Cinnamomum zeylanicum/cassia – Cortex (Lauraceae)
Common name: Cinnamon (E), Ceylon cinnamon (E), Cassia (E), Dalchini (H)
Sanskrit: Darusita, Twak
Twak means ‘skin’ or ‘bark’; the bark of the Cinnamon tree is used in Ayurvedic medicine as a major digestive herb. As a bark protects a tree, Cinnamon protects and strengthens the intestines. It is full of sweet and stimulating essential oils, cinnamon is a long-time favourite for invigorating and warming the whole body.
Cinnamon is an evergreen tree native to China but is now grown all over Asia, Indonesia, Vietnam, India and Sri Lanka. To produce the traditional spice we see today, the trees bark is harvested and then either powdered or rolled into characteristic quills. Cinnamon is often grown in semi-wild ‘forest gardens’. They are carefully designed and highly efficient ‘agro-ecosystems’ that can contain an incredible diversity of multi-purpose herbs, shrubs and trees.
There are several different cinnamon species; but the most commonly used are C. aromaticum, C. burmanni, C. bejolghota coming from Vietnam, Indonesia and India. The famous ‘quills’ come from the zeylanicum species. These varieties contain the highest levels of the delicious and therapeutic essential oils commonly associated with this sweet herb. There are numerous other Cinnamonum species (camphora, burmanni, iners, loureirii, massoia) that are also used for medicinal purposes.
How it Works
Cinnamon contains a number of different constituents that contribute towards its medicinal capabilities, the three most significant being cinnamaldehyde, tannins and coumarins.
- Cinnamaldehyde is the component that gives cinnamon its scent and its flavour. Medicinally it has displayed anti-microbial and anti-tumour activity within the body.
- Tannins are primarily astringing, causing the body’s mucous membranes to become firmer as well as influencing a healthy immune response.
- Coumarins benefit lymphedema as well as displaying anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-tumour activities within the body.
Into the Heart of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is characteristically warming, sweet and pungent. It can stimulate the heart and circulation, dispelling cold and building core strength. This warming herb will invigorate the blood, making it particularly suited to wet, stagnant conditions of the female reproductive system such as endometriosis, cysts and fibroids. Cinnamon’s warmth will promote sweating and dispel any damp congestion that may also be influencing pain in the joints. Cinnamon stokes a sluggish digestion and strengthens nutritional absorption. Cinnamon will balance blood sugar, reduce insulin resistance and contribute to achieving a balanced weight. Cinnamon also contains anti-bacterial, fungal and parasitic qualities that make it helpful in reducing digestive infection or dysbiosis.
Lungs: Cinnamon clears mucus and encourages circulation throughout the respiratory system. It can also be used as a hot decoction to clear fevers and encourage sweating.
GIT: Cinnamon stimulates the digestive metabolism making it an excellent remedy in characteristically cold and sluggish digestive systems and slow digestion. It is indicated in flatulence and colic. Cinnamon’s ability to support absorption also makes it useful in diarrhoea with characteristically loose and watery stools and undigested food. The anti-microbial properties of cinnamon also indicate it in the treatment of different forms of dysbiosis, including candida.
Circulation: Cinnamon stimulates circulation to the extremities, indicating it in conditions such as Raynaud’s syndrome, arthritis and generalised circulatory insufficiencies. These effects can also be of use in cardiac insufficiency with cold extremities, difficulty breathing, fluid accumulation and tiredness.
Urinary & Kidney: Cinnamon’s warm and dry qualities are helpful in treating conditions such as nocturia and frequent urination that are irritated by the cold. Cinnamon can penetrate deep into the tissues, where, coupled with its sweet quality give it an ability to nourish the reproductive system, treating infertility and male impotence.
Gynaecology: Cinnamon is an excellent anti-spasmodic for dysmenorrhoea. It can treat both amenorrhoea and menorrhagia through its blood invigorating, warming and penetrating properties. It can also be utilised in wet and stagnant conditions due to its drying astringency in the pelvic cavity, indicating it in the treatment of ovarian cysts, fibroids and endometriosis.