There is one aroma that is so well-known in practically every place and in every culture, that everyone knows it well, and even has loving comfortable memories about it. This aroma is generally associated with happy days, pleasant times, relaxing moments, and often the careless days of childhood. Lately, this same aroma has become associated with long strolls at the mall, with its wafting delight surrounding us and pulling us over for a taste, or at least a good strong whiff. The aroma that I am referring to is cinnamon! It seems that nowadays the aroma of cinnamon is everywhere, and the amount of little coffee shops that specialize in cinnamon buns and variations thereof have certainly been on the increase for some time now, and show no signs of stopping. That is probably because cinnamon is one of those smells that we can’t get enough of, and the taste of cinnamon is nothing short of “to die for”!
Scientifically, cinnamon is known as “Cinnamomum zeylanicum”, and the plant is considered a native of Indonesia, although it is widely cultivated these days in India and Sri Lanka. (In fact, cinnamon was a great part of the reason that the Portuguese, the Dutch, and then the British, occupied Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, in the 16th century and after). The leaf is the part that is generally steam distilled in order to get the essential oil of cinnamon, although most people are more familiar with the actual herbal use, which is the bark of the cinnamon, that is most used in cooking all over the world, in practically every country. You must be very careful though, when using the essential oil, since it is extremely strong and potent, and might cause irritation if used directly on the skin, so it must always be well diluted for topical uses of the essential oil of cinnamon. But the safest use of cinnamon is the bark itself. The amazing thing is that this curly bark can be continuously gathered without harming the tree, and anyone who has grown up in the United States, in the UK, or in most other European countries will have seen those beautiful curled cinnamon sticks that are used in tea, hot chocolate, and apple cider, among other things. Cinnamon has especially strong connotations when associated with winter aromas, and its use in the West from Halloween to Christmas to New Years often has more meaning and memories than the actual holiday itself.
In ancient history cinnamon was used in many different capacities. In ancient Greece, for example, cinnamon was used as incense in religious temples. In ancient Egypt it was used for medicinal purposes, and even love-potions, and its reputation as an aphrodisiac precedes its modern day uses. (Aha! That’s the secret behind its attraction, and why everyone likes it so much! It may also explain some of the girl chasing and amorous getting to know one another that occurs most of the time at the malls here!) It is also one of the oldest remedies in Chinese medicine, dating back more than 2000 years!
The great thing about cinnamon is that it works medicinally to help with a wide variety of ailments and complaints, in addition to its wonderful, attractive aroma. And, as of recently, there have been some very interesting scientific discoveries in its regard, that will surely revolutionize our lives. Take, for example, the recent discovery, according to a scientific study, that cinnamon acts as an insecticide that is stronger than one of the most famous and more widely used insecticides on the market today (Deet) for killing mosquito larvae, and all that without the nasty smell of the usual insecticides that are out on the market today, and although, the research in that area is only just beginning, it is very promising.
Some of the most important uses of cinnamon are in our modern day herbal pharmacies. In fact, cinnamon can be used in so many different ways for medicinal purposes that it is difficult to choose which ones are the best.
Cinnamon is a very energizing herb, and is great for those who are suffering from exhaustion and lethargy. Even those people who suffer from a low libido will find cinnamon helpful to their problem. And even those who suffer from depression will find relief with the use of cinnamon.
It is also good for low blood pressure. (Be careful though, for those with high blood pressure, or those taking anticoagulation drugs, because cinnamon will help make your blood thinner naturally, which is good for most people, but not under those circumstances). Cinnamon also seems to have a good effect on blood sugar and may turn out to help people suffering from diabetes.
A small amount of the essential oil of cinnamon mixed in base oil is great for rheumatic pain, and the misery of arthritis. Rubbing on a very mild blend will also help joint pain, headaches, tight muscles, and even menstrual cramps. It generally increases the circulation in whatever area it is used on.
If you suffer from constipation, or gas, drinking some cinnamon tea may help you, but don’t have it when you are pregnant. In fact, it is definitely one of the best digestive herbs around. The use of cinnamon in the treatment of stomach ulcers has been successful for centuries.
It is extremely antibiotic and antiseptic, and is great against viruses, fungi, and all types of bacteria, in addition to being a general immune booster. If you have a bladder infection, you can try some cinnamon tea to help relieve and kill the infection, thus comes its use with all kinds of respiratory ailments, including tuberculosis. It is also great for flu symptoms and coughs.
It is used in many places to help with tropical infection and typhoid, and in areas where head lice are rampant, cinnamon oil is a great solution that doesn’t involve potent chemicals. But, again, here remember that you must only use a little of the oil and always mixed lightly into a base oil.
As you can clearly see, cinnamon is not just a comfort aroma. It is still that, but it is also so much more. So the next time you are hit by the delicious wafting aroma of cinnamon, enjoy it, and know that it is not just another pretty smell, but a valuable medicine too!
Here are some of my favorite brands of cinnamon.. these are the ones that I use.. each one has a different flavor and they are all wonderful!