(Cinnamon cassia or C. zeylanicum)
The familiar spice that we see in the store is actually cassia. True cinnamon is a lighter tan color than the dark reddish brown we are familiar with. The true cinnamon is relatively rare and should not be over-harvested. The “sticks” of cinnamon are strips of inner bark peeled away from the wood of young trees, a procedure that can drive the tree to extinction if not harvested responsibly, and in some areas some varieties are threatened or endangered already. It usually matters little, the effects of the two spices are nearly the same. They are in the same family, they have the same effects and flavor with only subtle distinctions. There is one main difference: true cinnamon or Ceylon has low to undetectable levels of a toxin that cassia (grocery store) cinnamon has in higher amounts. Over using grocery store cinnamon may therefore potentially damage your liver, especially if your liver is not strong to begin with. BUT true cinnamon comes with a higher price, and some varieties are endangered or threatened. Make sure to buy from an ethical source, and be prepared to pay more for your cinnamon. However, culinary and herbalism are different doses. For this herb, I would recommend not using more than a food dose, and boost the effect by having other herbs that can help support your need. This is why I prefer pumpkin spice over pure cinnamon to treat chilled winter joints. In other words, if you use 1/4 a teaspoon of cinnamon in your coffee every day, have 1/4 a teaspoon pumpkin spice mix instead, this will lower your intake of the toxin.
In several European countries, the legal limit of cassia cinnamon has been lowered to such a small amount that the flavor of cinnamon pastries and foods has been impacted. So we’ve already been consuming more than we should, make sure cinnamon isn’t the dominant spice in your blend or get your hands on the most ethically sourced Ceylon you can. You may still want to thin it out with a spice mix to help limit the cost. In many recipes, a pumpkin spice blend will help to dilute the cinnamon while still giving a gentle spice and warming properties.
Back in the days of traveling spice traders, the quest for this evergreen tree is part of what landed Christopher Columbus in America on his wrong turn to the spice islands. That kind of makes this tree responsible for America.
Cautions: Avoid in quantities larger than tend to be used in food levels, avoid when pregnant or lactating. Cinnamon affects blood sugar levels, talk to your doctor if you are diabetic. On the plus side of that, there is research done that supports using it to keep blood sugar down, so that talk with your doctor may go very well. Avoid if you have liver issues.
Antibacterial, digestive, stimulant
Cinnamon is one of the warming herbs that can be thrown into teas, foods, or medications to soothe conditions that are worsened by the cold. Cinnamon can increase circulation and bring feelings of warmth to arthritic conditions, or for simple cold chills and general keeping warm in the winter. I put it in my coffee, tea, and cider in the winter. Cinnamon is also antiseptic and can help fight general infection from virus or bacteria, and can also benefit preparations by boosting the health benefits of proper digestion. It has also been said that it can ease painful menstruation.
Now, if you have diabetes you may have heard about cinnamon helping to regulate blood sugar. It has been shown to be of help when used in connection with more mainstream prescriptions and treatments. Take a look at the current information and speak to your doctor about the possibility.
Preparation and Dosage: If using medicinally, you probably should get the more expensive and rare plant. If you have diabetes, that would justify it, those studies look pretty hopeful. For a warming spice, try avoiding large quantities by adding cinnamon to a pumpkin spice with other warming herbs such as ginger, allspice, clove, and nutmeg. There’s a reason we have so many pumpkin spice recipes in the winter, these foods warm us up and make winter more bearable. They also improve digestion during feast times, help lend us energy to get through stressful family get togethers (fun but crazy and so exhausting!), and ease chronic pain flare-ups brought on by the cold. Using this blend will mean consuming less cinnamon while still enjoying digestive and circulation related benefits.
Healing, love, lust, power, psychic ability, prosperity, spirituality, success, vitality
Cinnamon can raise the spiritual vibrations of incense and other preparations, aid healing preparations, produce protective energies, ensure prosperity, and stimulate psychic abilities and spiritual communications. Cinnamon is sometimes used in offerings, and in historical context that makes perfect sense. Spices used to be so insanely ridiculously priced that only royalty and the very wealthy could get their hands on them. Imagine cinnamon being so expensive that it was the cost of a week to a couple of month’s labor for most people. Now imagine Emperor Nero burning an entire year’s supply on the funeral pyre of his wife. Picture that level of sacrifice, and know that’s where its history comes from. Offerings provide the blessings of the gods, a petition in prayer, and you give up something of value to show your dedication. Think of the time spent tending to and harvesting this herb by the farmers who raised it. The lives of the people involved. The transport of the herb to you, the sheer magnitude of machines and human labor involved in transporting, processing, bartering, packaging, advertising, and stocking for that herb to finally reach your hands. Know it is valuable, and it is history. Offerings can be incense, and you can also bake with cinnamon and dedicate your joy in smelling and consuming your offering to the gods, that you eat in honor of them and your joy is their joy.
A bit on love magic, because this herb is thick in that too. Don’t focus on one person. Even if it works out, you’d have that annoying thought in the back of your head, what if they only love you because of that stupid thing you did with the candle? You’ve damaged the relationship even before it began. Don’t try to manipulate anyone’s free will because you will have a consequence, whether it be a spiritual backlash or a psychological one, you will pay for it. And thinking you got away with it can leave you open to a much more severe, and lonely, consequence further down the line when you really need someone in your life.
But definitely do love magic. Draw the perfect person into your life by calling out for what you need, and leave who it might be open to fate so the right person comes to you, and you are the right person for them as well. Eat love foods baked with cinnamon and feel them making you beautiful. Burn incense and know it makes your home a loving, happy environment. Bathe in rosewater with cinnamon and feel your love for yourself growing within you, washing away your hurts, and making you more beautiful. When looking for love, sprinkle apples and apple-filled foods with cinnamon and eat while picturing love coming to you. Try red wine and cinnamon as an ink to write a love letter to the universe thanking it for life, and burn it in prayer. Or, design a perfect spouse and write the love letter to them, and know that you are opening yourself up to how to receive this love properly. These actions interfere with nobody’s free will, they help heal the hurt within yourself and lower your defenses, they boost your confidence, and they let the world around you know that you are ready to receive.
20,000 Secrets of Tea by Victoria Zak.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen by Scott Cunningham.
The Magic Teaspoon: Transform Your Meals with the Power of Healing Herbs and Spices by Victoria Zak.