Updated: Jul 17
Cinnamon is one of my favorite ingredients, it is both spicy and sharp, yet warm and cozy. Cinnamon has renowned healing powers not only in ancient Indian Ayurvedic treatments but also in ancient Chinese healing methods. It has been used by humans for thousands of years as both a medicine and food additive and a desire for it was the backbone of ancient trade routes and exploration of new lands.
Cinnamomum is an evergreen tree which grows primarily in South East Asia. It has thick bark and berry fruit. During harvesting, the outer bark is cut off a branch and the inner fragrant bark peeled off and dried.
Below is a 2-minute video by Mode Foodie that shows the harvesting process. It will give you a renewed respect for how much human effort it takes to bring you a cinnamon stick.
There are two varieties of cinnamon, "true cinnamon" and "cassia." Cassia is the Chinese cinnamon and is grown in China, Vietnam, and Burma, it is the cheapest and most commonly used in commercial spice products. Most of so-called "true" cinnamon, or Ceylon cinnamon, comes from Sri Lanka.
For more about true Sri Lankan cinnamon, check out local spice shop Curio Spice's excellent Aromatum blog about visiting Sri Lanka and learning to peel cinnamon!
Cinnamon in Skincare
Cinnamon (whether ground or as an essential oil) acts as a stimulant, it increases blood circulation and gives energy but it also has anti-inflammatory properties. To round out these superpowers it also has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties (common with spices grown in hot climates). Beware, however, that some people are allergic to cinnamon, so always spot check first and discontinue if excessive redness or irritation occurs.
Most skincare products use cinnamon for it's anti-inflammatory or anti-bacterial properties, such this recipe for pimple relief:
1 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Honey
Mix and leave on the pimple for 10 minutes and then wash off. Repeat for a couple of days, twice a day for stubborn pimples! This should make enough to last a week, cover the mixture but do not refrigerate or it will become too hard to scoop!
I use cinnamon most often in my exfoliating scrubs, to improve complexion, plump skin, and help soften and soothe dry skin. Naturally, when combined with sugar and essential oils such as orange it begins to smell like cookies, which I think helps the relaxation process even more!
Scents of Cinnamon
Cinnamon essential oil stimulates, energizes and warms and is a great addition to diffusers, body oils, or in potpourri. Although, take care when there are pets in the house. Most animals have a more acute sense of smell than humans and using too many essential oils in the air of the home can be harmful to pets. Having said that, placing sliced pomegranates or apple, cinnamon (sticks or ground) and water into a pot and simmering for a few minutes on the stove can really warm up a room with inviting scents of fall.
It is certainly most beloved in the fall and winter here in the northeast, so whether you are sprinkling it on oatmeal, topping hot chocolate, balancing your digestion, sloughing off dead skin, or punishing pimples, cinnamon will be there to kiss you back to health.