Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum Cassia)
Cinnamon is a well-known brown substance, usually familiar in its powdered form, and occasionally, (in hot, spiced cider), is also familiar in its "stick" form. The sticks are actually strips of the dried bark which have tightly curled themselves into "sticks" as they dry. Perhaps you have fond memories of using cinnamon.... usually in the context of eating sweet things which have been spiced with cinnamon. This spice is used extensively in many styles of cooking, especially in Asian cuisine. It is widely used as a warming, stimulating tea, or is added as a sweet, warming flavoring herb to porridges consisting of whole, cooked grains and (unsweetened) soy milk (Wesbrey is good). Large quantities of these trees are grown in Indonesia, the world's foremost supplier of the raw cinnamon bark material.
In a medicinal sense, cinnamon is somewhat stimulating to the digestion and gastric secretions. Cinnamon is widely used as a carminative herb, meaning that it has a good effect upon digestive functions, helping the gut to relax, and dispelling excess gas, thereby helping to relieve mild bloating or cramping due to gas. In this aspect is is similar to fennel seed, which is also used in flatulence and colic. (also with ginger and fennel seed). The 3% - 4% volatile oils, which are usually contained in the raw, dried bark or powder (if it's not too old), are probably the constituents mostly responsible for these carminative actions. The volatile oils, which are the stimulating part of this herb, have the effect of improving circulation to the kidney tissue itself, (an effect which is separate from the filtering function of the kidney). Cinnamon bark is used in Chinese medicine (TCM) for helping to stimulate "kidney energy".
Another very interesting aspect of cinnamon, which is widely overlooked, is its ability to stablilize blood sugar levels, simply because of its nature. Much of the bark which comprises cinnamon sticks or ground cinnamon powder is actually a very complex carbohydrate structure, called a muco-polysaccharride. When rehydrated, these complex starches form long, ropey, mucilaginous (slimy) structures. (you can observe this by putting a heaping teaspoonful of the powder into water and simmering it at just below boiling for about 20 minutes. It becomes slippery and ropey textured.)
When ingested, as a ground herb, or tea, these structures require a much longer time period to be digested and assimilated, thus, they work to stabilize blood sugar levels, by providing only a small amount of glucose over a long time as they break down. Similarly, Fenugreek seeds, when added to grains before cooking, also lend this effect to the breakdown of complex, higher glycemic index grains, such as millet. For all of these reasons, Cinnamon bark is a good one for extensive use within the diet by diabetic persons, or those wishing to improve the health of their kidneys.
The essential oil of Cinnmon is also well-known for its dark, spicy aroma, and it is pleasing to the taste, but is quite hot. I personally do not recommend ingesting essential oils in an undiluted form, but choose to dilute them in other mediums which may be used topically or in some cases, ingested. Some examples of how I might use Cinnamon myself are: in a blend of fixed oils (as when making a lightly-scented, warming massage oil). For internal use in a honeyed herb blend for children (or adults), where the addition of cinnamon adds a warm, spicy, familar taste. In an alcohol/water or alcohol/water/glycerine extract; as a simple (single herb), or in compounded extracts, cinnamon adds a delightful taste to many blends. Only a few drops of the pure essential oil are added per fluid ounce. The addition of cinnamon to combinations of other tastes can create some wonderful harmony in medicine-making as it does in cooking. When using essential oils, always be sure they are REAL, pure essential oils, and not anything synthetic.
The recommended doseage found in several formerly "official" U.S. dispensatories of the early 1900's are as follow: BARK...Standard Infusion 2-4 fl. oz. ; Tincture [1:5, 60% alcohol, 35% purified water, 5% pure vegetable glycerine USP.], 20 - 50 drops, (both forms of the bark can be taken up to 4 times per day); ESSENTIAL OIL... 2-5 drops in a capsule, once or twice per day.
Click the following link if you would like to see ingredients and pricing for our Diabetes-Aide Tonic Tea, which contains cinnamon.
See the master table for other herbs useful we can supply and for pricing, check our our The Herb Shed
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