Cinnamon's popularity continued throughout history. It became one of the most relied upon spices in Medieval Europe. Due to its demand, cinnamon became one of the first commodities traded regularly between the Near East and Europe.
Although available throughout the year, the fragrant, sweet and warm taste of cinnamon is a perfect spice to use during the winter months.
Cinnamon has a long history both as a spice and as a medicine. It is the brown bark of the cinnamon tree, which is available in its dried tubular form known as a quill or as ground powder. The two varieties of cinnamon, Chinese and Ceylon, have similar flavor, however the cinnamon from Ceylon is slightly sweeter, more refined and more difficult to find in local markets.
Cinnamon's unique healing abilities come from three basic types of components in the essential oils found in its bark.
Cinnamon has extremely high anti-oxidant activity, and the oil of cinnamon has strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Cinnamon is also a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium. As a result, it has been used as an effective home remedy for:
- Reducing blood sugar levels and treating Type 2 Diabetes.
- Lowering cholesterol.
- Aiding digestion.
- Treating diarrhea.
- Curing the common cold.
- Reducing arthritis pain.
- Boosting memory and cognitive function.
- Treating toothaches.
- Eliminating bad breath.
- Curing headaches and migraine pain
Cinnamon has also been valued in energy-based medical systems, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, for its warming qualities. In these traditions, cinnamon has been used to provide relief when faced with the onset of a cold or flu, especially when mixed in a tea with some fresh ginger.
Chinese medicine has long used cinnamon as a natural remedy for coughs and the common cold. A simple herbal remedy for treating a sore throat is the following:
- Add a cinnamon stick to boiling water.
- Let boil for 2 minutes.
- Remove the cinnamon stick.
- Use the cinnamon water for any herbal tea, such as green tea.
- Drink this tea two times per day.