One of the biggest changes to my diet when I first started learning Ayurveda was the significant addition of spices and herbs to all of my meals. Not only for increasing the layers of taste and enjoyment but especially for medicinal purposes. Food is truly medicine and spices and herbs are an integral part of your apothecary.
So many spices and herbs! I was dumbfounded how these potent little magical superstars were never a part of my college education when I was studying to be a nutritionist. For several reasons, the typical American diet is often quite bland and doesn’t make use of the myriad of spices and herbs like many other ancient cultures do with a long food history.
There is a wealth of medicine available to us with a simple shake or sprinkle of a whole host of beautiful plants that we delegate in the Western world as condiments. But the word condiment does not honor the real value of these highly medicinal herbaceous allies.
One of these allies is Cinnamon. For thousands of years, Ayurveda has prized cinnamon for its sweet taste and various medicinal properties.
Cinnamon properties & some medicinal uses
Cinnamon is brownish-red in color and is obtained from the bark of the trees belonging to the Cinnamomum family. Known as ‘tvak’ (meaning bark) in Sanskrit, we use the bark in the form of a powder or the oil from the leaves.
Cinnamon is sweet, astringent, and pungent and imparts a heating energy which makes it a natural digestive aid for a cold, slow, and sluggish digestion. Just as bark protects the tree, cinnamon protects and strengthens the intestines. These qualities make cinnamon pacifying to Vata and Kapha dosha, but can be aggravating to Pitta dosha.
Studies have shown that Cinnamon may have insulin-like action in the body giving it the ability to lower and maintain blood sugar levels, thereby imparting the feeling of satiety and contentment and deeming it an anti-diabetic spice.
Trying to curb your craving for sweets? Add some cinnamon tea to your evening routine. Cinnamon tea could make a lovely dessert!
In addition, Cinnamon improves metabolism, helping move toxins out of the body, and targets abdominal fat for use as energy.
Dealing with some stubborn belly fat or trying to lose weight? Add cinnamon to your daily regimen.
Cinnamon also has antifungal properties which can be helpful in balancing intestinal flora. This is a great spice to add to an anti-Candida diet for this reason.
The stimulating effect of cinnamon is very helpful for the circulatory system as it encourages sweating and increases circulation to the joints, making cinnamon very supportive for those trying to manage arthritis or Raynaud’s syndrome. This same quality is also helpful for clearing mucus from the body when dealing with any cold, cough, sinus congestion, or bronchitis.
For those who deal with painful menstrual cycles, Cinnamon is an excellent antispasmodic so it can provide some pain relief if you drink Cinnamon tea 3-4 days leading up to your period.
*Please note ~ due to its potent heating quality, those with a high pitta constitution and/or excess heat should exercise moderation when using this stimulating spice.
Cinnamon Tea Recipe
Here is a simple recipe for cinnamon tea that can be enjoyed before or after meals, or as a nighttime treat.
2 cups water
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp raw honey
Bring water to a boil, then add the cinnamon.
Let it cool for about 10 minutes, then add honey and stir until dissolved.
Enjoy before or after meals.