Cinnamon

Ceylon vs Cassia

 Brief:

Cinnamon is an alkaline ash spice that can help offset the acid ash property of protein powder if you’re making an organic smoothie.

Healthy teeth and gums come from brushing after every meal or snack and flossing; BUT that is ONLY 20% of the equation.

The much more important cause of healthy teeth and gums (80% of the equation) is NUTRITION, which can only come from supplementing.

Washing down you morning vitamins & chlorella with an organic smoothie (enhanced with nutritional powders) is one piece of the lifestyle puzzle that’s necessary to achieve health in the increasingly barbaric U.S. environment.

My experience:

Years ago, I went to a health food store to pick up cinnamon and noticed something I never saw before, “Ceylon” cinnamon.  I asked the owner of the health food store what “Ceylon” meant and how it was different from the regular cinnamon, and she didn’t know.

 
The next week, I went to a different health food store and showed the owner the bottle of Ceylon cinnamon she had on the shelf and asked her how it was different then the regular cinnamon, and she didn’t know either.
   

 


Cinnamon comes from the fragrant inner bark of a group of small tropical evergreen trees calledCinnamomum.

     

Properties of Cinnamon

– stimulates salvation, treats indigestion, & reduces flatulence,
– an expectorant and suitable for coughs & bronchitis,
– chewing cinnamon attacks the bacteria that cause bad breath,
– one of the best aphrodisiacs.

There are two
major types
of cinnamon:
 
– Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum =
Cinnamomum zelyanicum).
&
– Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromaticum).
 

 

 Ceylon Cinnamon

Sri Lanka (previously known as Ceylon) is a tiny island off the coast of India and is the largest producer of Ceylon cinnamon.

Often referred to as “true” or “real” cinnamon (or Canela in Mexico), Ceylon cinnamon is considered a finer quality cinnamon due to its sweeter, more delicate, and complex flavor.

 


IMPORTANT NOTE: Ceylon cinnamon is NOT the predominant cinnamon sold in the United States. What is commonly found in the U.S. is a cheaper variety called Cassia cinnamon, which comes from a different plant called Cinnamomumcassia.

 

 Cassia Cinnamon

Native to Burma and also grown in China and Vietnam.  Cassia is slightly darker in color (compared to Ceylon), and has a stronger, more pungent flavor.

 

 

   

Ceylon Cinnamon 

Comes from Sri Lanka.


Most common in Europe.


Price can be 10xs the Chinese Cassia cinnamon.


Tan in color.


Thin and paper-like textured bark that forms multiple layers when rolled up.


Quills are fragile and easily broken.

Delicate, sweet flavor with subtle hints of clove.

 

Cassia Cinnamon

Comes from China & Indonesia.



Mostly used in the U.S. & Canada.


Cheap.  You can get a bag of the quill sticks for a dollar.


Reddish brown in color.


Uneven thick bark that forms only a few layers when rolled up.


Tough, difficult to grind into powder.

Pungent, full-bodied taste.


Quills (cinnamon sticks)
Cinnamon trees are typically grown for two to three years, and then trimmed using a method referred to as coppicing, which results in a dozen or more new shoots being formed the following year. Once the new shoots are ready for harvesting, the bark is peeled away from the tree and dried. As the bark dries, it naturally curls up into cinnamon’s characteristic rolls that are called “quills.” Quills have a texture that lets you differentiate Ceylon from Cassia.
When you look at the end of a quill, the Ceylon cinnamon sticks (true cinnamon) show multiple (tan) layers of thin bark.     In the case of Cassia, the cinnamon sticks will have one thick (reddish brown) bark layer.

Boosting Brain Function
If people at the holiday dinner table seem especially alert when the cinnamon spiced pumpkin pie is being served, it might be because of its scent, not just an appetite for sweets. A 2004 study found that the smell of cinnamon helped boost brain function.
Study participants performance on tasks involving virtual recognition memory, attention processes, working memory, and visual-motor speed while using a computer were measured comparing the relative effects of jasmine, peppermint, cinnamon, and no odor. Cinnamon had the strongest positive effect on study subjects’ cognitive processing skills.

  Cinnamaldehydegives cinnamon its characteristic flavor and aroma.

It was isolated in 1834 and makes up 65-90% of cinnamon essential oil (while the essential oil makes up 1-4% of the bark).

This oily, viscous, pale yellow liquid occurs naturally in the bark of cinnamon trees ( and other species of the genus Cinnamomum) and is commonly obtained from steam distillation of the cinnamon bark oil.

 

Cinnamaldehyde is mainly used as a flavoring agent or as a scent for candles. It is non-toxic but can irritate skin if in contact for too long. As with many components of essential oils, cinnamaldehyde displays anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It is also reported to be a good pesticide.

These properties support the medicinal and soothing properties of cinnamon bark. A minor component of cinnamon oil is eugenol, which makes up about 10% of the oil and displays antiseptic and analgesic properties which may also contribute to cinnamon’s soothing effect.

In addition to flavor, a critical difference between “true” Ceylon cinnamon and the lower quality Cassia cinnamon is the coumarin content.

Coumarin is a natural occurring plant toxin with strong anticoagulant/blood thinning properties.
  The coumarin level in real Ceylon cinnamon is negligibly small, while that in Chinese Cassia cinnamon is an appalling 1,200 times higher.

Humans metabolize coumarin to 7-hydroxycoumarin, a toxin damaging to the liver and kidneys. Rodents metabolize coumarin to 3,4-coumarin epoxide, a highly toxic compound, making coumarin a common ingredient in rodenticides.

The German FDA has warned against consuming the excessive intake of Cassia bark due to its coumarin content. Cassia cinnamon is the main source of coumarin in the human diet.


Health Benefits
Both types of cinnamon have health benefits, including the following:

1. Diabetes.
There may be a touch of ancient wisdom at work in all the recipes that combine cinnamon with high-carb and high-fat ingredients. Cinnamon can mitigate the impact these foods have on blood sugar levels, slowing the rate at which the stomach empties after meals and thereby reducing the potential spike in blood sugar.
Cinnamon can offer aid to people who have type 2 diabetes by preventing insulin resistance and has even been recommended by the American Diabetes Association.
Research has shown cinnamon outperforms diabetes drugs. In a study published in The Journal of Diabetic Medicine, research subjects given cinnamon supplements experienced greater improvement in blood sugar levels than those who received standard diabetes drugs.
Recent studies have found that cinnamon may help control blood sugar levels. In 2003, Diabetes Care found that people with type 2 diabetes who took 1,3, or 6 grams of cinnamon reduced their fasting blood sugar glucose levels by 18-29 percent, and also reduced triglycerides by 23-30 percent.
Studies indicate that cinnamon supplements go beyond just improving blood glucose levels; they can also reduce body fat percentage and help increase lean muscle mass.

2. Alzheimer’s Disease.
According to a 2009 study, extracts of Ceylon cinnamon inhibited the formation of proteins and filaments that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers isolated a certain flavonoid (proanthocyanidin) from the cinnamon and determined it had the majority of the inhibitory properties.

3. Cancer.
One animal study found that a particular component in cinnamon impaired the proliferation of cancer cells and slowed tumor growth. A second study published in 2010 also found that cinnamon extracts were directly linked with anti-tumor effects.

 

4. Anti-inflammatory.

A study from South Korea found that compounds from Cassia cinnamon had promise as an anti-inflammatory agent , with potential in treating dyspepsia, gastritis, and inflammatory diseases.

  5. Anti-microbial.

Cinnamon has the ability to inhibit growth of harmful bacteria, molds, and yeasts, including Candida yeast.

 

  In a 2003 study, two batches of vegetable broth were refrigerated, one with, and one without cinnamon oil. The broth with the cinnamon oil was resistant to food borne pathogenic Bacillus cereus for at least 60 days.

Researchers in this study observed that the cinnamon not only served as an effective preservative but also improved the flavor of the broth.

  In another study, researchers at Kansas State University discovered that cinnamon eliminates E.Coli in unpasteurized apple cider.

A 2007 study found that even low concentrations boosted the activity of the antibiotic “clindamycin.” The study authors wrote that the results suggested that cinnamon could be used in combination therapy against certain stubborn strains of bacterial infections.

6. Anti-Viral.

During the 1918 influenza outbreak, workers at cinnamon factories seemed immune to the Spanish flu, which decimated the population.
An Israeli researcher, taking a cue from a Biblical reference to high priests using a holy oil containing cinnamon, in 2007 developed a powerful cinnamon extract which may protect against modern viruses like the Avian flu.
 

Ayurveda, the ancient healing system of India, often uses cinnamon to stimulate circulation as well as to increase the bio-availability of other herbs. Ayurvedic healers, prescribe remedies based on an individual’s dosha or type.
  Ayurveda sees cinnamon as an appropriate remedy for people who belong to the kapha type (characterized as sturdy, heavy, calm, slow, and moist) and the vata type (thin, cold, prone to nervousness) since cinnamon tends to have a heating and energizing effect.

People who belong to the the pitta type (fiery, oily, sharp) can partake of cinnamon in moderation.

 

 In native Ayurvedic medicine, cinnamon is considered a remedy for respiratory, digestive, and gynecological ailments.  Recent studies emerging from western countries have shown many potentially beneficial health effects of cinnamon such as anti-inflammatory properties, anti-microbial activity, blodd glucose control, reducing cardiovascular disease, boosting cognitive function, and reducing risk of colonic cancer.

Dr. Taras (in the striped shirt) at an Ayuvedic retreat with NYC Ayurvedic physician Dr. Scott Gerson (white shirt) in 1993.


History

Cinnamon has been used throughout history and is one of the oldest spices known to humans.

The ancient Egyptians knew it well, as is apparent in the drawings found in the pyramids. It was imported from China 2,000 years B.C. The Egyptians had many uses for cinnamon, including as a spice for beverages, a medicinal herb, and even as an embalming agent.

 

 

 Cinnamon was highly valued in ancient China and was mentioned in 2,700 B.C. in on e of the earliest Chinese botanical medicine books.  Herbalists and acupuncturists in Chinese tradition value cinnamon for its warming qualities.

Doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may prescribe cinnamon, often in combination with another warming substance such as ginger, to ward off colds.  TCM healers may prescribe cinnamon for disorders associated with the kidney meridian.


In Greece and Rome cinnamon was frequently used to improve digestion. It is believed that cinnamon, along with pepper and cardamon, were the first spices to be used in the Mediterranean area.

Nero, a Roman emperor who ruled during the first century A.D. is reported to have burned a year supply of cinnamon at the funeral of his second wife, Poppaea Sabina. This extravagant act was carried out to indicate the extent of remorse he felt after allegedly murdering her (it is thought that he kicked her to death).

 
  Cinnamon became very popular during theMiddle Agesand was used to help meld the flavors of meats and fruits that were commonly cooked together in a casserole-like meal. Mince Pie is an example of a food that is derived form the Middle Ages that is still eaten by come today.

 
In theWest, cinnamon has always been restricted to the wealthier classes because they could afford the prohibitive price of this spice brought from more remote places.

Precautions
The use of preparations of cinnamon is contraindicated in pregnant of lactating women. Its use stimulates the movements of the uterus which can cause abortions.
Women who wish to become pregnant should not take cinnamon because it is believed to have contraceptive properties. In fact, in India, the women take cinnamon after childbirth to delay a possible pregnancy.
Cinnamon bark, taken in excess or prolonged use, is toxic and can cause burning mouth, ulcers, or sores in the mouth. In high doses it can be responsible for breathing difficulties or seizures.
At therapeutic doses (2-4 grams daily) , it can cause diarrhea, gastritis, or allergic reaction in some people.
The essential oil is obtained by distilling the leaves or inner bark of the cinnamon plant. The cinnamon leaf oil should only be administered under the care of a qualified Holistic practitioner (traditional physicians should obviously be avoided). Cinnamon’s use may be responsible for the occurrence of digestive or kidney problems. In external use, it should be diluted and used with caution to avoid irritation.

Storage Tips
Like all other spices, cinnamon loses its strength in fragrance and color over time. Store your cinnamon powder or quills in air tight bottles, in a cool place, away from any moisture, sunlight, or heat. Racks above the stove or near a window are poor choices.
Refrigerating spices is not recommended due to the high humidity level in fridges. For large quantities of spices, you may want to store them in air tight containers in the freezer compartment. The shelf life of properly stored cinnamon is about 4-5 years for whole cinnamon and 2-3 years for ground cinnamon.