Have you ever found yourself needing a little extra warmth from your tea? Cinnamon is often used for this exact purpose. This potent spice does wonders for stimulating our bodies and warming them from the inside out. Read on for an herbalist’s perspective on why cinnamon is a tea and spice super hero.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum; Lauraceae) is the dried inner bark of the shoots of the cinnamon tree in the Laurel family. Cinnamon is widely found in medicinal and culinary tea blends; highly valued in Chinese medicine as a warming and stimulating herb, used to stimulate circulation and clear congestion. Ayurvedic physicians of India use cinnamon bark for respiratory ailments, stomach upsets, muscle spasms and diabetes. It’s action as a demulcent in the gastrointestinal tract is especially helpful for many problems due to coldness.
What are cinnamon’s “warming qualities”?
A deep acting stimulant, cinnamon warms the internal body. This aids many problems due to coldness such as rheumatic pain, cramps, spasms, gas, coughs, mucous, and lower back pain. It also warms the kidneys and strengthens the adrenal glands. The warming helps enhance immune functions and our ability to handle stress. It is useful for diarrhea and replenishing strength, especially for the eldery. It is a main ingredient in Tiger Balm, the popular topical Chinese ointment for pain relief.
Daily consumption of cinnamon can lower risk factors and stabilize metabolic syndromes. Recent studies prove ¼-½ tsp cinnamon per day balances blood sugar and can control blood sugar problems, particularly in type 2 diabetes, and also lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. Those with type 2 diabetes or those who have elevated glucose, triglycerides or total cholesterol may benefit from regular inclusion of cinnamon in their daily diet. (Dartmouth College researchers reporting in Diabetes Care)
Cinnamon’s prevention qualities
Cinnamon may help prevent and/or treat: cancer, cholesterol problems, heart disease, hypertension, prediabetes, stroke, high Triglycerides, ulcers, and wounds. For women’s reproductive health, cinnamon relaxes the uterine muscle and calms painful uterine spasms. Further, complex, double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled scientific studies prove reduced pain scores for perineal pain and healing from episiotomy incisions. Another female disease where insulin and blood sugar levels are haywire and the sufferer is at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke is PCOS(Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). Researchers state “interesting” findings from studies, and encourage further research.
Cinnamon is highly valued by herbalists for it’s extremely slimy quality. Cinnamon turns slimy if steeped in hot water for many hours and then chilled. In hot and/or extreme dry conditions, this is what you want in your gut. The slime helps retain adequate hydration and keeps your tissues moist. Cold water extracts extremely slimy chains of mucopolysaccharides from cinnamon bark which can be highly analgesic and wound healing.
Cinnamon is a time-tested remedy for the onset of colds. It will resolve irritating coughs, sore throats and bronchial congestion, and clears stagnation throughout the respiratory tract. Cinnamon tea also makes an effective mouthwash for gum inflammation.
Cinnamon has a food-preserving quality
This is why it features as a dominant spice in many traditional dishes throughout the world. It effectively eliminates one of the most virulent bacterial causes of food poisoning. It eradicates Helicobacter pylori, the bacterial cause of most stomach ulcers and a leading cause of stomach cancer. Cinnamon is also effective against Candida albacans. This is the fungus that causes most cases of vaginal yeast infections. Because it is warming, it is a perfect accompaniment for cold dairy foods.
Much of the cinnamon imported into the United States is Cinnamon cassia, also called Chinese cinnamon. True cinnamon is Cinnamomum verum and goes by the name Ceylon and Sri Lankan cinnamon. The two cinnamons are very difficult to tell apart but differ in flavor. Cassia is the sweeter and stronger of the two while true cinnamon’s flavor is more complex and light tasting.
Lake Missoula Tea Company’s cinnamon blends
While many Lake Missoula Tea Company blends have cinnamon, Sassy Citrus & Spice is our heavy hitter. Other blends that have cinnamon:
Sweet Rhapsody | Baked Apple Pie | Everything’s Coming Up Roses | Cycle Goddess | Joint Peace, Arthritis Blend | Joint Peace, Arthritis Blend | Virtually all of our Chais | And Rice Pudding | Cinnamon Orange Spice
References and recommended reading:
The Herbal Kitchen by Kami McBride. 50 Easy-to-Find Herbs and Over 250 Recipes to Bring Lasting Health to You and Your Family.
The Mistress of Spices A novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
Herbs for the Home Medicine Chest by Rosemary Gladstar, Storey Books. Understanding Herbs, When to Use Herbs, Home Health Care with Herbs.
The Yoga of Herbs by Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Vasant Lad. An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine
Healing Spices; How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease, by Bharat B. Aggarwal with Deborah Yost
Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, or The True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History, by Giles Milton
Greta de la Montagne, RH (Registered Herbalist), AHG (American Herbalists Guild), and Lake Missoula’s herbalist consultant and blogger, edited by Heather Kreilick.