Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We’ll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care.
Today, cinnamon is a well known and beloved spice that is widely available and used frequently. In ancient Egypt, it was a rarity and considered so valuable that it was regarded as a gift for kings. It was also utilized in the embalming of mummies! Cinnamon was used throughout the ancient world. Arab traders brought it to Europe but the difficulty of traveling across the region turned the spice into something of a status symbol. According to history.com,
To maintain their monopoly on the cinnamon trade and justify its exorbitant price, Arab traders wove colorful tales for their buyers about where and how they obtained the luxury spice. One such story, related by the 5th-century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus, said that enormous birds carried the cinnamon sticks to their nests perched high atop mountains that were insurmountable by any human. According to the story, people would leave large pieces of ox meat below these nests for the birds to collect. When the birds brought the meat into the nest, its weight would cause the nests to fall to the ground, allowing the cinnamon sticks stored within to be collected.
Cinnamon is actually the inner bark of trees called Cinnamomum. When it dries it curls up into quills and then is either cut into sticks or ground into a powder. It’s amazing smell is due to the oil in the bark which has high concentrations of Cinnamaldehyde. Although there are hundreds of varieties of this spice in the world, today we are best acquainted with the Ceylon and Cassia varieties.
So other than it’s amazing taste and smell, what is this spice good for? Well as sweet smelling as it is, it may help with regulating blood sugar. However studies are inconclusive so don’t get too excited about this wonder spice as an aid for diabetes just yet. That said, there are plenty of other reasons to sprinkle a little cinnamon into your diet. It’s a powerhouse of an antioxidant, even nudging out garlic and oregano for the number two spot in its potency, just behind mint. It’s also a natural and powerful anti-microbial. It’s traditionally been used in helping to preserve meat and it can be used to make a delicious smelling countertop spray to help keep germs at bay. In addition, cinnamon oil is useful in tooth and gum care and as a natural insect repellant.
Looking for some easy ways to get more cinnamon into your diet? We’ve pulled together a few links to great recipes to try. Enjoy!