About Benefits of Cinnamon for Health Problems

Cinnamon

Cinnamomum zeylanicum and C cassia Lauraceae.


This evergreen tree grows to a height of 5-8m. It has tough leathery leaves and clusters of small flowers followed by acorn-like berries. The varieties most used are Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) and Chinese cinnamon (c. cassia). Cinnamon is an important element in Ayurveda - a traditional medicine practised in India for more than 5000 years.


Parts used

Bark


Trees that are eight years old or older are harvested every two years. The tubes of dried bark are used for infusions, tinctures and powders. . A distillate of the bark produces an essential oil with a smell like pepper.


Constituents

Ceylon and Chinese cinnamon have constituents that vary slightly. Both types of bark contain up to 2 per cent essential oil, largely made up of cinnamic aldehyde. But Ceylon cinnamon also contains a small amount - 1 per cent - of eugenol, while only a trace of this substance occurs in Chinese cinnamon.


PREPARATION AND DOSAGE

For internal use


TO TREAT gastritis, digestive problems, loss of appetite, minor cases of fatigue INFUSION Put 19 Chinese cinnamon bark or 0.5-1 g Ceylon cinnamon bark into a cup of boiling water. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes, then strain. Drink 3 cups a day.


POWDER Take 0.3-1g three times a day with food.


LIQUID EXTRACT Dilute 0.5-1ml in a glass of water and take three times a day.


IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST CONSULT A DOCTOR


Medicinal uses

The properties of the Ceylon and the Chinese varieties are very similar. Cinnamon bark is antispasmodic; it also stimulates the salivary glands and the mucous membranes of the stomach. It is used to treat a range of digestive problems including indigestion, poor appetite, trapped gas, nausea, belching, flatulence, diarrhoea and intestinal spasms.


The liquid extract has a soothing effect on gastro-duodenal ulcers. In 1989 Japanese scientists found that two compounds in Chinese cinnamon acted as antiulcer agents in rats. The compounds improved gastric blood flow, thereby increasing the numbers of defensive blood cells reaching the site of the ulcer. However, in 2000, clinical trials in Israel found that cinnamon extract had no effect on Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes most ulcers.


The oil is used externally to ease cramps, joint pains, rheumatism and neuralgia. The analgesic and antiinflammatory properties of Chinese cinnamon are key constituents of tiger balm, a soothing liniment. And in 1994, Chinese scientists isolated the constituent cinnamophilin as an effective anti-inflammatory.


Cinnamon is antifungal: in 1995, Indian research showed cinnamic aldehyde to be potent against certain fungal organisms that cause respiratory tract infections.


The spice is a warming stimulant and can combat fatigue. It is good for the circulation and it stimulates the respiratory system, the uterus and the production of oestrogens.


Cultivation

Cinnamon trees cannot survive at temperatures below 15C. They need a well-drained soil and a sunny spot.


CAUTIONS

  • The essential oil can trigger skin allergies and inflammation of the mucous membranes.
  • Use cinnamon oil only under medical herbalist supervision.
  • If pregnant or breastfeeding do not consume more cinnamon than is normally present in food.


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