Fast facts: soothes indigestion, controls blood sugar in diabetics, prevents stomach ulcers, wards off urinary tract infections, fights tooth decay and gum disease, prevents vaginal yeast infections.
Cinnamon is more than just a kitchen spice. It’s been used medicinally for thousands of years to fight tooth decay, clear up urinary tract infections and soothe stomach irritation. Modern science has confirmed its value for preventing infection and indigestion, and has also discovered a couple of new therapeutic uses for the herb.
Cinnamon comes from the bark of an Asian tree. (The sticks are actually pieces of bark.) Chinese herbalists still recommend it for fever, diarrhea and menstrual problems. In the Bible, Moses used it in holy anointing oil.
Boastful Benefits: Several toothpastes are flavored with cinnamon, and for good reason. Cinnamon is an antiseptic that helps kill the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Cinnamon also kills many disease-causing fungi and viruses. One German study showed it “suppresses completely” the cause of most urinary tract infections and the fungus responsible for vaginal yeast infections.
Like many culinary spices, cinnamon helps soothe the stomach. But a Japanese animal study revealed that it also may help prevent ulcers. To brew a stomach-soothing tea, use ½ to ¾ teaspoon of powdered cinnamon per cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 to 20 minutes. Drink up to three cups day.
It also appears to help people with diabetes metabolize sugar. In one form of diabetes (Type II, or non-insulin-dependent), the pancreas produces insulin, but the body cannot use it efficiently to break down glucose-the simple sugar that fuels body functions. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers discovered that cinnamon reduces the amount of insulin necessary for glucose metabolism.
In foods, simply season to taste. For people with diabetes, 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon per meal may help control blood sugar levels.
In powdered form, culinary amounts of cinnamon are nontoxic, although allergic reactions are possible. Cinnamon oil, however, is a different story. On the skin, it may cause redness and burning. Taken internally, it can cause nausea, vomiting and possibly even kidney damage. Don’t ingest cinnamon oil.
Cinnamon gives a deep internal warming and can help with problems arising from coldness, such as cold extremities, cramping, aches and pains from cold or flu onset, stiffness of muscles and joints and indigestion. It also helps warm and strengthen kidneys and liver.
Uses include circulation, digestion, and relief from coldness and congestion.  It is used to strengthen the constitution, blood and energy. Cinnamon also helps relieve lower pains and menstrual discomfort.
One of my favorite ways of dealing with the symptoms of a cold or coldness: Heat a pot of water. Add 1-2 broken cinnamon sticks, 3-4 inches of astragalus root, several slices of fresh ginger and a few whole cloves to the pot. I will let the pot steep for an hour or two on the warmer then sip the tea throughout the day. This tea will also work well for indigestion right after a large meal.
Try a cinnamon stick, or sprinkled powdered cinnamon, in a cup of hot wine with lemon (especially good for a cold), or sprinkled over hot coffee with foamy crème on top.