The earliest herbal stories of Christmas are rooted in the desert of the Holy Land, and begin with the wisemen bearing gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense to the newborn child. Many miraculous herbs continue to be in our Christmas traditions, and all have been passed down through generations to form our unique celebrations. Who gives thought to how and why these herbal traditions started, or importantly the medicinal benefits of these holiday herbs?
The aroma of cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) in festive kitchens! Mmmmm - warm, spicy and intensely fragrant. Celebrating the Festive Season holidays without cinnamon and other essential spices from the ‘symphony of herbs’ would be sadly lacking.
Cinnamon for health: More than just a festive spice.
Cinnamon originates from Sri Lanka and Southern India, and in recent centuries has found its way across much of the globe. It has a long history of a variety of medical actions, and has even enjoyed recent attention under the scrutiny of Western research scientists.
As a spice, cinnamon can play a popular role at breakfast, in desserts, and international cuisines and we tend to forget that it has medicinal properties. While it might not surprise us to learn of its value as a herb, how many of us know what this tasty treat of pungency actually does for our health balance?
In the ancient Indian medicine system of Ayurveda, cinnamon is associated with its ability to enhance digestive power. When someone suffers from a sluggish digestive system due to their constitution, or even the ingestion of heavy foods, (your Christmas dinner!) cinnamon can help to overcome these challenges. It is also used for its antiseptic, antibacterial, and analgesic properties.
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers cinnamon to have a warming effect on the body remaining consistent with the digestive properties assigned to it by Ayurveda.
Even Western medical institutions are exploring the medicinal benefits of cinnamon for health, including how it appears to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and other positive effects. It is also being studied in relation to its use for treatment of people with type 2 diabetes.
Regardless of the time of year, cinnamon can play an important role in detoxifying your body, and fortifying your body’s tissues.
Cinnamon makes a pleasant tasting tea alone, or added to various herbal tisanes, even a latte, for its medicinal properties, such as digestive. The addition of raw honey brings out the organic sweetness of the cinnamon and enhances the antibiotic healing for colds, sore throats, and other viral infections. It has an energising and uplifting effect on mood. Cinnamon oil used in essential oil blends brings holiday cheer to your home and workspace.
Grinding organically sourced cinnamon sticks into powder yourself is a good way to ensure the freshest cinnamon for your home use. Store in air tight glass jars to seal in the goodness and protect from light. Remember that the cinnamon powder sold in supermarkets lacks medicinal value and has more than likely been irradiated.
Your Cinnamon Decoction Recipe
Cinnamon, along with other common spices, can be mixed together to act as support for relieving congestion and coughs. This will help to clear coughs, sinus congestion, and other excessive mucus in your body. Sprayfree and organically sources spices are optimal.
1 tbsp finely slithered fresh, ginger root (skin removed)
1 Ceylon cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon bruised cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon bruised cloves
Add herbs to 2-3 cups of water in a small lidded pot. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly with lid on. Stir in raw honey to taste and add slices of spray free lemon.
Enjoy this drink warm or cold!
Sara Mertens RMH MNZAMH Dip. Clinical Herb. Med., Cert. Human Nutrition
Medical Herbalist W: symphonyofherbs.nz L: 03 313 1520 M: 027 512 2221