With the cool winds of autumn beginning to blow through many regions, you may find your body feeling cold and congested, longing for warmth and comfort. Battling the cold may seem like a necessary evil as fall deepens into winter. Yet, a simple remedy for cold hands and feet may be as close as your everyday spice rack. Long relied upon for its stimulating effect on the circulation, cinnamon warms your blood and your body into coziness with its sweet taste and powerful punch. The warmth it brings to cold hands and feet has also been used for conditions like Raynauld's Syndrome.
Expectorant for Your Lungs
Cinnamon not only helps your hands and feet, it stimulates circulation especially in the lungs and joints. It's pungent spiciness warms up the lungs and liquefies mucus congestion. You may have noticed that when you make tea with cinnamon, a thick, gooey substance settles to the bottom of your cup. This gooey property is called demulcent among herbalists and helps you expecorate any thick, kapha like mucus adhered to the bronchial tubes. Cinnamon's demulcency also coats the throat, soothing it. For best results, gargle with cinnamon, or squeeze a wedge of lemon into an herbal tea with 1/4tsp cinnamon.
Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Cinnamon is a popular garnish atop many desserts. While many of us choose cinnamon in desserts for its unique taste, this choice also reflects the body's innate wisdom. Cinnamon regulates blood sugar and its stimulating pungency makes it perfect for heavy, sweet foods. Cinnamon also regulates metabolism of fats and sugars, helping with type II diabetes and insulin resistance.
Freshen Your Breath
Cinnamon's taste freshens the breath and is used in many commercial products. Natural anti-microbial properties in cinnamon cleanse the mouth, addressing the root cause of bad breath. Its stimulating fresh taste can also be used to quell nausea and stop vomiting. As an analgesic cinnamon is useful for toothache. Just take a pinch of the powder and apply directly onto the tooth.
The warming, stimulating and sweet qualities of cinnamon make it a powerful aphrodisiac. Just sprinkle cinnamon on your favorite dark chocolate to kindle amorous feelings. Cinnamon also stimulates oxytocin, the tend and befriend hormone. Oxytocin increases breast milk production and stimulates uterine contractions, useful during labor. The warming and stimulating qualities of cinnamon flush uterine congestion, relieving painful menstrual cramps and restoring normal, natural flow of the menses. Paradoxically, cinnamon's heat stimulates blood flow, while its dryness & astringency acts as a hemostatic (stops blood flow). That makes cinnamon useful for both light and heavy periods. Oxytocic herbs can stimulate miscarriages and should not be used during pregnancy.
Like most pungent spices, cinnamon rekindles digestion. It is a favorite additive to counteract the mucus provoking qualities of dairy. Cinnamon's anti-microbial qualities also reduce gas and fermentation in the GI. Cinnamon's mild astringency is also useful in infant diarrhea and diarrhea from cold digestion. To increase astringency combine cinnamon with chalk or activated charcoal.
A Personal Experience of Cinnamon from Joseph's Journal January 16, 2010
The best way to experience an herb is on an empty stomach, early in the morning. Then sit on a comfortable pillow with eyes closed and examine its effects on the body. Each person will have a unique and different experience to share when sampling an herb. Here is an entry from John Immel's Journal after drinking a strong tea of cinnamon:
I experienced a rough palate and tension in the throat (evidence of astringency), pain in the back of head (high Vata due to astringency), throbbing of blood vessels in the temporal lobe (evidence of circulatory stimulant), opening of air passages, pressure in the lungs, increased heart rate, decreased sensitivity of the skin (analgesic effect), cooling of the eyes (alterative effect), expectoration which cleared my sinuses, and within a half hour, hunger. Initially I experienced the stimulating and upward moving qualities of cinnamon. Then as the heat warmed my Vata I became tired and fell asleep for several hours. Visually, cinnamon reminds me of the dry, cracked red mud of the desert
Other Properties of Cinnamon
Cinnamon warms and stimulates the heart, liver, kidney and spleen. It disperses deep cold, alleviates pain from stagnation of blood and prana, and encourages generation of prana and blood. Cinnamon is used to treat upper heat and lower cold. It appears in topical formulas for premature ejaculation perhaps due to its analgesic and warming qualities. Don't try this at home - cinnamon burns!
Cinnamon is a small evergreen tree in the Lauraceae family native to Sri Lanka. Other members of this family include sassafras, avocado, camphor, and spicebush. Trees of the laurel family, including cinnamon, predominate in the world's laurel forests. Many members of the family are used medicinally all over the world. Cinnamon grows best in almost pure sand, sheltered, with constant rain. It prefers heat with little temperature variation. When bruised the leaves smell spicy and have a hot taste.
The term laurel itself means an emblem of distinction of victory as in "To rest on one's laurels." Cinnamon is thus a plant of distinction and royalty. In the ancient world cinnamon was more precious than gold, a gift for monarchs and gods. The emperor Nero burned a year's supply of Rome's cinnamon to grieve the loss of his wife (whom he murdered).
Even the Bible is rich with references to cinnamon, further attesting to its importance in ancient times. Moses used sweet cinnamon and cassia to make oils for anointing. In proverbs a lover's bed is perfumed with myrrh, aloe, and cinnamon. In the Song of Solomon, the beauty of the beloved is described, "Cinnamon scents her garments like the smell of Lebanon." In ancient Egypt, cinnamon was included among several spices to embalm and preserve mummies.
BUYING & PREPARATION
Commercial cinnamon is the dried inner bark from the shoots of coppiced trees. The bark is shaved into famous "quills" or tubes of shaved cinnamon bark. Making the quills is an art form to this day in Sri Lanka.
Intrigue, Myths, and Trade of True Cinnamon
There are a number of fantastic myths created by Middle Eastern traders to conceal the origins of the spice and protect their monopoly of cinnamon trade. One such story included fishing cinnamon with nets at the source of the Nile, while in another, giant cinnamon birds collected cinnamon sticks from unknown lands to build their nests. In reality, the botanical name (Cinnamomum verum, synonym C. zeylanicum) reveals cinnamon's intriguing origins and history. The genus cinnamomum derives from the Hebrew and Arabic term amomon, meaning fragrant spice plant.
The species name, verum, reveals more modern intrigue in the cinnamon trade. Verum means true as in true cinnamon. True cinnamon is often substituted with inferior relatives such as Cinnamomom cassia. True cinnamon is delicate while cassia is rough and hard. True cinnamon forms a powder easily with a mortar and pestle whereas cassia is difficult to powder. Although used for similar purposes medicinally, cassia has a harsher flavor, more potent and sharp. True cinnamon is also called sweet cinnamon because it is sweet and gentle. A synonym for the species name verum is zeylanica, derived from Sri Lanka's former name, Ceylon, where the plant is native. Cinnamon sticks are difficult to grind but retain their freshness longer than powder. Buy a powder when using as a garnish, or use cinnamon sticks when adding to a soup.
Cinnamon's combination of sweetness and spiciness gives it great versatility in cooking. Along with nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and cloves, cinnamon is one the five classic sweet spices. It enhances many desserts like apple pie, cinnamon buns, and candies. It may be combined and ground into a cinnamon sugar mix, with crushed almonds as an option. Cinnamon is featured in autumn treats like pumpkin pie and apple cider. Try cinnamon on peaches for a tasty and healthy dessert option! True cinnamon, rather than cassia, is better in sweet dishes.
In the Middle East, cinnamon flavors decadant meat dishes. In desserts it is often mixed with rosewater. In ancient Egypt cinnamon was used as a flavoring for beverages. Cinnamon is paired with chocolate in Mexico and used as a garnish on rice pudding in India. In savory dishes cinnamon is delicious with squash, on sweet potatoes with dates and almonds. It is foundational in savory Indian and African curries. The famous spice mixes Garam Masala and Panch Puran include cinnamon. Cinnamon can also be used for pickling. In Morocco cinnamon is combined with preserved lemons. It also combines well with many other spices including saffron, black pepper, and paprika.
Cinnamon's versatility lends itself to experimentation. It is also appealing to children, who often enjoy its sweet taste. So when the chill has you feeling in need of some gentle care, you may want to reach for this sweet spice and see what it can bring to your plate and to your body!
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WHY EAT AN AYURVEDIC DIET?
Eating Ayurvedically makes you feel nourished and energized. An Ayurvedic diet is
tailored to your individual body type and the specific imbalances you are working with
at any given time. Ayurveda shows you your specific body type’s needs and what
should be favored in your Ayurvedic menu. Watch as you eat less but feel more satisfied because what you
are eating truly nourishes you. Since Ayurveda believes all disease begins in the digestive
tract, food is your first medicine. By eating a healthy diet that’s ideal for your body, you
experience optimal health.
Functional Ayurveda helps you assess imbalances through 20 main biocharacteristics
Aggravating these characteristics weakens your body and causes imbalance.
By knowing which characteristics are habitually imbalanced in your body, you will be able to identify and correct imbalances before you get sick.
Every characteristic has an opposite which balances it (i.e. hot balances cold).
You restore balance by favoring diet and lifestyle choices that increase the opposite characteristic.
Taste is used to sense the most basic properties and effects of food.
Each taste has a specific medicinal effect on your body.
Cravings for food with certain tastes indicate your body is craving specific medicinal results from food.
Taste is experienced on the tongue and represents your body's reaction to foods.
Sweet taste causes physical satisfaction and attraction whereas bitter taste causes discomfort and aversion.
Kapha should use less sweet taste while Vata and Pitta would benefit from using more sweet taste.
One of the first signs of illness is that your taste and appetite for food changes.
The six tastes are sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent.
Do you crave foods with any of the tastes below?
According to the biocharacteristic theory of medicine,
people tend to get sick, over and over again, due to habitual causes and imbalances that are unique to the person.
Your body type summarizes this tendency, showing you the 'type' of conditions and imbalances that frequently challenge your health & wellness.
Using body type, you can also identify remedies likely to improve your strength and resiliency.
Your body type identifies physical and mental characteristics as well as your personal strengths and weaknesses.
The calculation of your body type is based on your medical history.
The 3 functional body types
are Catabolic (Vata), Metabolic (Pitta), and Anabolic (Kapha).
Catabolic individuals tend to break down body mass into energy.
Metabolic individuals tend to burn or use energy.
Anabolic individuals tend to store energy as body mass.
Catabolic people tend to be easily stimulated, hyperactive, underweight and dry.
Metabolic people tend to be rosy-cheeked, easily irritated, focused, driven, and easily inflamed.
Anabolic people are heavy, stable and grounded, but if they store too much energy, they could gain weight easily and have congestion.
Prana is the Sanskrit word for vital life energy (Qi in Chinese Medicine, pneuma in Greek). Many herbs stimulate your energy, or improve the flow of prana through your body. Generally, prana needs to be increased in spring after a sleepy winter.
Sattvic foods promote awareness and a refreshed mind by nourishing the body without taxing digestion. Sattvic foods do not stimulate desire or nervous energy. They create clarity instead of drowsiness or heaviness.
Experiences vary according to the person and constitution. Individual results may vary.
The list of herbal-actions below has not be approved by the FDA and should not be used to treat a medical condition.
An agent that kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth. Antimicrobial is an umbrella term that can be broken down into specific categories of target microorganism, such as anti-bacterials, fungals, and virals.
Eating Ayurvedically makes you feel nourished and energized. Food digests with ease when
right for your body type (dosha). Healthy digestion is seen as the cornerstone of well-being in
Ayurveda. Healthy digestion generally prevents illness. If you do get sick, a strong digestive fire
reduces the severity of illness and increases your resilience. It also improves your mood. Once
you begin eating Ayurvedically, you will feel refreshed, vital and strong.
Cinnamon may be beneficial for these symptoms. The suitability of any food for a condition is highly dependent on the individual.
Please see your doctor before using this food to treat a medical condition.
John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a
healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda.
His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful.
John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda
, which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition.
John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia.
John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion.
John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing.
In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots,
and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church.
Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick.
That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.