Cinnamomum zeylanicum and C. verum
The cinnamon tree is an Asian evergreen member of the laurel family. It has brown, papery bark and leathery leaves. Yellow flowers appear in the summer followed by purple berries. The best cinnamon is grown in Sri Lanka.
Cinnamon is a tropical tree that is not suited to propagation in most parts of North America and nor does it enjoy being grown in a pot. Best to buy it.
History and Folklore
Cinnamon is a much beloved spice with a long and rich history. It was mentioned in Chinese books on healing more than four thousand years ago. It was also used in Egypt and Europe. In Egypt it was part of a mix of herbs and spices that was used to fill body cavities during mummification. In Europe it was such a hit that it was one of the sparks of the age of exploration.
Harvesting & Storage
Cinnamon sticks, popularly used for flavoring cider or ground and mixed with sugar for a variety of uses, are formed from the bark. The leaves and buds also contain volatile oils and fragrance and oil can be extracted from any of these. The oil obtained from the leaf is not as strong and also not as likely to cause skin irritation.
Add cinnamon to potpourri. Ground cinnamon sprinkled in cabinets will discourage bugs from entering.
Cinnamon sticks may be used to decorate crafts and gift wrap for Yule.
Cinnamon in Magick
Cinnamon is commonly used in incense. It smells really good and fills the room with a warm, comfy feeling, especially nice on cold winter days. It can be burned to sanctify an area or object, to increase the spiritual "mood", to aid in healing spells or in healing in general (this is appropriate for burning right in the sick room) and also to enhance the male libido. The oil may be used to anoint objects during blessing and protection rituals. (Be sure to dilute this heavily with a carrier if it's going to touch your skin!)
Cinnamon and cinnamon oil can be used in love spells and to make charms to draw love, happiness, and money. Those cinnamon scented brooms you can buy at gift shops can be charged to bring these things to your household and hung up somewhere near the door.
If you are in need of some quick cash, make a bowl out of cinnamon clay, write the amount of money you need on a piece of paper and place it in the bowl with a few coins as offerings of good faith. when you get the money, bury the paper and the coins in the yard and your bowl is ready for your next money request.
Cinnamon is great for upset stomachs, including car sickness and morning sickness, and digestive problems, including gas, vomiting and diarrhea. However, women who are pregnant should not ingest large amounts of cinnamon as it can endanger the pregnancy. I find cinnamon gum or to be very effective for morning sickness without the dangers of actually ingesting cinnamon tea. People with ulcers should also avoid ingesting cinnamon as it can irritate them. Again, chewing cinnamon gum occasionally is a reasonable alternative and effective against mild stomach upsets like that associated with motion sickness. Don't overdo it though, as over-chewing of cinnamon gum can deaden the nerves of the mouth and cause inflammation.
It is called for in teas and other healing beverages when a warming affect is desired. It is also useful in combination as it stimulates the action of other herbs. A cup of cinnamon tea after dinner is said to stimulate digestion and help regulate blood sugar.
Cinnamon should not be applied topically as it is considered a dermal toxin and it is extremely irritating to mucus membranes in particular. Cinnamon oil, however, (not essential oil) can be applied to a toothache to deaden the pain, much like clove oil, but it is not as effective as clove oil.
Cinnamon is a common spice in the kitchen often used in combination with sugar. It is especially tasty with apples, and orange squashes, such as pumpkin and acorn squash. It is an important mulling spice, great in cider and wine.
For an exotic flavor, try coating your chicken with cinnamon (no sugar) and browning it before adding stewed tomatoes and chopped peppers, heat and serve over rice. It's an important spice for savory dishes in India, Morocco and Greece. Also try adding cinnamon to your hot cocoa for a Mexican flair.
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