Cinnamon is a lovely earthy warm spice. It has been prized for its medicinal properties over the centuries. In the colder months its use in aromatherapy oil can provide a comforting aroma. Combined with clove oil, sweet orange and ginger oils, it can make a lovely warm strengthening blend to spice up and warm the home and make us feel comforted.
Cinnamon spice sticks were used widely throughout the ancient world in cooking and to preserve meats through the winter. It was added to wine to give flavour and still a main ingredient in Mulled Wine today. It was also used as an agent in the embalming process in Ancient Egypt. It was a prized spice, transported by the Arabs along the silk and spice roads. Nowadays it is easy to obtain and there are two main types. The more expensive “Ceylon” and the cheaper “Cassia” which mainly originates form Indonesia and is stronger in smell and flavour.
Cinnamon spice powder is lovely to add warmth to biscuits, buns and porridge. Some of my patients ask me if it has health benefits. Well certainly it is useful to add flavour to home baked treats such as buns. If you bake at home yourself you can replace some of the sugar with the spice and so reduce your sugar intake. In 2003 there was an interesting article published in the journal Diabetes Care. The author added different doses of Cassia cinnamon powder to the diet of three groups of diabetic patients for 40 days. They took this cinnamon alongside their usual diabetes medicine. All three groups reported favourable changes in their blood sugar control. The study then lead to many recommendations in the popular press at how wonderful cinnamon could be for blood sugar control, especially in Diabetic patients. Studies published after this have not always come up with the same results. They have either shown no effect or possible mild benefits and so the jury is still out.
Adding cinnamon to warm milk or in cooking or meals may be beneficial in helping us to cut down on sugar and may possibly help with blood sugar control by promoting sensitivity to insulin in small amounts. A warm cinnamon milk drink at bedtime may also help us to relax if we are having problems sleeping. However, as with anything there is a balance. Cassia cinnamon also contains small traces of Coumarin which can affect the liver and blood clotting regulation. So if you are a patient on blood thinners or have a clotting disorder it would be wise to speak to your doctor about using cinnamon.
In small does cinnamon is very safe and very pleasant and may be a welcome spice to welcome in the Autumnal season.