Cinnamon is a spice we are all probably familiar with. It is widely popular and has been used as a favored spice for more than two thousand years.
This cinnamon tree can reach to be 10 – 15 m high if left alone. It has leaves that are about 18 cm long with very distinctive veins. This evergreen tree belongs to the laurel family.
Cinnamon trees are usually pruned when they are five years old and then every two years.
When they are kept low the number of branches increases. By pruning regularly the quality of the twigs improves.
When the branches are approximately 2 m (6 f) long and roughly 2 cm in diameter they are harvested. Cinnamon bark is best harvested during the rainy season. The cork is scratched off and only the inner bark is kept.
The cinnamon spice we use is part of the bark from the branches of the tree. When the sticks of bark are left to dry they will curl naturally. The Latin name for cinnamon is canella which means “little tube”.
The Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka has a sweeter taste than other types of cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon (True cinnamon) has many thin layers and is filled sort of like a cigar.
Cassia tastes harsher than the cinnamon from Sri Lanka. Cassia is thicker and has normally one piece of bark that curls inward. It is hollow like a tube.
Cassia cinnamon contains a lot more coumarin than true cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum).
Coumarin in large dosages can be harmful to the liver and kidneys. Cassia cinnamon contains about 50 times more coumarin than true Ceylon cinnamon. Both types are often sold in local supermarkets as “cinnamon”.
Cinnamon is a warming spice. When you feel chilled on a cold winter day make some tea and place a roll of cinnamon stick in your tea when it is steeping. That should warm you.
Cinnamon is anti-E. coli and helps fight this dreaded bacteria.
Cinnamon has throughout the centuries been used to fight colds and the flu. It is also used as a remedy for digestive problems. It is known to work against diarrhea.
Cinnamon is a rich source of magnesium which is important for maintaining bone density.
Cinnamon is said to reduce blood pressure. It also lowers cholesterol.
Cinnamon can have a positive effect for people suffering from type 2 diabetes. Some tests have shown that a daily dosage of a teaspoon cinnamon can lower the blood sugar levels.
Tests are being made about the effects on how cinnamon can be used to slow down the Alzheimer disease. Test made on mice have shown positive results. We await more good news on the health benefits of cinnamon concerning Alzheimer.
Recommended dosage of cinnamon for an adult is approximately 2 grams daily. A teaspoon contains about 2.7 grams.
Cinnamon is antibacterial and can be used to treat minor cuts and scrapes. After cleaning the cut, pat dry. When the cut or scrape is dry sprinkle some cinnamon on the cut. Finally cover with a bandage.
Cinnamon is a much used spice in pastry, fruits (especially apples), desserts and cakes. It is often used mixed with sugar as toppings on toast and porridges. Cinnamon is the common spice sprinkled on to hot drinks such as cappuccino. Cinnamon is also called for in many meat recipes such as stews and meat pies.