, diarrhea can cause dangerous dehydration. To quickly dry up the flow, use cinnamon tea. Cinnamon is a natural astringent and will dry up your bowel very quickly.
Reduce Menstrual Bleeds
Cinnamon bark checks menstrual flooding. This can be used for the occasional heavy bleeding or when the problem is chronic. If it’s a chronic problem, plan ahead. Start using cinnamon the morning your period starts and keep using it until it has passed completely.
Reduce heavy menopausal bleeds
As a women’s reproductive years come to a close,
menstruation can become scanty or heavy. Often this
is a unpredictable affair. Cinnamon can be used to stop
those heavy flows that appear out of nowhere.
Dosage and Duration
Cinnamon is safe to be taken long term. To stop secretions is should be used three times a day.
Powdered cinnamon bark: one teaspoon in one cup boiling water.
Tincture 1:5 : one teaspoon (5ml)
Ground cinnamon is sold at supermarkets everywhere, and cinnamon tincture is available at health food stores.
Due to the stimulating oils it contains, it should not be used in medicinal amounts during pregnancy.
If diarrhea continues for more than two days see your health care practitioner.
If you experience bleeding between periods see your health care practitioner.
Chapter from Healing Plants of the Bible
Exodus 30:23 Take thou also unto three principal spices, of pure myrrh, five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels.
Proverbs 7:17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon .
Song 4:14 Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon , with all trees of frankincense
Revelations 18:13 and cinnamon , and odours, and ointments,and frankincense.
Here we have a biblical plant that has been unmistakeably identified. The Hebrew word for cinnamon is Kinamon, in fact the Israelites may have been the first people to call it by that name. The ancient Israelites loved cinnamon for its powerful fragrance and delicious taste. The culinary aspects of cinnamon are well known to modern people, the use as a perfume is a little distant. In the lines from Proverbs we see that it was also used as a fragrance, for the bed, and history reveals, for the body. If you are running short of perfume or cologne you might want to commune with the ancient Israelites and give yourself a shake of what could be taken for brown talcum powder. Or maybe not. The Israelites were familiar with cinnamon sticks, powdered cinnamon, and cinnamon oil. All of which was imported from Sri Lanka a very long time before the age of modern travel.
The ancient Hebrews considered the oil a fine fragrance and, like cassia, it was one of the principal ingredients in the holy oil used in worship. Moses commanded this oil to be used in the Tabernacle for anointing sacred vessels. It was used to anoint the Tent of Meeting, the sacred vessels in the tent, and in fact the Priest Aaron and his sons. We find it used early in biblical history in Exodus and later on in the second temple period. It was long used in temple worship, by the priests and as perfume for the Kings garments. We see this regal use in Psalms 45:9.
It was used not only by the righteous but also by the not so righteous. In Proverbs 7:17 we read that women with loose morals used cinnamon along with other fragrant spices to entice men into their beds. “I have besprinkled my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Do come, let us drink our love until the morning;do let us enjoy each other with love of expressions. For the husband is not in his house; he has gone travelling on a way of some distance”
The French pharmacopoeia defines cinnamon as follows. “dried bark, freed from the outer cork and from the underlying parenchyma, from the shoots growing on the cut stumps of Cinnamomum zeylanicum.” Cinnamon is nothing more than bark. The tree that produces cinnamon is smallish with evergreen leaves and either white or pink flowers. Though native to India , its cultivation spread to islands of the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia well before the biblical period. In the modern world most of the cinnamon we see comes from Sri Lanka .
In Sri Lanka , cinnamon trees are first felled. From the stumps spring shoots that in time will provide the farmer with cinnamon bark. When the shoots are five years old, they are stripped of their bark. The bark is then dried and sorted according to quality. Though the bark contains high amounts of the distinctive cinnamon oil, the entire plant produces fragrant oil.
When the bark is harvested, the leaves, smaller branches, fruits, and anything else remaining are put through a distilling process which removes the oil they contain. The result is cinnamon oil. The stems and leaves get tossed out and the oil is sold for perfume, incense, and medicine. Man has been distilling essential oils out of nice smelling plants for thousands of years. From the biblical references it appears the Israelites were familiar with cinnamon oil! It is thought to have been the first plant subjected to this refining process.
In the biblical days, cinnamon was imported by the Phoenicians and the Arabians, much like its less popular kissing cousin cassia. The islands in the Indian ocean were incredibly far from the spice markets in the Holy Land and you can bet that cinnamon was rare, expensive, and appreciated. The word precious comes to mind. Its hard for modern people to get their heads around the significance of plants mentioned in the Bible partly because times have changed. Today you can buy a bottle of cinnamon for half a dollar, in the biblical period, it was worth its weight in gold. Back then people did not casually shake the stuff on doughnuts. When you read about spices in the Bible, remember a handful cost about as much as your house.
Because people in the ancient world didn’t have access to the plant that produced cinnamon, they had all kinds of great ideas as to its origin. Some were more creative than others. Herodotus said, “The barke is the lining of clay nests built on tall granite mountains built by birds. Bacchus(the God of wine) was born near these mountains.” Oh, I don’t think so. A rabbi in the Talmud suggests that it was produced by a magical phoenix. A phoenix, by the by, was a huge mythical bird that lived for several centuries and then did a kamikaze routine on a pile of rocks. From the ashes of its self destruction the phoenix would spring again and start a new life cycle. The rabbi thought this bird made cinnamon when it was committing suicide. This is an equally absurd story line. But, the ancients only knew it dropped out of the saddle bags of the wisemen and the rest was left up to the imagination.
Aromatherapy, or the use of essential plant oils in healing, is becoming increasingly popular. It might pay to spend a little time talking about volatile oils or essential oils as they are sometimes called. You already know that the Israelites had access to two similar smelling spices, cinnamon and cassia. You should also know that the scents and tastes of these two spices are based on the volatile oils contained in them. Remember, volatile oils convey flavour to your taste buds and scent to the scent receptors in your nose. You also know that Cinnamon and cassia are related plants and produce a similar tasting and smelling bark. But the Israelites preferred cinnamon to cassia. What makes them different?
If you go out to your garden you will notice that some plants exude smells and others don’t. If you walk on a mint plant the smell of mint will float in the air and make contact with your nose. Plants that smell contain volatile oils. Volatile oils are responsible for making plants fragrant or aromatic. Volatile oils are different than cooking oils because, unlike cooking oils, which are stable, or fixed, volatile oils are volatile. They are not stable and have the ability to evaporate. This is the reason perfume eventually wears off and disappears from a sweater and cooking oil stays in fabric forever.
Mint smells like mint, and rosemary smells like rosemary. This seems a basic fact. But the reason they have different smells is that they contain different volatile oils. Mint contains a unique combination of volatile oils, a combination that is different than the composition of rosemary’s volatile oil. Many times plants contain similar volatile oils, but in different combinations, and this is enough to make them have different smells. As an example, cinnamon contains 80% cinnamaldehyde and 10 % eugenol, cassia contains 90% cinnamaldehyde and virtually no eugenol. The end result is that they have different smells. Different enough that the ancient Israelites paid much more for cinnamon than for cassia.
The essential oils found in scented plants are varied in their composition, incredibly active on the human body, and varied in their physiological action. Activity of the oils range from antiseptic, hormone mimicking, sedating, onto expectorant. Though cinnamon and cassia oils are both primarily made up of cinnamaldehyde, their differing minor components alter their action on the body. Its time to look at what the cinnamon can do for you.
Cinnamon is originally an Indian drug and we will start with the classic Indian use of it. “Indian Drugs and Plants”, written in 1908, said this of it, ” It possesses cordial, carminative, and astringent properties and is prescribed in dyspepsia, flatulency, diarrhoea, and vomiting, although frequently employed as an adjunct to bitter tonics, purgatives, and vegetable and mineral astringents. Powdered cinnamon in 20 grain doses is a reputed remedy given in dysentery.” Cinnamon is considered one of the oldest treatments for stomach upset still in use today. It has a sedating action on the gut, so much so, it was used with other medications that were notorious for upsetting the stomach.
The same book introduces cinnamon as a uterine stimulant. Another primary action is the activation of the uterus when it has become atonic or without tone. “As a stimulant of the uterine muscle fibre it is employed in menorrhagia, and in tedious labour due to defective uterine contractions. The essential oil is used in flavouring sweets and confections and as a powerful stimulant in amenorrhea, the bark chewed also gives much relief.”
The spice is used to check internal bleeding of all descriptions. Drugs that control bleeding are called haemostats and cinnamon is a substance long used to stop internal bleeding. Blood issuing from the digestive tract, respiratory tract, genito-urinary tract, and reproductive tract, were all treated with high doses of cinnamon. This knowledge of cinnamon’s activity passed from the Indians to the Europeans early on.
Maimonides gives us a window into the use of this botanical drug. ” Ceylon cinnamon is a medication that opens up the passageways of the stomach, and dissolves the liquids, and thins and dries all the foul smelling rusty secretions, secretions that would otherwise alter it and wound it. Because of its pleasant aroma, it is of value for all ailments that arise from bad liquids, it improves any putrefactive process, and counteracts every damaging force, and restores it to its rehabilitated state. In this manner it neutralizes the rusty secretions, the fat plant poisons, and the animal poisons.” Maimonides mentions rusty secretions which suggests internal bleeding. He was aware that the plant was of a drying nature and was able to stop the excessive secretion of the gastro-intestinal tract, whether that be blood or mucous.(bad liquids) Tannins, which are contained in abundance in cinnamon, have the ability to denature alkaloid poisons. Maimonides was well aware that it could be used to counteract poisonings. He treated patients with mental illness and royals, poisoning, self inflicted and that of the assassin, would have been an issue for this physician.
In Macer Floridus de Viribus Herbarum, a ninth century European herbal, we find that cinnamon was used on the continent to treat conditions similar to those treated in India . The writer gives us a nice summary of its uses.
1. “It is for the stomach, it dries up the ill humours of the stomach, comforts it, and strengthens it.”
2. “For bleeding and excessive production of mucous, grind well and small the best cinnamon,and two drams, of the powder drunken with cold water on an empty stomach will stop emissions from the body.”
Cinnamon’s use as a treatment for excessive uterine bleeding is one that even doctors in America subscribed to until very recently. Dr.Fyfe, writing in 1903, said this of it. “It is indicated in post-partum haemorrhage, haemorrhage threatening or following miscarriage. Specific cinnamon, an alcoholic solution of the oil, is an efficient remedy in post partum haemorrhage. Thirty drops should be given every fifteen minutes. Cinnamomum zeylanicum is tonic, stimulant, carminative and astringent.”
Another American physician, Dr.Locke, had similar experiences with the drug and mention this fact in his book written in 1901. “Cinnamon is astringent and stimulant. Its chief constituent is its essential oil. Though used as an aromatic its chief use is to control uterine haemorrhage. It acts promptly by contracting the bleeding vessels. Cinnamon is of considerable value in some forms of diarrhoea, or chalk and cinnamon water may be administered. The dose of powdered cinnamon is from ten to thirty grains; of the tincture one or two drachms; of cinnamon water from one to four drachms; of the oil, five drops.”
On the scientific side of life cinnamon is an active drug. Cinnamon bark contains volatile oils and tannins all of which work on the body. The main actions of the cinnamon are that of a digestive sedative and as a treatment for bleeding. The main ingredients in essential oil of cinnamon are cinnamaldehyde, 80%, eugenol,10% cinnamyl acetate 5%, and minor oils 5%. The volatile oils are antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-viral. Cinnamaldehyde has been proven to work as a sedative, active on the central nervous system and the digestive tract. Because it sedates the nerves serving the digestive tract, upsets of the stomach are soothed when it is administered.
The tannins or proanthocyanidins found in the plant are the bits that stop bleeding and excessive secretion of the mucous membranes. Proanthocyanidins specifically work on the blood vessels and have the ability to stop them leaking blood. Tannins are by nature drying and this makes it useful in everything from diarrhoea to nasal congestion. Remember, tannins are used to convert skin into leather, they toughen up tissue!
It interesting to hear what are modern practitioners of Herbal Medicine have to say about cinnamon and using it in Medicine. We have one practitioner from Lebanon , one from Wales , and one from Tibet . This offers us a world view.
Joseph Nasr our Lebanese herbalist said the following,
“Cinnamon is an imported spice that is used as a beverage. A teaspoon of cinnamon is added to boiling water and simmered for fifteen minutes. Honey is added, along with pine nuts, crushed almonds and walnuts, and raisins. This is eaten out of a cup with a spoon. It is used as a treatment coldness of the stomach, to warm the stomach. It is excellent in the winter to ward off the flu or common cold, when ever the body is cold people have a cup of this mixture to warm things up.”
Stuart Fitzsimmons, an herbalist of Cardiff , Wales had a different view of the drug. “Cinnamon is excellent in respiratory infections and in any condition that features a lot of mucous production. There is an old belief that heat melts solids or disperses solids, and in a respiratory infection the solid is mucous and the heat is the cinnamon. A strong cinnamon tea is excellent in a congested cold, sinus infections, glue ear, otitis media or inner ear infection, all upper respiratory tract infections with congestion. Cinnamon stimulates circulation to the periphery and warms cold hands and feet. The upper respirator tract doesn’t have the best circulation, and the increased circulation to the sinuses and ears may be why it helps to clear such infections.For both circulation problems and upper respiratory infections, a teaspoon of cinnamon added to a cup of hot water taken three times a day will be enough. It will also increase circulation to the penis if erections are a problem. Five drops of cinnamon oil added to 100 millilitre of olive oil, massaged into the penis, will help some men suffering from impotence.”
Dr.Christopher Hansard, a practitioner of Bon Tibetan Medicine, had yet another angle on the drug, “cinnamon is seen as being quite different than cassia, a distinction is made. It is imported from India and is used in three states, whole, broken,and powdered. It is used in psychiatric medicine, to increase bodily heat, and to sooth aches and pains. We use it infused in oil for massage into the skin, in incense to be burned and smelled, and we burn it directly on the skin a use known as moxa. On the psychological side it is use in depression, obsessive disorders, and fits of violent rage to calm a person down. It will warms the body up and helps it to expel illness. It is a good general tonic.”
Cinnamon is readily available, you probably have some in the spice rack as you read these lines. The plant can be summarized as being a warming and drying agent. All conditions with excessive secretion from the respiratory tract, digestive tract, reproductive tract, or urinary tract are improved with cinnamon tea. A half teaspoon in a cup of boiling water taken three times a day will be of much use when those secretory glands are out of control. It is a perfect herb when you have taken a chill and are in need of a little heat, sometimes you can stop a cold in its tracts if you start with the cinnamon early enough.
Chapter from Thirty Plants That Can Save Your Life
Cinnamon was one of the first spices to be traded around the ancient world. Cinnamon comes from Asia , and yet gets a big write up in the Bible, which means that they had access to the spice from far off lands well before the Bible got written down, some 2500 years ago. It is mentioned in Psalms, Proverbs, Ezekiel, Revelations. The English word cinnamon derives from the Hebrew word kinamon. Let’s be clear on the reality of the fact the ancient Israelites had cinnamon to use in the household. Cinnamon traveled from Ceylon to Palestine , a 24 hour airplane flight, by camel, hoof, and foot, before the pyramids were built. Take a look at a globe, and picture human beings hauling the brown powder from point a to point b.
Now that you appreciate the long haul, lets get into the Bible angle on it. Cinnamon doesn’t just get a light reference, it is listed as a really important spice. It’s mentioned in Exodus 30:23 “take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels.” Moses, the patriarch of patriarchs commanded the children of Israel to anoint the tabernacle, the vessels of the tabernacle, and the priests themselves with ointments made of cinnamon. Let’s remember the stuff was hauled from beyond India without the help of jet engines, so a couple hundred pounds was worth more than a small fortune. The traders didn’t haul it all that way for charitable motives. The very chere substance was imported by the Phoenicians and the Arabians, and as I have said, it went over land from Asia . Why did Moses specify cinnamon and others pay the price it cost? Because it was and is special. There was something about it that made it worth whatever it cost.
Moses was not cinnamon’s first admirer, and many more were to follow agreeing it was the superlative body splash and more. The ancient historians Theophrastus, Herodotus, Galen, Dioscorides, Pliny, and Strabo mention it. Cinnamon is mentioned as ranking in value with gold, ivory, and frankincense, and as being among the most costly of the offerings in the temple of Apollo in Miletus , 243 b.c.
Get this, the branches with leaves were woven into wreaths to be used in the temples, much like laurel leaves. Not only did the ancient traders haul the cinnamon sticks, but branches with leaves attached. You know how hard it is to get a christmas tree from the living room to the trash can with the leaves attached, imagine if you had to haul it to Argentina on foot and keep enough leaves on it so it could be sold for wreaths. Unlike the wreaths people wear today at toga parties, the wreaths of the ancient temples were woven of plants thought to have magical and spiritual powers. Why did they bother? Because the ancients knew there was something really special about this plant.
The spice is first mentioned in Chinese herbals from 2700 b.c. to 1200 b.c. This is as much as to say that the Chinese were using cinnamon in medicine 4700 years ago and they still do. Let’s just spend a minute thinking about a product that gets used for almost 5000 years, that’s some product support if you ask me. The Egyptians used cinnamon in their embalming mixtures to keep the bodies well preserved. Cinnamon has a secret ingrediant that made it perfect for people taxidermy, but you will have to read on to hear all about that.
First of all, what is cinnamon? Cinnamon is the bark and twigs of a number of related plants, the plants all have one thing in common, the bark is filled with the characteristic cinnamon oil. The plant is a smallish one, rarely reaching higher than thirty feet, the leaves are deep green, the blossom usually white. Once the trees have reached an age of six or seven years, the bark is peeled off. These peelings are what we call cinnamon sticks, something we Americans only see floating around in hot cider or hot mulled wine. These sticks are ground to a powder, this powder being the cinnamon we see on the grocers shelf. And aside from a dust for doughnuts, we don’t see cinnamon as being very special anymore.
Today we take fragrant oils rather for granted, not realizing that many of our foods are actually flavored with the distilled essences of plants. Cinnamon, being one of the most popular spices in antiquity, was one of the first plants to be distilled down to its essential oil. The Arabians discovered that you could boil out the scented oils contained in a plant, and that those oils would purvey the scent of said substance, be that of roses or cinnamon. It’s a lot easier to carry cinnamon oil than it is to carry the equivalent amount of cinnamon sticks. The Arabians imported cinnamon from the Orient, distilled the oil out, and sold the essential oil to the Europeans. The spices made their way from Arabia to Venice , and from Venice to all points in Europe . If cinnamon sticks were special, cinnamon oil was considered to be bonus deluxe special.
People in days gone by found cinnamon so special or powerful, they felt it incredibly magical. This magic touch was felt around the globe, and in different parts the sticks were made into good luck and protection magic. Take for example around the bayou in the United States , home of hoodoo conjuring. In, Mules and Men, written in 1935, Nora Thurston puts down on paper the secrets of the bayou hoodoo doctors. Hoodoo is the Southern American version of voodoo, and at the turn of the century, the descendants of African spiritualists and doctors still practiced the art. The book is chock full of information on the practice, but here are two recipes for some power gotten from cinnamon. The hoodoo doctors were mixing up something to make a hex or take one off.
“Red fast luck: oil of cinnamon, oil of vanilla, with evergreen. It is put in scrub water to scrub the house, it brings luck in business by pulling customers into the store.”
Or “fast scrubbing essence:” a mixture of thirteen oils. It is burned with incense for fish fry luck (i.e., business success). It includes:
Ok, so what makes cinnamon so special? True, it tastes great on a danish with a cup of coffee, but beyond this, it is a powerful health plant. It is one of the oldest tonic plants on the globe. Tonics you will recall are used to promote health, to keep illnesses away, and strengthen the body. The world may not agree on a political plane, but in the realm of tonics, all agree that cinnamon is good for health. Its special powers in maintaining health made people feel it was special.
The Chinese feel that cinnamon if used for a long period time, consistently, like every day, will improve the complexion, giving the taker a more robust, strong, and young appearance. A Chinese ancient said that if cinnamon was taken with toads brains for seven years, one would be able to walk on water, look young forever, and never die. There is a problem getting your hands on a pound of toads brains, ask your local butcher. I don’t think he will be able to help you. Fortunately, the active ingrediant is cinnamon, which is readily available.
In another Chinese document a rather interested story is told. The hero of the story is Chao the Hunchback, what his last name was or where he lived wasn’t mentioned in the story, so that part will have to remain a mystery. Anyhow, our friend Chao is said to have taken cinnamon for twenty years in a row, and aside from the fact he grew hair on the bottom of his feet, he was said to have been rendered unnaturally strong. As the story goes, he was able to walk five hundred li (200 miles) in a day and lift a weight of one thousand chin (1333 pounds) with his bare hands. As they say, where there is smoke there is fire, and behind most folk tales, is some measure of truth. I wouldn’t start looking for a razor for the soles of your feet, or try to jack your car up with your bare hands, but the daily use of cinnamon might improve your health. The Chinese say that cinnamon heats up a cold body. Their idea is that people with cold extremities have bad circulation, and cinnamon is said to get the blood rushing around, heating everything up. Cinnamon as a strengthener is held as such any way you travel around the globe. Back to Zora Neale Thurston’s book on the bayou ways. Here’s a recipe for a general tonic that was thought to be priming.
“One quart of wine, three pinches of raw rice, three dusts of cinnamon (about one heaping teaspoon), five smalle pieces of the hull of pomegranate about the size of a fingernail, five tablespoons of sugar. Let it come to a boil, set one half hour and stain. Dose: one tablespoon. When the pomegranate is in season, gather all the hulls you can for use at other time in the year.”
The Chinese are quite focused on plants that fire up the waning fire if you will, being quite knowledgeable as to what should be used in the case of loss of vigor. This loss of energy could be due to stress, aging, or illness, no matter what the cause, cinnamon is one of the answers, specifically cassia cinnamon or canella as it is called in Latin American groceries. The Chinese feel it warms the kidneys, fortifies the animal component in all people, curing impotence, weak legs, and backache. Specifically, they say it is supreme for deficient blood that leads to one feeling weak.
Surprisingly enough, cinnamon, usually seen in dashes on top of rice pudding, is one of Asia ‘s more popular PMS treatments. Being a man I cannot estimate what it would be like to be afflicted with difficult menstruations, but from all accounts, it is needless to say, a pain in the behind. Suffer no more, or so say our Asian brethren.
In India the cinnamon is also used to flavor sweat treats, but every villager knows that chewing on the cinnamon stick is a powerful treatment for the monthlies. The spice stimulates the uterine muscles, assisting in getting menstruation over. The same is used in difficult deliveries due to inadequate contractions. Cinnamon is a pain killer as well as a uterine stimulant, the combination essentially the herbal equivalent of many over the counter menstrual medications. The Chinese state that cinnamon improves circulation which promotes regular and easy menstruation.
Are the Asians out on a limb with this idea? Nope. Here’s a little something from old time Europe , “Canell etyn or drunkyn helyp pe liuere and purgep women. . . floures and make for to pisse faste.”
What your are looking at is a quote from a middle English translation of a very famous Latin herbal written somewhere between 849 and 1112 a.d. The name of the herbal was Macer Floridus de viribus herbarum. The original was written in Latin, then translated into middle English several hundred years later. Several hundred years even later, I will translate the line for you, “cinnamon eaten or drunken helps the liver and speeds menstruation and makes it pass quickly.” The message here is that in 8th century Europe people knew that cinnamon was good for a bad case of PMS, which could lead to the loss of life, perhaps not yours, but somebodies. How did we loose track of the simplest remedy yet, who knows?
Did you ever notice after a cinnamon powdered doughnut you couldn’t help but love the whole world, and you thought it was your blood sugar reaching an acceptable level. How wrong you were. Cinnamon has been used as a tranquilizer prior to Western civilization becoming civilized, that is to say it ever did.
The culprit of this relaxation or sedation, is the Cinnamaldehyde contained in the cinnamon powder and in a major way in cinnamon oil. The oil has been proven to tranquilize animals, including humanoids. In some interesting Chinese research, scientists found they were able to neutralize the effects of phenobarbital and methamphetamine in mice with a matching dose of cinnamaldehyde. The same chemical was found to relieve pain in mice, and in that they can’t talk, I’m afraid to know how that was determined. Overcharged nerves do present a threat to life, as they say, stress kills. A hot cup of relaxing cinnamon tea at the moments you experience the most stress may be just what the herbalist ordered.
The folk treatment for bronchial asthma in various parts of Asia has been this same cinnamon tea, researchers have noted this does, in fact, stop the attacks in most sufferers. More and more asthma is being linked to emotional upset, and the relaxing nature of the substance may be at the root of this cure.
In days gone by and even today, a high fever can be the end of you, and if nothing else, an elevated body temperature can make you feel out of whack. One of the Chinese treatments for fever is a dose of cinnamon. Research has shown that mice, poor creatures, when injected with salmonella and typhoid had a reduction in temperature when treated with cinnamaldehyde, that cooky active ingrediant in cinnamon. The reduction in temperature may be due to cinnamon’s ability to open up the blood vessels. The scientific validation aside, the news to you is that if you have a fever, cinnamon is likely to reduce it. In fact, cinnamon lowered the body temperature of mice not injected with the infectious diseases!
Cinnamon can be found as a folk treatment for problems with the circulation, and blood, a very important element in our lives, is indeed something we want to keep circulating. Back to the Chinese, research has shown that cinnamon reduces adrenal hypertension in rats, so rats aren’t people, but close in more than one case.
The world we live in is filled with disease, let’s face it, everywhere you look you see disease, people sneezing and coughing, and usually on you. No one has ever has time to get sick, and with the schedules we keep we generally have less time than in times gone by. In a world where you get two weeks off a year, who wants to spend that precious time in bed watching reruns? The main folk usage of cinnamon has been fighting infection, and an old custom of taken it after having been exposed to an illness in the aim of avoiding getting it yourself, may not be a bad one.
Here are some facts, not theories, facts:
- Cinnamon oil has exhibited antifungal, antiviral, bactericidal, and larvicidal activities
- A liquid carbon dioxide extract of cinnamon bark at a 0.1% concentration has been demonstrated to suppress completely the growth of numerous microorganisms, including Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans
- Antibiotic effect: cinnamon tea has a strong inhibitory effect against such organisms as Straphlococcus aureus and Salmonella typhi and an inhibiting effect in vitro against Asian flu virus A and ECHO virus and has a very strong in vitro inhibitory effect against many gram positive bacteria and pathogenic fungi
Now let’s take a look at what the wives tales had to say about cinnamon:
- An informant revealed to a folklorist in Utah that cinnamon was powerful medicine in treating cankers
- For pe flux. Grynde wel and smale pe grettist maner of canel, and II dragmes of pe poudre dronken with colde water wole stanche pe flux. (This middle English translates to: “cinnamon will stop the flu dead in its tracks”)
- The Shakers used cinnamon as a food preservative, ordering it from the tropical islands from whence it comes
- The Indians use cinnamon to treat infectious diseases
Not surprisingly, the folk usage of cinnamon to stop bacteria, fungus, and virus from attacking food or persons is precisely what it does. From now on, when in contact with snot-nosed children harboring all of the above, have yourself a cup of hot cinnamon tea.
Could there be more from this, all in one pharmacy plant? Yes.
“For pe stomak. Dis driep vp pe ille humoure of pe stomak, and hit comfortep it and strength it.” You guessed it, good old Macer in his easy to read style says cinnamon gets rid of bad things that hang out in the stomach, calms the stomach down, and makes it stronger. As a stomach remedy cinnamon hails supreme, and Macers claim above is actually quite in keeping with the research done of late. If your stomach is upset by a bug of sorts, cinnamon will kill it (the bug). If your stomach is all in a knot, cinnamon will relax it. People in the eighth century knew more about cinnamon than we do! And we like to think of ourselves as so worldly.
And you know where to get cinnamon. The plant isn’t grown much in the states, though several locales would suit it just fine. It is a hot weather plant, and would have to be grown in a greenhouse or in the sunny parts of the country. Though the plant isn’t terribly applicable for the garden, the extra good news is that unlike many of our tonic plants, this one actually tastes nice and will add a pleasant taste to our homemade cure all.