Issue 151    December 1st   to March 1st 2022

Barking up the Cinnamon Tree

Cinnamon is a favourite household spice, and has been used around the world for centuries. Once traded as currency, this spice has a pleasant flavour and warm smell that has made it popular in cooking, particularly in baking and curries. But what of its medicinal and soothing properties? Liz Chandler from Natures Corner Northbrook Street Newbury reveals another side to this amber bark.

Cinnamon spice comes from the inner bark of a small evergreen tree. The bark is peeled and laid in the sun to dry, where it curls up into rolls known as cinnamon sticks. Cinnamon is also available in powdered form and the tree thrives in tropical regions, where the main variety is Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka.

Blood sugar levels 

Evidence suggests that cinnamon can have a moderate effect in improving glycaemic control and supporting blood sugar levels, helping to reduce sugar cravings. Ideal for the post festive season. It can be combined with chromium and taken as a capsule to further aid the New Year detox.

Anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties

The distinctive smell and flavour of cinnamon comes from the essential oils contained in the bark, called cinnamaldehyde, which display anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects 

Cinnamon also contains large amounts of polyphenol antioxidants. Antioxidants can help protect the body from disease and are found in fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. The antioxidants in cinnamon have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects.

Prebiotic properties may improve gut health

Some spices, including cinnamon, have prebiotic properties that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and help suppress the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Therefore, including spices regularly in your diet may help improve gut health. Cinnamon is also a useful source of manganese and contains small amounts of calcium and fibre.

Relieves digestive discomfort

Cinnamon extract has been used to alleviate gastrointestinal problems in both Eastern and Western medicine for years. It has been described as a carminative, renowned for its digestive, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, cinnamon bark oil is used for treating flatulence and digestive imbalance. It is believed that the warmth of cinnamon increases blood flow and improves blood oxygen levels to help fight off illness. To alleviate digestive symptoms, cinnamon is taken as part of a hot drink (much like a tea). In this instance, it’s easier to use ground cinnamon rather than trying to grate cinnamon sticks yourself, or try cinnamon teabags.

During the winter months, make the most of warming cinnamon bark or powder, by rustling up a tasty treat and improving your health at the same time.