10 Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Ancient medicine systems of the world have used herbal products for centuries to cure ailments. In ancient times there was no modern medicine to cure diseases and people relied on plants to find treatment for various health conditions. Herbal treatments were practiced in many ancient civilizations such as Egyptian, Roman, Greek and Indian. They have been around for centuries and are a result of age old wisdom where people trusted nature and sort answers in it for all their health problems. Herbs have now made a comeback, as people realized they are safer on the human body as they are natural products. Natural products have no or little side effects and can be safely used in limited doses to alleviate various health problems.
Cinnamon is one such spice that is being extensively used for its medicinal properties. Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices which grow naturally in parts of India, Indonesia, Brazil, Sri-Lanka and Egypt. The spice is the dried bark of a species of evergreen trees. The spice is shaped as thin strips rolled into one another and look a lot like parchments. Cinnamon has been used as a spice in cooking and for medicinal purposes since ancient times. There is evidence to show the spice was used in ancient India, parts of Middle East and Africa. Cinnamon is available in different varieties, depending on the part of the bark. The most superior quality can be identified by its pale color and thin paper like texture. The thinner the bark, the better the quality is considered.
Cinnamon is a sweet smelling spice with a sweet taste. It is highly aromatic and enhances the flavors of dishes it is added into while cooking. Cinnamon is not used for flavoring dishes alone, it is used extensively for its medicinal properties too. Cinnamon is believed to have antimicrobial, antibacterial, anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory qualities. Its use as herbal medicine has been prevalent since ancient times. The ancient Indian medicine system Ayurveda shows extensive use of cinnamon for treating various diseases.
Today cinnamon is being recognized as a wonder herb that can help fight many diseases. And why not, since it is a natural product, there are no issues of serious side effects that are often associated with modern medicine. The healing capacity of cinnamon can be attributed to the essential oils naturally present in the spice. With humans turning back to Mother Nature for cures, let us explore how effective cinnamon is in curing various ailments.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
1. Cinnamon has carminative properties and helps relieve symptoms of flatulence and bloating. Half a teaspoon of the powdered spice can be consumed with water (preferably tepid) to ease the heavy feeling in the stomach. Alternatively, a small piece of cinnamon stick can be chewed for similar results. People suffering from gas can add cinnamon to their food. It would help enhance the food and act as a medicine as well.
2. A poultice of cinnamon powder placed on small babies stomach can help alleviate colic pain.
3. Research establishes the age old belief that cinnamon has anti- microbial property. It has been used since ancient times to fight yeast infections. Extract of the spice can control bacterial and fungal growths.
4. Consuming cinnamon in any form slows down the release of inflammatory fatty acids in the body. This has an anti-inflammatory reaction on the body. Cinnamon oils can be applied locally to relieve pain and swelling and for curing arthritis.
5. The spice has the ability to lower cholesterol levels (HDL). Half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder is recommended daily for those suffering from cholesterol.
6. Diabetic patients find they can control their sugar levels by taking a teaspoon of cinnamon powder twice a day.
7. Cinnamon is said to lower chances of stroke as it can control hypertension as well.
8. Cinnamon is a rich source of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and trace elements. Hence taking the spice in small doses can help fight deficiencies of these minerals in the body.
9. The spice acts as an anti-clotting agent and blood thinner. People who add the spice to their diet have thinner blood which does not clot unnecessarily. This is essentially beneficial for the heart.
10. Cinnamon is also high in fiber. The fiber content in cinnamon can control constipation and hemorrhoids.
Cinnamon can be used whole, in powdered form or as oil extract. Cinnamon being a natural product spoils easily if not stored properly. It should always be stored in air-tight containers. The shelf life of whole cinnamon is longer than the powdered variety. It is believed that powdering cinnamon alters the chemical composition of the spice. This does not reduce its medicinal property, but does affect how long it can be stored. To know if cinnamon is fresh and retains its value it should be smelled. If the cinnamon sticks smells sweet it is still good for use. Cinnamon that lacks the aromatic aroma should be discarded as it would not possess any curative properties.