Native to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), true cinnamon, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, dates back in Chinese writings to 2800 B.C., and is still known as kwai in the Chinese language today. Its botanical name derives from the Hebraic and Arabic term amomon, meaning fragrant spice plant. Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon in their embalming process. From their word for cannon, Italians called it canella, meaning “little tube,” which aptly describes cinnamon sticks.
In the first century A.D., Pliny the Elder wrote of 350 grams of cinnamon as being equal in value to over five kilograms of silver, about fifteen times the value of silver per weight.
Medieval physicians used cinnamon in medicines to treat coughing, hoarseness and sore throats. As a sign of remorse, Roman Emperor Nero ordered a year’s supply of cinnamon be burnt after he murdered his wife.
The spice was also valued for its preservative qualities for meat due to the phenols which inhibit the the bacteria responsible for spoilage, with the added bonus being the strong cinnamon aroma masked the stench of aged meats.
In the 17th century, the Dutch seized the world’s largest cinnamon supplier, the island of Ceylon, from the Portuguese, demanding outrageous quotas from the poor laboring Chalia caste. When the Dutch learned of a source of cinnamon along the coast of India, they bribed and threatened the local king to destroy it all, thus preserving their monopoly on the prized spice.
In 1795, England seized Ceylon from the French, who had acquired it from their victory over Holland during the Revolutionary Wars. (In the Victorian language of flowers, cinnamon means “my fortune is yours.”)
However, by 1833, the downfall of the cinnamon monopoly had begun when other countries found it could be easily grown in such areas as Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Mauritius, Réunion and Guyana. Cinnamon is now also grown in South America, the West Indies, and other tropical climates.
Cinnamon Coffee Cake
1 (12 ounce) package Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks
3/4 cup Pecan Pieces
2 cups sugar, divided
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 2/3 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
½ teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups Reduced Fat Sour Cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix chocolate, pecans, 2/3 cup of the sugar and the cinnamon; set aside. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
- Beat butter and remaining 1-1/3 cups sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with the sour cream, beating after each addition until well blended. Spoon half of the batter into greased 13×9-inch baking pan; top with half of the chocolate mixture.
- Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into 32 squares to serve.
- Toothache-Are you having toothache? Make a paste of one teaspoon of cinnamon powder and five teaspoons of honey and apply it on the aching tooth. Do this three times a day and keep it for 15 minutes each time you do so. You will be relieved!
- Reducing Cholesterol-Check cholesterol with cinnamon. Mix up two tablespoons of honey, three teaspoons of cinnamon powder and blend it with 16 ounces of tea. This is sure to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood by 10% within 2 hours.
- Weight Loss-Early in the morning (in empty stomach), drink honey and cinnamon powder boiled in one cup water to reduce your weight.
- Immunity-Strengthen your immune system with the regular intake of honey and cinnamon powder. This protects the body from bacterial and viral attacks.
- Stomach Ache-Is your tummy troubling you? Take honey with cinnamon powder in equal quantities. It relieves the pain in the stomach.
- Memory-Scientific studies show that just smelling cinnamon improves our memory and performance of certain tasks.
- Colds-Cure most chronic cough, cold and clear the sinuses easily. For 3 days take one tablespoon of lukewarm honey with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder. Trust me cinnamon mixture does cure a cold.
In a 2000 study published in The Indian Journal of Medical Research, it was shown that of the 69 plant species screened, 16 were effective against HIV-1 and 4 were against both HIV-1 and HIV-2. The most effective extracts against HIV-1 and HIV-2 were respectively Cinnamomum cassia (bark) and Cardiospermum helicacabum (shoot + fruit).
An oil known as eugenol that comes from the leaves of the cinnamon bush has been shown to have antiviral properties in vitro, specifically against both the HSV-1 and HSV-2 (Oral and Genital Herpes) viruses according to a study published in the journal, Phytotherapy Research.
A study conducted in 2007 and published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry suggests that specific plant terpenoids contained within cinnamon have potent antiviral properties.
Pharmacological experiments suggest that the cinnamon-derived dietary factor cinnamic aldehyde (cinnamaldehyde) activates the Nrf2-dependent antioxidant response in human epithelial colon cells and may therefore represent an experimental chemopreventive dietary factor targeting colorectal carcinogenesis. Recent research documents anti-melanoma activity of cinnamic aldehyde observed in cell culture and a mouse model of human melanoma.
Cinnamon bark, a component of the traditional Japanese medicine Mao-to, has been shown in a 2008 study published in the Journal of General Virology to have an antiviral therapeutic effect.
A 2011 study isolated a substance (CEppt) in the cinnamon plant which inhibits development of Alzheimer’s in mice. CEppt, an extract of cinnamon bark, seems to treat a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.