CINNAMON (Cinnamomum spp.): Origin: native to South and Southeast Asia. It was long held that the geographical region where cinnamon abounded consisted of valleys filled with poisonous snakes; therefore, cinnamon harvesters wore bandages on their hands and feet for protection. A variety of ancient Egyptian records reveal that king Ramesses II (c. 1213-1279 BCE) presented bundles and sticks of cinnamon to different Egyptian gods. An Ancient Egyptian medical prescription to “expel burning in the lower part of the belly” incorporated a mixture of figs and cinnamon blended with honey. This was smeared over the belly of the patient then. Cinnamon is mentioned in the Book of Proverbs (7:17) where it is written: I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.

The Gerarde herbal provides the following: cinnamon is dry and astringent, provokes urine, clears the eyes, and sweetens the breath; use will prevail against bites of venomous beasts, and can be used to treat inflammation of the intestines. Cinnamon mixed with distilled water is profitable for a range of infirmities as it comforts weak, cold, and feeble stomachs, eases pains and frettings of the guts and intrailes, adds color to the face, makes the breath sweet, provides nice flavors to different sorts of meats [foods] and makes them pleasant. Cinnamon oil prevails against breast pains, comforts the stomach, improves digestion, and when mixed with honey and applied to the face will remove spots.

Throughout the centuries cinnamon has been used as a breath sweetener, tonic, and medicinal ingredient to treat heart, stomach, liver, kidney, and nervous disorders. Other uses of cinnamon have been as a calming sedative during childbirth. (Summarized from: Gerarde, 1597, pp.1 348-1349; Skinner, 1911, pp. 87-88; Colin, 1962, p. pp. 24-25; Lehner and Lehner, 1962, p. 116; Darby, Ghalioungui, and Grivetti, 1997, Vol. 2. p. 803).

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