Medicinal Herbs in the Kitchen: Cinnamon
This post is the first part of a “Medicinal Herbs in the Kitchen” ongoing article series, where I regularly share the benefits of medicinal herbs and spices you can use in your own kitchen, and how to use them. Many medicinal plants (including every day herbs + spices) have been in use for thousands of years. Specifically for women’s health concerns, these plants assist in hormonal balance, stress relief, healthy digestion and more.
What is Cinnamon
Just one of a tastiest damn spices in your kitchen! In all seriousness, cinnamon is the inner bark from a species of trees known as Cinnamomum. The oils contained within the bark are what have the medicinal properties.
How You Might Know It
There are many common uses for cinnamon in our western culture, although the spice does not originate here. Everything from cinnamon rolls and apple pie to chai tea and churros, we tend to use this spice a lot! But if you notice, most of them are a sweet use- in desserts. Throughout the globe, cinnamon isn’t just used for a sweet application, but also savoury. You’ll find it often in Moroccan cuisine and in some curries.
Why Use It
SO many reasons. I’m only going to list the main ones here, but cinnamon is a great multi-purpose spice and medicinal.
Blood Sugar Balance: Improvement was seen in glycemic control in a meta-study of people taking cinnamon . It wasn’t just great for diabetics either- even those with a bit of sugar issues (like perhaps women with PCOS). It also helped to reduce fasting and postprandial (aka after-eating)glucose testing and the HbA1C test.
Bonus if you pair it with ginger- studies have shown that insulin sensitivity increased and weight decreased when they’re together.
Removes Stagnation in the Body: In the eastern ancient medical practices of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, cinnamon is used to bring warmth to a cold uterus. There are so many reasons that this happens, including PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, irregular periods and sedentary lifestyle. Cinnamon helps to increase circulation and remove stagnation in this way.
Acne: If you’re waking up saying “Crap! I thought sore pimples were for teenagers!” then cinnamon might be right for you.
Cinnamon is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant- making it a triple hitter for acne. My fav way to use it is by mixing with local raw honey and using that as a face cleanser!
Colds, Flus and Other Infections: Cinnamon is a potent anti-microbial, making it a great defence against common maladies like colds and flu- even urinary infections! Make cinnamon tea or use it in a nourishing stew to bring yourself back to health.
Digestion: Remember we talked about the warming quality of cinnamon according to Ayurveda and TCM? Well- it works for digestion too! Cinnamon as a warming spice can help to warm up the digestive system and ready it for the food you’re eating.
Hormones: For one thing, cinnamon as we know helps with blood sugar balance. Without proper blood sugar balance, you aren’t able to ovulate regularly and with vibrancy. Proper glucose control ensures a regular and easy cycle (and enhanced fertility!). Also, it is warming to your reproductive organs, ensuring proper blood flow.
Brain Health: Memory, visual recognition and motor speed were all improved in study participants who only took a whiff of cinnamon! Isn’t that insane power! Not to mention the manganese in cinnamon is essential for optimal brain and nerve function.
Cancer: A shitty thing to even have to consider- but cinnamon has some potential anti-cancer properties. Although like many remedies, using it for prevention is better than having to use it after a diagnosis. Cinnamon has been show beneficial for cervical cancer.
How to Use It
However you want, unless it’s for those sweet concoctions I mentioned at the beginning! (Maybe a homemade sourdough cinnamon roll with coconut sugar might not be bad once in awhile…). Just because cinnamon can regulate your blood sugar doesn’t mean you can have a free-for-all at the next Cinnamon Festival dessert table!
Here are some better ideas:
- Sprinkle 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon in food daily- especially in the morning to set yourself up for a great blood sugar day!
- Make cinnamon tea with a cinnamon stick boiled (covered) in water for 10-20 minutes.
- Drink some Detox Tea– super great formula with cinnamon AND ginger, plus the bonus of balancing your hormones at the same time. Win-Win.