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Cinnamon Ground - (Cassia)
Cassia is the most commonly available type of Cinnamon. Most commercial ground Cinnamon is actually Cassia or a combination of Cinnamon and Cassia. This practice is permitted with no restriction by most countries. Except for the Medical Uses the information below refers to both Cinnamon and Cassia. The choice between cassia or Cinnamon depends on intended use and taste preference of the individual. Cassia Cinnamon is more popular in the United States where its flavor is associated with hot spicy Cinnamon candy while Ceylon Cinnamon gains popularity in Latin American countries where it is a key ingredient in Mexican style hot-chocolates. Cassia is also an ingredient in Chinese five-spice.Native to Burma Cassia is botanically-known as Cinnamomum Aromaticum or Cinnamomum Cassia. It is a member of the same family as true Cinnamon but it has a stronger flavor thus requiring less in volume in recipes. Cassia is usually a better choice for savory dishes rather than for sweets.Cinnamon has been known from remote antiquity; the first mention of a particular spice in the Old Testament is of Cinnamon where Moses is commanded to use both sweet Cinnamon and Cassia in the holy anointing oil; in Proverbs where the lover's bed is perfumed with Myrrh Aloe and Cinnamon; and in Song of Solomon a song describing the beauty of his beloved Cinnamon scents her garments like the smell of Lebanon.
Dried Cassia buds resembling cloves are used in the East for pickles curries candies and spicy meat dishes. Tiny yellow Cassia flowers have a mild Cinnamon flavor and are sold preserved in a sweetened brine and used to perfume sweets fruits teas and wines. Cassia leaves may also be used as a flavoring in the same manner as bay leaves.Cassia is widely used as a spice. It is principally employed in cookery as a condiment and flavoring material. True Cinnamon rather than Cassia is more suitable for use in sweet dishes.It is used in the preparation of chocolate especially in Mexico which is the main importer of true Cinnamon. It is also used in the preparation of some kinds of desserts such as apple pie donuts and Cinnamon buns as well as spicy candies tea hot cocoa and liqueurs.
In the Middle East Cinnamon is often used in savory dishes of chicken and lamb. In the United States Cinnamon and sugar are often used to flavor cereals bread-based dishes and fruits especially apples; a Cinnamon-sugar mixture is even sold separately for such purposes. Cinnamon can also be used in pickling. Cinnamon powder has long been an important spice in Persian cuisine used in a variety of thick soups drinks and sweets. It is often mixed with rosewater or other spices to make a Cinnamon-based curry powder for stews or just sprinkled on sweet treats.
Medicinal Use: (Cassia)
Cassia is used in traditional Chinese medicine where it is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs.The Cassia pulp is a popular laxative and is used in the treatment of constipation. It can be safely taken even by children and expectant mothers. The pulp of Cassia is a mild pleasant and safe purgative. Approximately four grams of the pulp is taken with an equal quantity of sugar or tamarind.
The root of the Cassia tree is a tonic and useful in reducing fever. An alcoholic extract of the root bark is used for black water fever. The root of Cassia is useful in common cold. In case of running nose smoke from the burning root can be inhaled. It encourages a copious nasal discharge and provides relief.
The leaves of the Cassia tree are helpful in relieving irritation of the skin and in alleviating swellings and pains. Their juice or paste serves as a useful dressing for ringworm and inflammation of the hands or feet caused by exposure to cold. They also relieve dropsically swellings due to excessive accumulation of fluid in the body tissue. Its leaves can be rubbed beneficially on affected parts for relief from rheumatism and facial paralysis.
Cassia also has a significant amount of the blood-thinning phytochemical coumarin which has led Germany to ban its importation.Potential Health Benefits of Cassia and true Cinnamon vary. If buying for medical use please be sure you are buying the right product.
Cassia cinnamon is generally safe when used in amounts commonly found in foods and in medicinal doses.
Cassia has a significant amount of the blood-thinning phytochemical coumarin. In people who are sensitive coumarin might cause or worsen liver disease. Large amounts of cassia cinnamon should not be taken for a long period of time. People with liver disease should also avoid taking cassia cinnamon products. When applied to the skin cassia cinnamon can sometimes cause skin irritation and allergic skin reactions.
Cinnamon Ground - (Ceylon)
Though its source was kept mysterious in the Mediterranean world for centuries by the middlemen who handled the spice trade to protect their monopoly as suppliers cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka. It was imported to Egypt as early as 2000 BC.There are several species of Cinnamon found in South and South-East Asia. In addition to the cultivated cinnamon type (Cinnamomum zeylanicum or C. verum) there are reported to be seven other species of wild cinnamon which are endemic to Sri Lanka
Cinnamon has been known from remote antiquity; the first mention of a particular spice in the Old Testament is of cinnamon where Moses is commanded to use both sweet cinnamon and cassia in the holy anointing oil; in Proverbs where the lover's bed is perfumed with myrrh aloe and cinnamon; and in Song of Solomon a song describing the beauty of his beloved cinnamon scents her garments like the smell of Lebanon.
Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice. It is principally employed in cookery as a condiment and flavoring material. It is used in the preparation of chocolate especially in Mexico which is the main importer of true cinnamon. It is also used in the preparation of some kinds of desserts such as apple pie donuts and cinnamon buns as well as spicy candies tea hot cocoa and liqueurs. True cinnamon rather than cassia is more suitable for use in sweet dishes.
In the Middle East it is often used in savory dishes of chicken and lamb. In the United States cinnamon and sugar are often used to flavor cereals bread-based dishes and fruits especially apples; a cinnamon-sugar mixture is even sold separately for such purposes. Cinnamon can also be used in pickling. Cinnamon bark is one of the few spices that can be consumed directly. Cinnamon powder has long been an important spice in Persian cuisine used in a variety of thick soups drinks and sweets. It is often mixed with rosewater or other spices to make a cinnamon-based curry powder for stews or just sprinkled on sweet treats. Its flavor is due to an aromatic essential oil that makes up 0.5% to 1% of its composition. This oil is prepared by roughly pounding the bark macerating it in seawater and then quickly distilling the whole. It is of a golden-yellow color with the characteristic odor of cinnamon and a very hot aromatic taste. The pungent taste and scent come from cinnamic aldehyde or cinnamaldehyde (about 60 % of the bark oil) and by the absorption of oxygen as it ages it darkens in color and develops resinous compounds.
In medicine it acts like other volatile oils and once had a reputation as a cure for colds. It has also been used to treat diarrhea and other problems of the digestive system. Cinnamon is high in antioxidant activity. The essential oil of cinnamon also has antimicrobial properties which can aid in the preservation of certain foods.Cinnamon has been reported to have remarkable pharmacological effects in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance. However the plant material used in the study was mostly from cassia and only few of them are truly from Cinnamomum zeylanicum (see cassia's medicinal uses for more information about its health benefits). Recent advancement in phytochemistry has shown that it is a cinnamtannin B1 isolated from C. zeylanicum which is of therapeutic effect on Type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon has traditionally been used to treat toothache and fight bad breath and its regular use is believed to stave off common cold and aid digestion.
Cinnamon has been proposed for use as an insect repellent although it remains untested. Cinnamon leaf oil has been found to be very effective in killing mosquito larvae. The compounds cinnamaldehyde cinnamyl acetate eugenol and anethole that are contained in cinnamon leaf oil were found to have the highest effectiveness against mosquito larvae.
It is reported that regularly drinking of Cinnamomum zeylanicum tea made from the bark could be beneficial to oxidative stress related illness in humans as the plant part contains significant antioxidant potential.
Potential Health Benefits of Cassia and true Cinnamon vary. If buying for medical use please be sure you are buying the right product.