Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
The cinnamon tree is evergreen with leathery leaves. It blooms with small yellowish-white clusters of flowers in the summer which change into purple berries. A native in the Indian sub continent, the flavor of the herb is derived from the aromatic oil content of the plant. Throughout history this herb has been highly prized by nations and was often given as a gift to great leaders. It was also mentioned in the Bible as being a gift worthy of Kings.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Cinnamon is used to cure digestive problems, especially cramping and flatulence. It is also used for vomiting, gastroenteritis and diarrhea. It is a warming herb, and improves the circulation. It is also germicidal. According to Chinese medicine, the herb can be used for pain and congestion. It is considered a useful herb to move the qi, or vital energy when it gets stuck in the abdomen. The herbal tea can relieve gas in the stomach. Larger doses can have a laxative effect.
Externally Cinnamon oil is used in aromatherapy. The oil from the leaf is less irritating to the skin than that made from the bud or bark. When the oil is used sparingly, it can strengthen those who feel weak. It tones the body and affects the digestive and lymphatic systems in a positive way. It tightens the skin. Due to its germicidal qualities, it makes a good additive to mouthwash, gargles and toothpaste to treat mouth infections.
Other Uses Cinnamon is used as a spice in baked goods and some ethnic cuisines.
Leaves, oil, bark The leaves, oil and inner bark of the tree are used for medical and culinary uses.
The oil made from the bark is considered a toxin, irritant and sensitizer when applied to the skin. It should not be used in aromatherapy. Do not use oil in the bath. Pregnant women should not use this herb. If you suffer from a stomach or duodenal ulcer, do not use. Also avoid if you have a fever, are red and sweating or suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.
Use cinnamon with caution if you have multiple allergies or sensitivities. If pregnant, don't take more than a cup of herbal tea per day. Side effects may include sweating, an overall warm sensation, headaches, diarrhea or nausea. If you have fever or diarrhea caused by flu, food poisoning or colitis, this herb may make it worse.
Preparation and Dosage
The herb is available as an oil, a powder and as chunks to use for decoctions and tea.
For a tincture, ¼ to 1 teaspoon of the tincture can be taken at a time. It is usually combined with other herbs. For heavy menstrual periods, take the higher dose. For essential oil, a single drop of oil can be diluted in a sip of water to freshen breath and rinse the mouth. Cinnamon helps prevent gum infections. If you add 8 to 10 drops of oil in 2 ounces of water for flavoring or medicinal use.