Cinnamon (Rou Gui)
Botanical Name: Cinnamomum verum, C. zeylancium, C. cassia
Cinnamon has a history as a spice, a preserver of food, a medicine, an incense and a gift considered worthy of the gods. In China, it is used successfully to treat many ailments due to Cold or Wind Cold invasion or Stagnation. If you are suffering from Hot above and Cold below conditions, Cinnamon is the best herb for you.
Below is an overview of Cinnamon, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Cinnamon.
Western Name: Cinnamon
Also Known As: True Cinnamon, Cassia Bark, Sweet Cinnamon
Organs/Systems: Stomach, Lungs, Intestine
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Excellent Antifungal and Antibacterial, Aromatherapy, Analgesic, Aromatic, Astringent, Hypotensive, Insect Repellent, Carminative.
Pin Yin: Rou Gui
Also Known As: Kuei Pi
Meridians: Heart, Kidney, Liver, Spleen
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Warms the Kidneys/Fortifies Yang: Aversion to cold, weak back, frequent urination. Fortifies Spleen Yang: poor appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea. Wheezing due to Kidney Yang not grasping Lung Qi. Principal herb for treating floating deficient Yang: red face, wheezing, sever sweating (like oil), weak and cold lower extremities. This pattern is called Heat above and Cold below or True Cold with Illusory Heat. Used when upper body is Hot and lower part Cold. Disperses Deep Cold/Warms the Meridians/Alleviates Pain: Deep Cold causing pain and Qi or Blood (Xue) stagnation, including amenorhea, dysmenorrhea, Yin type boils. Helps nourish Qi and Blood (Xue): used in Qi and Blood (Xue) tonics as an auxiliary herb to treat chronic deficiency of Qi and Blood (Xue).
Parts Most Frequently Used: Inner Bark, Essential Oil (Leaves and Buds also contain volatile oils)
Flavors/Temps: Acrid, Sweet, Hot
Caution: Considered safe, but be cautious during pregnancy as it is very stimulating. Also not used topically as can sting and cause boils.
History/Folklore: Used in ancient Egypt for embalming and added to food to prevent spoiling. The fragrant bark yields a golden yellow oil often used in sacred oils and incenses. During the bubonic plague sponges were soaked in cinnamon and cloves and placed in sick rooms. Cinnamon was the most sought after spice during the 15th and 16th centuries. Often used in China with ginger (Zingiber officianle).
The Greeks used cinnamon to flavor wine, together with absinth. In the Bible, Moses was commanded to use both sweet cinnamon and cassia in the holy anointing oil. “Two hundred and fifty shekels of sweet cinnamon is the second ingredient in the holy anointing oil.” Exodus 30:23
It was offered on the specialized incense altar in the time when the tabernacle was located in the First and Second Jerusalem temples. Pliny mentions the spice trade for cinnamon that crossed the Red Sea as costing Rome 100 million sesterces a year.
Pliny the Elder also notes that 350 grams of cinnamon was equal to 5 kilograms of silver, or about 15 times the value of silver per weight. It is said that the Emperor Nero burned a year’s worth of the cities supply at the funeral of his wife Poppaea Sabina.
Throughout the Middle Ages, the source of cinnamon was a mystery to the Western World as for centuries the trade routes had been carefully protected by traders to maintain their monoplies on the supplies. Venetian traders held the monopoly on the spice for trading to Europe. It was the disruption of the cinnamon trade that led to Europeans searching more widely for other routes to Asia.
Today Sri Lanka produces 80-90% of the world’s supply of C. serum. Other cinnamon is largely produced in Indonesia, China, India and Vietnam. Cassia is the strong spicy cinnamon associated with cinnamon rolls and baked goods. Cinnamon can also be used in pickling. The finest grade of cinnamon is said to come from the youngest branches of trees at age 4-5 years old.
Cinnamon is good for treating upset stomachs including morning sickness, gas, vomiting and diarrhea. A cup of cinnamon tea before dinner will stimulate digestion and help regulate blood sugar.
Cinnamon is considered to be a symbol of healing, power, spirituality, success, passion, protection, psychic powers and love. In Hebrew the word cinnamon means “to erect or upright rolls,” indicating the sacred rolls of scripture and living the upright life outlined in these sacred scrolls. The adding of cinnamon to the sacred oils brought passion and an uplifting of the spirit towards god and all things sacred.
In magic, cinnamon is associated with fire and the sun. Burned as an incense it can help aid healing spells and healing in general. It is good to burn in a sick room to aid recovery.
Generally speaking, cinnamon does not like to be grown in a pot, it does best in the ground. For fragrance, the oil of the leaves, bark, or buds can be used. Used in potpourris, cinnamon will prevent bugs from entering.
Volatile Oil (including Cinnmic Aldehyde), Eugenol, Tannins, Resin, Mucilage, Trace Coumarin, Complex Sugars.
In classical times, four types of cinnamon were used: Cassia (Arabia and Ethiopia), True Cinnamon (Sri Lanka), Malabathrum (North India) and Serichatum (China).
A Gift for Gods
Cinnamon was so highly prized in ancient times that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even a god. There are records of such gifts recorded in the temple of Apollo at Miletus.
The phoenix was said to build its nest from cinnamon and cassia.
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