A lingering taste of Winter: cinnamon

Look in any kitchen cabinet and it’s the spice you’re most likely to see -- especially if there are kids in the house. It’s the cornerstone of some of our most beloved baked goods. It enhances a cup of coffee but is said to ward off ants. It’s thought to reduce blood sugar and is an important tool for diabetics.

Cinnamon is the classic cold weather spice, though it’s favored year-round. Its scent evokes thoughts of warmth and comfort. It blends with sweet and savory flavors and smells.

Cinnamon is derived from the inner bark of one of several types of trees in the laurel family. True cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka, harvested from a bushy evergreen tree that grows well in a tropical climate. The most commonly found version of the spice labeled “cinnamon” is actually cassia, native to China. This spice was mentioned in Chinese writings as early as 2500 BC. Egyptians used true cinnamon as an embalming agent and in incense. In Ayurveda, it was used to aid digestion and soothe menstrual flow. Cinnamon was valued more than silver in Ancient Rome. Countries fought over trade of it in the 17th through 19th centuries, though it was eventually cultivated in enough locations across the globe to make it a readily available, inexpensive spice.

Cinnamon has such a variety of benefits:

  • Warming to the entire body

  • Sweet, pungent, and bitter taste attributes which is helpful for excessive Kapha while also balancing Vata.

  • Energizes digestion

  • Stimulates circulation

  • Decongestant

  • Warms the lungs

  • Antimicrobial to cleanse the mouth

  • Powder can soothe a toothache

  • Quells nausea

  • Menstrual flow regulator

  • Counters the mucous-producing effects of dairy

  • Has powerful anti-inflammatory properties

  • Reduces LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, while leaving HDL, “good” cholesterol, untouched

  • Can reduce insulin resistance

In your nearest supermarket, you’re most likely to see bottles of cassia. Occasionally you might find Saigon Cinnamon. Seek out Ceylon Cinnamon when you can -- it’s the best of the bunch. You can purchase Ceylon Cinnamon in our retail store at the dhyana Center. Here’s how each compare:

cinnamon chart med.jpg

Cinnamon is commonly found powdered, in sticks called “quills”, or in oil form. The essential oil of cinnamon is very powerful and can burn skin. Be very careful if using the oil in any way, whether topically or as a home scent.

Widely known as one of the most beneficial and flexible spices, be generous in its use particularly when using Ceylon cinnamon. Whether you’re enjoying a rice pudding, a curry, a spicy chocolate, or a sprinkle on apple slices, cinnamon is your best supporting actor in health.

Andrea Foster