Herbs have both familiar common names and formal names. Cinnamon is the kitchen pantry name for the spice Cinnamomum verum.
Most of us love the cinnamon spice and we use it in familiar recipes for:
- cinnamon buns & breads
- cinnamon cookies
- pumpkin pie
- French toast
- chai tea
But cinnamon is used for a lot more than a great taste in recipes. Cinnamon is a great medicinal herb. Common medicinal actions include:
So how does cinnamon actually work in the body? A compound in cinnamon is called cinnamaldehyde, and it is a hypotensive spasmolytic – so what does that mean? Hypotensive is a herb or synthetic pharmaceutical drug that brings down blood pressure. Spasmolytic action means to relax muscles – eliminate the tension and spasm in muscles that are too tight.
So we can take cinnamon to relieve cramping in the gut.
Because Cinnamon relaxes the smooth muscles in the membranes around the arteries, allowing the veins to expand and let more blood through, it also has the ability to increase peripheral blood flow.
If that wasn’t good enough, the bark oil has compounds that fight against fungus, bacteria and viruses – not bad for a kitchen spice!!
The leaf oil works differently – this oil has eugenol in it which is both anti-septic and anasthetic.
Cinnamon is also known to have an impact on insulin receptors improving insulin resistance; regulating blood glucose levels; in addition to helping the body work with lipids, inflammation, antioxidant activity, weight gain, and the glycation of proteins.
Now comes for the disappointment. There are different kinds of cinnamon and they have different phytonutrient profiles. Cassia cinnamon and Ceylon aka Sri Lanka cinnamon have significantly different amounts of coumarin.
What we want to use is the Ceylon or Sri Lanka cinnamon. It is has a better effect on the issues noted above. The Cassia cinnamon comes from the same family and has a lesser effect on the above noted issues but has more coumarin and if used extensively could have an impact on the liver.
On the other hand, Big Pharma extracted the coumarin and made a synthetic medicine out of it and called it Warfarin aka coumadin. It is used as an anti-coagulant.
I always find it interesting when Big Pharma thinks they can isolate a naturally occurring compound from all the other compounds in a plant – then they take into the laboratory and create a synthetic copy of it – add in all kinds of toxic chemicals to stabilize it; protect it from the hydrochloric acid; and then get absorbed through the intestinal walls – and somehow have the same impact that the REAL thing has. Amazing!
The bottom line – try to find the Ceylon or Sri Lanka cinnamon.
Here’s to your health.
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Dr. Holly is a naturopathic doctor that holds a PhD in Psychology and Biochemistry, specializing in balancing mind, body and energy of the system.
Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and is not a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or other health care practitioner.