Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • October 2018
Written by 

Cinnamon — Cinnamomum verum

The leaves have started falling, the pumpkins have made their appearance at the farmers market and fall has made its welcome. The cooler temperatures call for cozy sweaters, warm soup and pumpkin treats. But a pumpkin latte, pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread are not complete without their companion: cinnamon.

Cinnamon is both a delicious spice and medicinal herb, adding flavor and sweetness to countless familiar recipes around the globe from breads and cereals to curries and stews. Cinnamon is also a well-studied medicinal herb benefiting the cardiovascular, reproductive, respiratory and digestive systems. Cinnamon is the inner bark off the young shoots of the cinnamon tree, a fast-growing evergreen tree native to Sri Lanka and Southern India, and now cultivated in several countries.

Various varieties of cinnamon can be found in most grocery stores, as well as specialty spice stores and some suggest that one variety is superior to another. True cinnamon — cinnamomum verum or ceylon cinnamon — is synonymous with C. zeylanicum and has a delicate and complex flavor, sweet with a floral citrus note. Cinnamomum cassia or cassia is a close relative of the true cinnamon, grown in China and is used interchangeably medicinally and in culinary preparation as true cinnamon, although the taste is stronger and spicier. Both varieties can be found in powder form, whole sticks and cinnamon chips.

Cinnamon contains zinc, magnesium, iron, essential oils, tannins, mucilage and coumarins, which all contribute to the medicinal benefits seen in the plant, as well as its texture. It is astringent, carminative, decongestant, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogic, expectorant, hemostatic, vasodilator; it also promotes appetite and digestion, supports blood sugar balance, and stimulates circulation.

Cinnamon can be used to make a tisane (tea) or tincture, or the powder can be sprinkled directly on foods. The tincture, made with brandy, is especially delicious when combined with other cardiovascular supporting herbs: rose, yarrow, hawthorn, motherwort, etc., and made into a cordial. The powder can be combined with ginger and added to baths for athlete’s foot, chills or sore muscles. It can also be added to toothpaste to inhibit bacteria and freshen breath.

Enjoy cinnamon in Mexican stews or Indian curries, as well as desserts and holiday recipes. Large amounts of cinnamon should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation. Skin irritation from powdered cinnamon is possible. As always, please talk to your health care provider before adding herbs into your diet. 

Enjoy these recipes all season long!

Cinnamon Honey

Mason jar with 8-ounce wide mouth, or something similar

Powdered cinnamon to fill the jar ¼ full

Fill the jar to ½ or ¾ full with raw honey

Method: Add the cinnamon powder to the jar and cover with raw, unfiltered honey or maple syrup. Mix with a spoon until fully incorporated and it has a smooth texture. Spread this on toast, warm rolls, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, cereal, etc. This can also be used to make instant tea. Add a teaspoon to a coffee mug and fill with boiling water.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon cloves

Method: Combine and keep in a jar for use on everything this fall. Pumpkin bread, pie, muffins, pumpkin chai tea lattes or pumpkin coffee, golden milk, granola, oatmeal, popcorn, etc. The options are endless. Enjoy this blend all season long.

Chai Tea

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon black peppercorns

½ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon fennel

7 cardamom pods

1 star anise

1 teaspoon Darjeeling black tea

Method: Add herbs (except black tea) and 1 quart filtered water to a saucepot. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. Add black tea and steep for 3 minutes. Strain. Add milk and maple syrup as desired.

References: “Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide.” North Adams, MA, Storey Publishing. Rosemary Gladstar. 2012.

“Herbal Therapy & Supplements: A Scientific and Traditional Approach.” Wolters Kluwer Health. Merrily Kuhn and David Winston. 2008.

“The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.” Laguna Beach, Basic Health Publications, Inc. Bridgette Mars. 2007.

Dana Schlies

Dana is a Certified Women’s Herbal Educator and Community Herbalist. She is passionate about educating women about the many botanical and alternative methods to bring the body into balance and create vibrant, healthy living. She utilizes a comprehensive approach including environment, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and botanicals to bring support to the whole body. She is part of the team at Sweet Willow Naturals, and can be reached at 920-530-1188 or [email protected]

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