Cinnamon trees belong to a large genus of some 250 species, most of which are aromatic. True Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon and the south-eastern coast of India, while the closely related Cassia is native to China. Cinnamon and Cassia are both small tropical evergreen trees that grow up to 20 – 30 feet tall, with aromatic bark and leaves. Young leaves employ a typical trick of tropical trees to make themselves look unappealing to predatory insects by assuming a limp, reddish appearance, as if wilting. Once they mature they perk up and darken to a deep green. The leaves are elongated ovate with a pointed tip, shiny and dark green on the upper surface, lighter below. The inconspicuous whitish flowers grow in panicles, which later develop into bluish berries. The bark is reddish brown and smooth.
Cinnamon (Dalchini) is a herb traditionally used by many ancient cultures. It is indicated for a variety of ailments including gastrointestinal problems, urinary infections, relieving symptoms of colds and flu and has remarkable anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Some studies have shown that Cinnamon helps people with diabetes metabolise sugar better.
Soothe an upset stomach – Cinnamon extracts have been used medically to treat gastrointestinal problems and to help calm the stomach. Cinnamon is a carminative, an agent that helps break up intestinal gas that has traditionally been used to combat diarrhea and morning sickness.
Clear up urinary-tract infections – Cinnamon “suppresses completely” the cause of most urinary-tract infections (Escherichia coli bacteria) and the fungus responsible for vaginal yeast infections (Candida albicans).
Allow diabetics to use less insulin – Cinnamon helps people with diabetes metabolise sugar better. In adult-onset (Type II) diabetes, the pancreas produces insulin, but the body can’t use it efficiently to break down blood sugar.
Aid digestion – Cinnamon warms and stimulates the digestive system, useful in weak digestion, colic, griping, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, wind and distension. The tannins have an astringent action, stemming bleeding in nosebleeds, heavy periods and resolving diarrhea and catarrhal congestion.
Relieve Pain – Cinnamon is considered a pain-killer due to its prostaglandin-inhibiting action.
Relieve Colds and Flu – cinnamon has been traditionally taken as a warming herb for “cold” conditions, often in combination with ginger (Zingiber officinale). The herb stimulates circulation, especially to the fingers and toes and has been used for arthritis. Cinnamon is also a traditional remedy for aching muscles and other symptoms of viral conditions such as colds and flu.