Cinnamon Bark Extract
This ancient spice is a popular flavoring in many cuisines, and is especially noted for its delectable aroma. There are many species of cinnamon, but Chinese cinnamomum trees, evergreens native to China and Vietnam and now cultivated in many parts of Asia, are the source for medicinal cinnamon bark remedies used in Chinese, Indian, and Western traditional medicine. A close relative, cassia, is often used interchangeably with cinnamon. Its name comes from the Greek word kassia, meaning "strip off the bark." Medicinal use of cinnamon bark was first recorded in Chinese formularies as early as 2700 B.C. The herb has been used as a healing aid for stomach upset and gas, diarrhea, rheumatism, kidney ailments, and abdominal pain. Cinnamon "drops" containing the essential oils of cinnamon and cassia are also used for many of the same purposes. Possibly because Chinese cinnamon has antiseptic properties, the bark and the essential oils it contains are also used in topical products such as liniments, soaps, and lotions, and in oral preparations such as toothpaste and mouthwash. Cinnamon comes in â€˜quillsâ€™, strips of bark rolled one in another. The pale brown to tan bar strips are generally thin, the spongy outer bark having been scraped off. The best varieties are pale and parchment-like in appearance. Cinnamon is very similar to cassia, and in North America little distinction is given, though cassia tends to dominate the market. Cinnamon is also available ground, and can be distinguished from cassia by its lighter colour and much finer powder.