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(NaturalNews) The spice cinnamon has long been used in both cooking and in medicine. Since Egyptian times, cinnamon's healing abilities have been recognized and utilized. Chinese medical journals record cures with cinnamon dating back to 2,800 B. C. Cinnamon has also been used in Ayurvedic Medicine in India. Cinnamon is a known antibacterial and antifungal and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Historical Use of Cinnamon
Referred to by Pliny the Elder, cinnamon was used as far back as 100 A.D and valued 15 times over silver. Romans utilized cinnamon for spiritual healing powers as well as to treat coughs and colds. In religious ceremonies, cinnamon was burned to purify the air and as an offering. Egyptians utilized Cinnamon to embalm bodies and also to dry and preserve meat.
The most common form of cinnamon comes from the cinnamomum zeylanicum plant, known as Cassia Cinnamon. This tree first originated in Ceylon, but it is now found on many continents and in many countries, from India to Egypt, and from Vietnam to Brazil. Another source of cinnamon is Ceylon Cinnamon. This type is known as True Cinnamon. Ceylon Cinnamon is more expensive than Cassia Cinnamon and can be lighter colored. The source of the spice is the dried tree bark.
Active Ingredient in Cinnamon
The active ingredient in cinnamon is a chemical called coumarin. This compound is known to thin blood, and for this reason, pregnant women and diabetics are not advised to consume cinnamon.
The Name of Cinnamon
The name of the cinnamon plant comes from the ancient Hebrew word, "amomon," meaning ancient spice. The Italians have called cinnamon "cannella." This word means tube and refers to the shape that the bark rolls into when it is dried, which is the form of whole, dried cinnamon sticks.
Uses of Cinnamon in Chinese Medicine
Recorded use of cinnamon in traditional Chinese medicine dates nearly three thousand years. Chinese medicine records the use of cinnamon, called dwai, for a wide variety of ailments, including colds, diarrhea, and difficult menstruation.
Ayurvedic Medicine Uses Cinnamon
In India, cinnamon is used in Ayurvedic medicine for people with a kapha body type. It is commonly added to tea to aid digestion and to treat diabetes. Ayurvedic medicine also uses cinnamon oil to soothe nerves.
Recent Research on Diabetes and Cinnamon
Researchers in Sweden investigated the healing properties of cinnamon in treating diabetes. Fourteen research subjects consumed rice pudding with cinnamon added. The control group ate rice pudding with no cinnamon. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Though this study had a small group of participants, further research has continued to show cinnamon's effect on lowering blood glucose. The American Diabetes Association has suggested utilizing cinnamon for diabetics in 2006. They cited research that showed that a small daily intake of cinnamon lowered fasting blood glucose levels after 40 days.