Many people know cinnamon as the sweet addition to any number of delicious treats. What they may not know, though, is that cinnamon is also a healing agent and a very healthy herb.
Cinnamon is mentioned in the Bible and in ancient Europe, China and Egypt; both as a medicine and a healing agent. It has always served as a popular international commodity, one traded frequently between countries, or used as gifts to royalty, kings and the well respected.
This popular herb, available in ground and stick varieties, finds its origins—appropriately enough—on the cinnamon tree, where it forms the tree’s brown bark. Available in Chinese and Ceylon varieties, it is a time-honored herb and one of the oldest in the world, according to www.whfoods.com.
What to look for:
Cinnamon is a small evergreen tree, native to Sri Lanka or more commonly referred to as the spice obtained from the tree’s bark. The trees can grow roughly 30-50 feet tall, with leaves that are long and oval shaped. It has a distinct scent and has small purple fruit. It is still grown in Sri Lanka, as well as in India, Sumatra, Java, Brazil, Vietnam, The West Indies, Egypt, Zanzibar, and Madagascar.
How Mother Nature loves it:
Cinnamon trees grow best in sun or partial shade. They require sufficient water throughout the year, but should not be over watered. As with most sensitive trees, this tree should be protected from frost and harsh winters.
The trees are grown for a few years, pruned each year allowing the roots to send up more shoots. The shoots are then stripped of their inner bark, and the rest that remains is cinnamon!
How to use it:
In terms of its therapeutic qualities, cinnamon is known as a valuable source of iron, fiber, calcium and magnesium, and contains three essential oils, cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol, that are useful for medicinal purposes. These are used for anti-clotting and anti-microbial purposes, and for blood sugar control, as a boost to brain function, and as an aid to colon and heart health.
Cinnamon is also famous as a comfort food; a warming herb that is particularly popular around the holidays. Many adults have fond memories of the cinnamon cookies their mom made when they were kids, the cinnamon bread their aunt brought over for family holiday festivities, or the cinnamon gum they chewed as kids. And especially when you have a cold, a splash of cinnamon in warm tea makes for a luxurious, very therapeutic treat.
Cinnamon leaves a sweet aftertaste and adds a pleasant accent to any number of dishes, without being too excessively heavy or sweet. For someone on a steady diet, cinnamon can make a new replacement for heavier, more caloric sweets. And, as mentioned, its therapeutic value and benefits are undeniable.
People use cinnamon to top off their rolls and toast, sprinkle in their cocoa, and as a ‘spicy sweet’ ingredient in their cake, bread, Currie, and snack stick recipes. Especially during the winter time, cinnamon is a tasty comfort food that adds an extra, very sumptuous accent to any meal or dessert. Beyond its sumptuous taste, cinnamon has a sweet, comforting scent that appeals to the senses.
Best stored in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dry, dark location, cinnamon makes the perfect addition to any kitchen pantry. It will last even longer when stored in the refrigerator; either way, the conscientious cook should always keep this herb in ready supply.
Cinnamon is a pure, sweet herb unrivaled in its nutritious and therapeutic benefits. If you want a sweet, scented ingredient that reminds you of home, pick up some cinnamon today.