Cinnamon - Good For More Than Just Pastries
Posted on 07 February 2015 by Leonie Satori
While many of us associate cinnamon with pastries, chai tea and Christmas, as a medicinal herb, cinnamon has many beneficial properties including antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and cholesterol lowering properties … and so much more. Just experiencing the smell of cinnamon can bring about feelings of contentment and relaxation. In much the same way as dark chocolate can bring about these same sensations, cinnamon is said to trigger many of these chemicals to reduce stress and enhance cognitive function. 
Cinnamon has a long history of use in many cultures, traditionally in Eastern and Western Herbal Medicine, cinnamon has been used to aid digestion, to help with colic, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain – thus making it the perfect ingredient in difficult to digest pastries! Cinnamon is also useful for improving appetite, relieving indigestion and symptoms of bloating.
Cinnamon however has many other therapeutic actions in addition to improving digestion, recent interest in the herb shows that cinnamon can be helpful for blood sugar regulation, making it a powerful ingredient in home kitchens for those with insulin resistance or type II diabetes. Another benefit of using cinnamon is the combined action of lowering total cholesterol and triglyceride levels while raising HDL levels. 
A plant native to Sri Lanka, Cinnamomum zeylanicum (verum) or Twak in Sanskrit is best known in Ayurveda for its sleshmahara or ‘mucous releasing’ properties and lekhana or ‘scraping of toxins’ action. Ayurvedic medicine also attributes many of the therapeutic qualities of cinnamon to strengthening circulation (vyana vayu) and applications externally help to enhance blood flow and used internally can improve circulation.
Cinnamon is also revered in Ayurvedic Medicine for its diaphoretic and expectorant qualities, making it a valuable herb to use during coughs and colds.  One of my favourite qualities of cinnamon is with the antibacterial and antiviral qualities, and this in combination with the diaphoretic and expectorant qualities, make it a perfect addition to our Herbal Cold & Flu Remedy to aid in boosting the immune system. Interestingly, when you look at the historical use of cinnamon, it was often used as a meat preservative, thus confirming its long known use as an antimicrobial agent.
Just when you thought cinnamon couldn’t get any more therapeutic, the antifungal aspects of cinnamon make it a perfect spice for those with tinea, candida overgrowth, especially in combination with obesity or diabetes.
But, wait, there is more: cinnamon is also considered to be a highly valued anti-inflammatory herb, and recent interest in the this herb has shown that its use in rheumatic disorders of the joints can benefit in reducing pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. 
I have also found that many people also enjoy the benefit of having cinnamon added to herbal formulas to improve digestion, and of course as a pleasant tasting therapeutic addition to an herbal formula. Cinnamon is a valuable herb to have on hand in your home kitchen dispensary to enhance the flavour of home cooking and to awaken the senses.
As always, consult a Naturopath or Medical Herbalist before using herbs to ensure that an herbal preparation is suitable for your health needs.
- Kim SH, Hyun SH. Choung SY: Anti-Diabetic effect of cinnamon extract on blood glucose in db/db mice. J Ethnopharmacol 104: 119-123, 2006.
- Zoladz P, Raudenbush B, Lilley S. Cinnamon perks performance. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences, held in Sarasota, FL, April 21-25, 2004. 2004.
- Frawley D, Lad V: The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine
About the Author
Leonie is a Naturopath & Medical Herbalist with a passion for good food, healthy living and of course, herbal medicine. When she is not consulting in her Naturopathic clinic in Lismore or blogging about nutrition, Ayurvedic Medicine or natural health, she is studying yoga, growing her own herbs and vegetables or quietly walking in the natural bush land in Northern Rivers NSW.
Contact our health centre in Lismore to book an appointment with Leonie in our naturopathic clinic.
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