Cinnamon – A Seasonal Craving with Powerful Health Benefits

Cinnamon – A Seasonal Craving with Powerful Health Benefits

Cinnamon – A Seasonal Craving with [Powerful] Health Benefits

Note: I am honored to have my work originally published with Health Insiders.

All around town, the deep mellow flavor and distinct aroma of cinnamon are abundant in corner coffee shops and pretty bakeries. My personal go-to drink this time of year is my homemade Chai tea. The warm generous spices, especially cinnamon, are a delight to my morning palette.

In my humble opinion, almost nothing is more enticing than the aroma of cinnamon wafting through a cozy kitchen. 

Harvesting Cinnamon

During harvest, branches from tropical evergreen trees are chopped off. The outer bark is peeled away revealing an inner bark of the wondrous cinnamon. This is aptly called, cinnamon bark or sweet wood.

As the thin layer of brown bark dries, it coils into the familiar spiral which you purchase from your local grocer. Grinding turns the bark into the rich brown powder that you commonly use in drinks, baked goods, and sachets. 

Powerful Oil

That familiar smell and flavor of cinnamon come from an oil called cinnamaldehyde. This oil is actually bottled as an essential oil. It is an ancient oil known for numerous health benefits. 

As our culture looks for healthier options personalizing health, the popularity and knowledge of using essential oils are on the rise. Major essential oil companies all have their own special brand of cinnamon oil or an oil blend using cinnamon.

Cinnamon essential oil is known as a natural health remedy. It is commonly used for limiting the duration of a cold and soothing a sore throat. The warm brown spice is packed with antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties.

It is interesting to note that Cinnamon Essential Oil can be attained from either the tree’s outer bark or its leaves. The two main varieties are Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil and Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil.

Using a diffuser is a wonderful way to use this warm spicy oil. Breathing the oil is known as aromatherapy. This can diminish feelings of depression, faintness, and exhaustion. This oil is known to boost immunity. 

A cinnamon essential oil can be used topically. You can easily mix the cinnamon essential oil with jojoba oil and place it into a rollerball application. Rolling it onto your skin is known to alleviate aches, pains, and stiffness in muscles and joints. It addresses acne, rashes, and skin infections. 

Did you know that you can also use cinnamon oil to nourish the skin, slow the look of aging, and boost overall skin tone? 

Two Types

Not all cinnamons are created equal. Ceylon is a beneficial cinnamon regarded for its lighter, more complex flavor found in Sri Lanka. Cassia is a cheap lesser version grown in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. In America, the FDA allows for both kinds to be listed as cinnamon. 

Ceylon has wonderful wellness benefits. But, more than a teaspoon of Cassia daily might lead to liver toxicity and damage the kidney because of its coumarin content. Be savvy reading the back label choosing Ceylon cinnamon.

Ethnic markets and local grocery stores sell both varieties. Select organically grown Ceylon for the healthiest option.

Health Benefits

This earthy spice is a champion known for balancing blood sugar. Cinnamon slows the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream. In fact, in a recent Pubmed article, it showed that Ceylon cinnamon can lower blood sugar by an impressive 29%.

This magical effect on blood glucose levels can also assist your body in ultimately losing weight. One teaspoon contains 1.6 grams of fiber. This can help you increase a feeling of fullness at meals encouraging weight loss. 

Did you know that Anti-inflammatory properties are present in cinnamon? In this study, it was shown that spices demonstrated a high antioxidant capacity. Cinnamon is full of polyphenols which is why it is antioxidant-rich. 

Interestingly, cinnamon has been used as a tooth powder to treat toothaches. It assists dental problems by reducing oral microbiota and bad breath. For this reason, it’s a popular ingredient in chewing gum. 

If you are having a struggle with lowering your triglycerides and cholesterol, cinnamon can help. This study showed that triglycerides dropped by a whopping 23 to 30% by consuming 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon for 40 days. 

According to Dr. Ashutosh Gautam, having a cinnamon stick soaked in warm water with a few drops of honey about two or three times a day can help clear a sore throat and cold.

Culinary Uses

Throughout the world, this warm earthy alluring spice is tucked away in kitchen cupboards everywhere. From the most exclusive culinary kitchens to small rustic cabins. In fact, cinnamon is recognized in nearly all cultures worldwide. 

Cinnamon has a long history of culinary uses, adding spice to desserts, entrees, and hot drinks. Here are some fantastic and interesting edible uses.

  • Baking with cinnamon in homemade cakes and biscuits.
  • Sprinkle it on apple crumble or pie.
  • It can be used in a recipe for mulled wine.
  • Dust your yogurt, chia seed pudding, or whipping cream with cinnamon.
  • Sprinkle it into tea or coffee.
  • Boil a cinnamon stick with warm milk.
  • Added it to plain rice dishes.
  • For an interesting back note, use it in hot meat dishes or Indian rice ‘pulao’ dishes.
  • Ground cinnamon is a considerable addition to fruit desserts. 
  • When the butter is melting on your hot breakfast french toast, dust it with cinnamon. 
  • Add a sprinkle to top warm rice pudding. 
  • It is delectable in marinades for beef or lamb.
  • Cinnamon offers a unique taste when added to black beans.

Storing Cinnamon

Cinnamon sticks should be stored in a glass container and kept in the refrigerator for the best level of freshness. The cool dark place preserves the quality of the bark. Make sure the lid is secured tightly, eliminating moisture.

For optimal shelf life, fresh ground cinnamon can be kept either in the freezer or the refrigerator. Fresh ground cinnamon can be kept up to about 6 months in a cupboard without refrigeration. 

The best source of freshness is, of course, your nose! 

Household Recipes

1. The Scent of the Season: 

In a reusable squirt bottle, combine water with a few drops of cinnamon essential oil. Spray this throughout your home to eliminate odor.

2, Massage Magic: 

This lovely oil can aid in a relaxing massage. Combine 1⁄2 cup almond or jojoba oil, 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon oil and 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract in a clean container. Shake gently. To soften skin, this oil is especially nice added into a warm bath as well.

3. Stomach Soother: 

Like ginger, cinnamon contains catechins, which can assist in relieving nausea. To make cinnamon tea, boil 1 teaspoon cinnamon bark in a cup of water for about 8 minutes. Strain and drink while it’s warm.

4. Cinnamon Cleaner: 

Here’s a recipe to make a gorgeous wintry-scented all-purpose cleaner. In a large reusable spray bottle, combine 1-1⁄2 cups pure white vinegar, 1-1⁄2 cups water and 30 drops cinnamon essential oil. 

Home Infused

Sending the cinnamon aroma spilling into the nooks and crannies throughout your home is easy. Your home is certain to smell like the holidays! Here are some lovely ideas.

  • Sprinkle a small amount of powdered cinnamon into boiling water on the stovetop and then simmer. Spice up your kitchen aroma even more by adding cloves, nutmeg, orange peels, and a bit of anise.
  • Dust the top of your candles with powdered cinnamon.  
  • Add a dash of cinnamon to wax in your favorite candle warmer. 
  • Naturally permeate your entire kitchen by baking with this warm dark spice.
  • Place cinnamon in a ceramic pot near your fireplace, radiator or clothes dryer.
  • Add it into pretty homemade sachets.
  • Scatter some cinnamon powder over the dirt on your pretty house plants.
  • Add it onto your favorite decorative items like pinecones or wreaths.

Final Thought

Lastly, note that cinnamon was highly valued by ancient cultures. The Egyptians, Arabs, Chinese, and Ayurvedic medicine practitioners throughout the world have used it for thousands of years. Whether in the extract, oil, tea, or herb, cinnamon has provided people with a wide range of natural culinary and health applications for centuries. 

Go ahead, enjoy your favorite cinnamon craving today!

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