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by Molly Kay Stoltz

Feeling a little indigestion from your last holiday party? You probably have the remedy hiding in your baking cupboard.

Just today at work I was a bit full from my lunch. I reached into my secret stash of tea, and found the ingredient I was looking for- cinnamon.

A cup of chai roobis later, and my stomach was back to normal!

Cinnamon is a tasty herb made from the bark of a cinnamon tree. There are many varieties, but we in the U.S. use cassia, or Chinese cinnamon.  However, cassia is not actually the “true” cinnamon. “True” cinnamon comes from Ceylon, and is much more pungent than the variety we’ve all grown up with. You can find different varieties at specialty spice shops if you are looking for a stronger tasting cinnamon!

Cinnamon has been used as far back as 2700 BC in ancient Egypt and China, and was widely used in medieval Europe on meats and with fruit. Today, we sprinkle it in stews and soups, steep it in teas, simmer it in curries, and of course, bake it in our cinnamon rolls and pumpkin pies. I can’t imagine my morning bowl of oatmeal without a dash of cinnamon.

Cinnamon isn’t just tasty, however. It has many benefits for your health, including soothing an upset stomach and aiding digestion, clearing urinary-tract infections, helping diabetics metabolize sugar better, relieving pain and inflammation, slowing the flow of blood, and killing disease-causing fungi and viruses. Cinnamon is a powerhouse herb, but is also relatively side-affect free- IN MODERATION, of course. IMPORTANT: Too much cinnamon will create a laxative effect. Don’t over-do it!

During the holiday season, when we do tend to overindulge on everything but cinnamon, it can be helpful to use cinnamon to break down fats during digestion and reduce intestinal gas. A spicy tea like chai or apple cinnamon tea or a spiced apple cider is a wonderful after-dinner drink.

Here’s a recipe for a spiced cider- add a dash of amaretto for an extra-special treat : ).

Spiced Cider

5 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
5 whole allspice kernels
5 whole cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 gallon apple cider
1 or 2 oranges

Blend cinnamon, star anise, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and apple cider in a large pot. Use a zester or grater to remove the rind of the oranges, and add to the cider mix. Add the juice of the oranges to the cider. Heat to just below simmer for several hours. Ladle into mugs and serve with a cinnamon stick.

And the extra-added bonus? Cinnamon has a germicidal effect. Using cinnamon may add extra protection from the flu and colds that appear during the holidays. So, here’s to cinnamon for keeping us healthy and happy as we go about our merry way! Happy Holidays!

Resources:

Cinnamon Health Benefits on The Modern Herbal

Cinnamon Varieties by Vanilla Review

Molly Kay Stoltz, urban garden theatre diva extroardinaire, is joining the Sprout Chicago family! We are excited to have Molly coming on board to contribute her knowledge of green city living.

Molly runs her own sustainable clothing business, works at one of Chicago’s leading garden emporiums and also blogs about natural health remedies on Urban Herbal Girl.

If you have a moment take a peek at her freshly posted bio under the Contributors page. And if you’re itching to do some earth-friendly shopping take a peek at her adorable handmade line of clothing and accessories Rags by Sock Monkey here.

Welcome Molly!

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