Natural History: My love of Cinnamon

Are you looking for a simple way to improve your digestion?

Or perhaps you'd like better circulation and flexibility?

Are you a yogi wishing to go deeper in your practice?

Try adding cinnamon to your teas, roasted veggies or favorite dessert!

The History of Cinnamon

Cinnamon‘s uses are many, including as a spice to baked goods, a topping for drinks and desserts and a spice for rubs and roasted gourds. According to, it was once used as a part of the embalming process as early as 2,000 B. C. in Egypt. In the Middle Ages it had particular value because it could be used to preserve meats.

Cinnamon has a long history throughout humanity. Before its origin was discovered, it inspired the great explorers of the world to pursue new adventures in search of its once highly-esteemed flavor.

“Around 1518, Portuguese traders discovered cinnamon at Ceylon, present day Sri Lanka, and conquered its island kingdom of Kotto, enslaving the island’s population and gaining control of the cinnamon trade for about a century” (

Ceylon cinnamon has a milder, sweeter flavor than its sister, Cassia cinnamon, primarily grown in Indonesia. Cassia is the more affordable of the two, and what we normally find in grocery stores today.

Cinnamon and Ayurveda

All of its interesting history aside, Cinnamon has outstanding health benefits, including improving digestion and circulation.

Dr. David Frawley, my favorite Ayurvedic author, has much to say about this plant’s healing effects in his co-written book, The Yoga of Herbs, and additionally on his website,

Ayurveda is known as the sister-science to Yoga, and they often employ each other for mutual benefit and longevity.

Within the Ayurvedic scope, cinnamon has a pungent, sweet energetic, lowering vata and kapha qualities and gently increasing pitta, although it is not as aggravating to pitta as others.

The tissues it heals are the plasma, blood, muscles, marrow and nerves, operating on the circulatory, digestive, respiratory and urinary systems.

Below are just a few of its actions, and how that action affects the body.

Cinnamon is a:

  • Stimulant, meaning it energizes the nervous system

  • Diaphoretic, meaning it cleanses the kidneys and increases urination

  • Carminative, meaning it reduces gas

  • Alterative, meaning it cleanses the blood (another name for anti-oxidant)

  • Expectorant, meaning it cleanses the lungs and helps to free mucous

  • Analgesic, meaning it has numbing or pain relieving qualities

Who knew this common and diverse plant could do so much!

Adding Cinnamon to Your Life

If you are interested in adding cinnamon to your diet, keep in mind that

“the benefits from herbs accrue over time and require the right diet and lifestyle regimens to support them. For this reason, we must give herbs the proper circumstances in which to work and not simply treat them like drugs taken independently of our lifestyle” (

Dr. Frawley offers great insight into how herbs like cinnamon can benefit your life and your yoga practice. If you are a yoga practitioner, you can add great value to your yoga practice with herbs,

“as they balance our Agni or digestive fire and help us access the higher Agnis of the mind and prana. Herbs are important adjuncts that can catalyze yogic processes that otherwise may be difficult to achieve by our personal efforts alone” (

Cinnamon specifically is an herb that:

  • Increases flexibility

  • Promotes circulation by strengthening the heart and warming the kidneys

  • Strengthens and harmonizes the flow of energy, especially vyana vayu

  • Improves musculoskeletal function and coordination

In his book, he adds that it is especially good for those of weak constitution, a nearly universal medicine, and a good general beverage for vata.

In his section on cinnamon, Dr. Frawley also mentions the Three Aromatics, an Ayurvedic formula of cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaves that together help in the absorption of medicines and strengthen samana vayu.

I began using cinnamon more frequently shortly after my son was born, feeling depleted and unenergized. My digestion and circulation were horrible from being so sedentary while nursing. Not to mention everything I cooked turned out awful - I didn't have the creative reserves available to me to create delicious dishes.

Cinnamon miraculously saved many of my awful dinners, and helped bring my energy and digestion back up to an operable level!

Lately, I have been using the Three Aromatics to accompany taking herbal bitters. I use 2-4 cups of boiled water steeped with one bay leaf, one cardamom pod and a piece of cinnamon bark, or a few dashes of cinnamon if whole bark pieces are unavailable.

If you are looking for a source for local Hawaii-grown cinnamon, check out Adaptations farm in Captain Cook, HI grows rich, earthy cinnamon and sells it as bark pieces or powder. You can also find it in my seasonal organic herbal tisane, Chocolate Holiday.

Cinnamon is also the base for Chai Detox, one of my classic Mana Tea blends. I love this tisane particularly because it detoxes but does not deplete, thanks in great part to the chai spices like cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg.

And if you haven't already, try my herbal “apple cider” recipe, completely free of apples, with cinnamon and Balanced Moon by Mana Tea.

Let me know if you feel inspired to connect more with herbs after reading this in the comments. How do herbs effect your life? Which ones do you connect with? Let's connect together!