Posted March 30, 2015
Cinnamon, one of the oldest spices in the world, still is popular for cooking and many health remedies. First discovered in 2000 BC, cinnamon comes from wild trees called cinnamomum, primarily grown in warm and humid climates of the Caribbean, South America and Southeast Asia.
Two forms of cinnamon
There are two primary forms of cinnamon:
- Ceylon – Commonly used in the Western world
- Grown in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Caribbean or Brazil
- More expensive
- Not sold widely in North America
- Flavor is light, sweet and refined
- Contains less coumarin, a natural blood thinner
- Cassia – Sometimes called Saigon or Chinese cinnamon
- Primarily found in Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and China
- Less expensive
- Most popular cinnamon, available in world markets
- Flavor is robust, perfect for savory dishes
- Contains more coumarin, so very high doses may be toxic
Both types of cinnamon have manganese, a trace mineral important to maintaining healthy bones, metabolizing carbohydrates and fat. Both also are excellent sources of iron, fiber and calcium.
According to Egyptian records, cinnamon was used for embalming the deceased. And in Rome, Nero burned a year’s supply of cinnamon as a tribute to his wife following her death.
Medical News Today references many health benefits of cinnamon. Through the years it has been used to treat muscle aches and spasms, diarrhea, vomiting, infections, colds and loss of appetite. Health experts believe cinnamon also may be helpful to:
- Lower blood sugar in people with Type 1 and 2 diabetes
- Fight HIV-1 and HIV-2
- Lessen physical effects of multiple sclerosis
- Reduce impact of high-fat foods
- Assist in preventing Alzheimer’s disease
- Stop bacteria, fungus and yeast growth
- Improve digestion
Medical professionals note that some people may not be able to tolerate cinnamon. For example, people on blood thinners should not have cinnamon. And if you’re sensitive to cinnamon, please be aware that coumarin has been linked to liver damage. Of course, when in doubt, check with your physician.