Cinnamon

Cinnamon…

A common, sweet, warm spice, cinnamon  is the bark of several species of trees of the genus Cinnamomum.

Origin and History

Wild and native to India and southeast Asia, cinnamon’s long history places it in ancient Egypt; it was a common gift to the Roman Gods; and it is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Cinnamon has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Healing and in Ayurvedic remedies in India. You will find it ground and in whole bark form: I have both on hand, as the uses vary. There are several varieties, Ceylon being the most common.

Physical Benefits

Cinnamon benefits the circulatory, digestive, and respiratory systems. It increases appetite and promotes digestion. It strengthens and harmonizes circulation, supporting the heart. Cinnamon is an antioxidant, destroys toxins, reduces mucous, and is a good expectorant during colds and flu. It has antibacterial properties and can boost the immune system. Cinnamon in massage oil increases warmth, and it can relieve muscle tension, menstrual pain, and arthritis. It has also been used as an excellent skin cleanser.

Mood

Aromatically, the fragrance is warm, sweet, and spicy, and its effect on the mood is uplifting and energetic. Cinnamon is known to be an anti-depressant and a mental stimulant; it can reduce headaches, and increase concentration. It is used in room sprays, incense, and “love potions”, as it’s effect on the mood is aphrodisiac.

 

Mouth

Cinnamon cleanses the teeth, freshens the breath, and has been used to treat infection of the gums. It is found in breath sprays, toothpaste, and gums.

Using cinnamon

Culinarily, cinnamon is used in many dishes, both sweet and savory. (Yes, I think I made up that word.) In Mexico it is often used in chocolate (desserts and moles), in the Middle East it is used in savory meat dishes, and is also used in Indian curries.

I love a nice chai tea, especially this time of year, using the whole bark quills. You can find the recipe here!

Enjoy the many benefits of yet another amazing healing plant!

Exotic cardamom…

A member of the ginger family, cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is an ancient, beautifully fragrant, unique spice that once you discover, you’ll be hooked!

Origin and History

Wild and native to India and Sri Lanka, cardamom has been used since ancient Egyptian times, as well as Ayurvedically in India and in Traditional Chinese Medicine. You will find it ground and in whole pod form: I have both on hand, as the uses vary. (There are green and black pod varieties, the black being a bit stronger and more pungent.)

Digestion

Cardamom stimulates digestion, dispels gas (carminative), relieves acid regurgitation, calms an upset stomach, and removes mucous from the stomach. It can halt vomiting, belching, and hiccups.

Mood

Cardamom’s quality is sattvic, it brings clarity to the mind and joy to the heart, and has been used to treat mild depression.

Mouth

Chewed, it cleanses the teeth, freshens the breath, and has been used to treat infection of the gums. It soothes a sore throat and relieves pharyngitis when gargled.

Respiratpry

Clears congestion in the lungs, eases coughs and bronchitis, and warms the body when chilled.

Using cardamom

Ground cardamom is used in baking, especially in Scandinavian pastries, and in curries in India.  Use ground cardamom in oatmeal along with cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts, and fruits.

I put a great Herbal Chai recipe on the Prana Veda blog page, or if you just have to have that Americano in the morning, sprinkle a little cardamom in: it is said to detoxify the caffeine in coffee.

For a special rice dish (maybe along with a cauliflower curry and dal) throw a few whole pods in the pot with the rice and water (remove before eating), or crush the whole pod, and throw the little brown seeds in.

Aromatically, the fragrance as an essential oil is warm, sweet, and spicy, and its effect on the mood is uplifting and energetic.

Ahh… Chamomile…


A little, yellow-centered, daisy-like flower, Chamomile is well known as a calming, relaxing tea, but wow, does it have many uses!

Origin and History

There are 2 varieties of chamomile, (botanically unrelated): Marticaria chamomilla (German), and Anthemis nobilis (Roman or English). Their healing properties are very similar, but German chamomile is the variety most often grown in the United States today. Chamomile was used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and in Ayurvedic healing in India.

Digestion

Chamomile is a traditional cooling digestive aid, as the volatile oils in the flowers relax the smooth muscles in the intestinal tract, making it an excellent anti-spasmodic (helps relieve cramping in the digestive tract). It is also used to alleviate ulcers, upset stomach, heartburn, gas, and diverticular disorders.

Anxiety

Chamomile has a long history as a mild, relaxing, sleep-aid that alleviates insomnia and anxiety, and it can be used safely to calm restless children.

Women’s Health

Its antispasmodic qualities help to soothe menstrual cramps.

Skin

Its soothing properties make it suitable for allergy-prone skin types; it heals mucous membranes of the skin and can be applied externally to wounds, burns, and eczema. Salve made with chamomile can soothe sore nipples in nursing mothers.

Using Chamomile

It has been estimated that 1 million cups of chamomile tea are ingested every day worldwide, making it the most widely consumed herb tea! You can easily buy chamomile tea already bagged, or find it at your local natural foods store bulk department. Sip a cup of tea (you can even add a slice of fresh ginger for a balancing, warming effect) after meals, or before bed time. Blue chamomile oil is used topically, look for healing salves that contain chamomile, and you’ll also find it in shampoos to lighten hair!

Fresh Ginger Root!


A perennial herb native to China and India, ginger root (Zingiber officinale) has been used for centuries in cooking and for its medicinal properties. Although the leaves of the plant can be eaten as in a salad, the root (rhizome) is where the greatest benefits lie. The active ingredients in ginger have digestive, circulatory, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Digestion

Ginger is perhaps the best herb for digestion. It helps to rid the stomach and intestines of gas, and also aids in the digestion of fatty foods. Nausea Ginger has been widely used to prevent and treat nausea related to motion sickness and pregnancy-related morning sickness. Circulation

Ginger’s warming quality improves and stimulates circulation, facilitating the flow of blood throughout the body. Further, preliminary studies suggest that ginger may lower cholesterol and prevent blood from clotting, thus protecting blood vessels from blockage.

Immune System

Ginger tones the immune system and boosts its ability to fight infections, cold, and flu. It is diaphoretic (induces sweating), which helps fevers run their course.

Anti-inflammatory

Ginger has long been used to reduce inflammation, thus reducing pain, especially with arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Using Fresh Ginger

Fresh ginger root is sold in the produce section of markets. Look for a root with a firm, cool, smooth skin, free of mold and as few joints as possible. If it is wrinkled and looks dry, it will be woody inside.

An easy way to remove the skin from fresh ginger is to scrape it off with the tip of a tea spoon. The ginger can then be grated, sliced, or minced, and added to recipes for a fresh, vibrant flavor.

To warm up on a cool autumn morning, or to boost your “digestive fires” after a heavy meal, brew a cup of fresh ginger tea. Steep five or six thin slices of ginger root in hot water. Add lemon and honey if desired.

Fresh unpeeled ginger can be stored in the refrigerator in an airy container for up to three weeks.