Cinnamon (Cinnamomum)

Best known as the source for the popular spice cinnamon, Cinnamomum is related to the Laurel family, a genus of evergreen shrubs and trees with bright green leaves and an aromatic scent. Among the members of the genus are the plants known as cassia, cinnamon, camphor laurel and red-barked sassafras. Cinnamomum shrubs and trees grow throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, North, Central and South America and Australia.

Cinnamon that has been ground is the most commonly available form of Cinnamomum. One tablespoon contains seven percent of the calcium, three percent of the iron and two percent of the Vitamin C of the daily recommended amounts to maintain good health. It contains no saturated fat, no cholesterol and minimal sodium, making it a wise choice for health-conscious individuals. Cinnamon is also high in manganese and fiber and contains traces of Omega 6 fatty acids required for growth and proper physical function.
Cinnamomum bark has been used to treat digestive disorders as well as diabetes. While the benefits of cinnamon in reducing blood sugar have not been authoritatively established, many studies show significant improvements in diabetes control when taking cinnamon.
Cinnamon possesses significant antioxidant properties and is sometimes used to help purify the system in order to eliminate ailments. Its analgesic properties have led to its use against toothache as well. The aromatic oils of the Cinnamomum genus are used to produce camphor oil, a component of medical vapor products such as Vicks VapoRub. Camphor oil is toxic and should not be ingested, but may be applied to the skin’s surface to produce a cooling effect or to relieve itching, as well as inducing significant improvement in breathing for individuals with colds or flu-like symptoms.

Cinnamon is also used in alternative medicine in aromatherapy applications and as an antibacterial treatment for infection.