Ceylon Cinnamon in traditional medicine
From Health and Wellness
|The leaf oil of Ceylon Cinnamon, which is different in composition from bark oil, is also used in tonics, antiseptics and in remedies for intestinal gas, nausea, colds, and hypertension.|
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(Uploaded by kb3bzy on 14 May 2010)
Ceylon Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), also known as "true cinnamon" is a tree that is indigenous to Sri Lanka, growing semi-wildly in moist lowlands. Spice obtained from its inner bark was the most sought after spice in Europe from the 16th to the 18th century as its quality is more superior than its close relative, Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia). Other than for culinary purposes, oil obtained from the cinnamom bark is also popularly used in flavoring and perfumery, as well as in dental and pharmaceutical products. In the global market, cinnamon is used in products such as Arthritin which is recommended for patients with arthritis and rheumatism. The leaf oil, which is different in composition from bark oil, is also used in tonics, antiseptics and in remedies for intestinal gas, nausea, colds, and hypertension. Currently, Sri Lanka and Madagascar are the major producers of cinnamon.
2. Plant description: Ceylon Cinnamon grows up to a height of 6 meters (20 ft) although occasionally, heights of up to 12 meter (40 ft) have also been observed. It thrives in sandy loam, loose moist soil with a lot of organic material. The trunk is stout, about 30-60 cm (2-3 ft) in diameter and when matured, is covered with a thick grey bark. The branches are low-set and very bushy. The young leaves are reddish in color, turning to lighter green and then finally to deep green. The deep green leaves are linear-elliptical in shape, measuring about 7-10 cm (3-4 in) long and 3-5 cm (1-2 in) wide. Flowers are small and yellow in color. The fruit is a black fleshy ovoid drupe, measuring about 1.5-2.0 cm (0.6-0.8 in) in length, when ripe.
Cinnamon is propagated either by seeds or by rootstock cuttings. The advantage of using rootstock is that the stems can be harvested in about 12-18 months, as compared to 3 years for seedlings. The stems are harvested during the rainy season as it facilitates peeling of the bark. The first harvest is normally of inferior quality, as compared to subsequent harvests. The best bark quality is obtained from the middle portion of the shoots that arise from the center of the tree. The yield decreases after 10 years. The chief pest attacking cinnamon is the boring caterpillar, which eats the shoots. Gall (due to mites) and leaf fungus have also been recorded to attack cinnamon leaves and twigs.
3. Medicinal properties of Ceylon Cinnamon: Ceylon Cinnamon has the following medicinal properties:
- antibacterial that kills or slows down the growth of bacteria;
- antiviral that can treat viral infections;
- antifungal that can treat fungal infections;
- antioxidant that is capable of inhibiting oxidation and thus aid in preventing some types of diseases;
- antinociceptive that can reduce sensitivity to painful stimuli; and
- hypotensive that is capable of lowering blood pressure.
4. Uses in traditional medicine: The bark of Ceylon Cinnamon is used for the following:
- boils and abcesses, using steamed bruised bark for external applications as a heating pad;
- acute and chronic rheumatism, using volatile cinnamon oil which is rubefacient (substance for external application that produces redness of the skin, e.g. by causing dilation of the capillaries and increasing the blood circulation);
- disorders of the digestive system:
- disorders of the respiratory system:
- cough, by easing mucous secretion;
- chest problems;
- bronchitis (inflammation of the mucous membranes of the bronchi, the airways that carry airflow from the trachea into the lungs);
- dysentery (inflammation of the intestine, especially of the colon, resulting in severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the feces, with fever and abdominal pain);
- gangrene of the lungs (death of a considerable mass of lung tissues);
- tuberculosis, using crystalline cinnamic acid which is antitubercular as an injection.
- high blood pressure;
- cancer, when used in massive doses.
- amenorrhea (absence of a menstrual period in a woman of reproductive age), using root skin or young twigs;