Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, synonym C. zeylanicum) is a small evergreen tree 10–15 metres (32.8–49.2 feet) tall, belonging to the family Lauraceae, and is native to Sri Lanka.
The leaves are ovate-oblong in shape, 7–18 cm (2.75–7.1 inches) long. The flowers, which are arranged in panicles, have a greenish color, and have a distinct odor. The fruit is a purple one-centimeter berry containing a single seed.
Its flavor is due to an aromatic essential oil that makes up 0.5% to 1% of its composition.
This oil is prepared by roughly pounding the bark, macerating it in seawater, and then quickly distilling the whole. It is of a golden-yellow color, with the characteristic odor of cinnamon and a very hot aromatic taste. The pungent taste and scent come from cinnamic aldehyde or cinnamaldehyde and, by the absorption of oxygen as it ages, it darkens in color and develops resinous compounds. Chemical components of the essential oil include ethyl cinnamate, eugenol, cinnamaldehyde, beta-caryophyllene, linalool, and methyl chavicol.
The name cinnamon comes from Greek kinnámōmon, itself ultimately from Phoenician. The botanical name for the spice—Cinnamomum zeylanicum—is derived from Sri Lanka's former (colonial) name, Ceylon.
In Bengali, it is called "Darchini". InMalayalam, karugapatta and in Tamil pattai or lavangappattai. In Telugu, it is called Dalchina Chakka, Chakka meaning bark or wood. In Indonesia, where it is cultivated in Java and Sumatra, it is called kayu manis and sometimes cassia vera, the "real' cassia. In Sri Lanka, in the original Sinhala, cinnamon is known as kurundu, recorded in English in the 17th century as Korunda. In Sanskrit cinnamon is known as tvak or dārusitā. In Urdu, Hindi, and Hindustani cinnamon is called dalchini, in Assamese it is called alseni, and in Gujarati taj. In Farsi (Persian), it is called darchin. In Arabic it is called qerfa.
Cinnamon (canella) output in 2005
Cinnamomum verum, from Koehler's Medicinal-Plants (1887)
Quills of true cinnamon bark and ground cinnamon.
Cinnamon has been known from remote antiquity; the first mention of a particular spice in the Old Testament is of cinnamon where Moses is commanded to use both sweet cinnamon (Hebrew קִנָּמוֹן, qinnāmôn) and cassia in the holy anointing oil; in Proverbs , where the lover's bed is perfumed with myrrh, aloe and cinnamon; and in Song of Solomon, a song describing the beauty of his beloved, cinnamon scents her garments like the smell of Lebanon.
It was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even for a god: a fine inscription records the gift of cinnamon and cassia to the temple of Apollo at Miletus.
Though its source was kept mysterious in the Mediterranean world for centuries by the middlemen who handled the spice trade, to protect their monopoly as suppliers, cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka. It was imported to Egypt as early as 2000 BC, but those who report that it had come from China confuse it with cassia. It is also alluded to by Herodotus and other classical writers.
It was too expensive to be commonly used on funeral pyres in Rome, but the Emperor Nero is said to have burned a year's worth of the city's supply at the funeral for his wife Poppaea Sabina in 65 AD.
Before the foundation of Cairo, Alexandria was the Mediterranean shipping port of cinnamon. Europeans who knew the Latin writers who were quoting Herodotus knew that cinnamon came up the Red Sea to the trading ports of Egypt, but whether from Ethiopia or not was less than clear.
When the sieur de Joinville accompanied his king to Egypt on Crusade in 1248, he reported what he had been told— and believed— that cinnamon was fished up in nets at the source of the Nile out at the edge of the world. Through the Middle Ages, the source of cinnamon was a mystery to the Western world. Marco Polo avoided precision on this score.
In Herodotus and other authors, Arabia was the source of cinnamon: giant Cinnamon birds collected the cinnamon sticks from an unknown land where the cinnamon trees grew, and used them to construct their nests; the Arabs employed a trick to obtain the sticks.
This story was current as late as 1310 in Byzantium, although in the first century, Pliny the Elder had written that the traders had made this up in order to charge more. The first mention of the spice growing in Sri Lanka was in Zakariya al-Qazwini's Athar al-bilad wa-akhbar al-‘ibad ("Monument of Places and History of God's Bondsmen") in about 1270. This was followed shortly thereafter by John of Montecorvino, in a letter of about 1292.
Indonesian rafts transported cinnamon (known in Indonesia as kayu manis- literally "sweet wood") on a "cinnamon route" directly from the Moluccas to East Africa, where local traders then carried it north to the Roman market.
Arab traders brought the spice via overland trade routes to Alexandria in Egypt, where it was bought by Venetian traders from Italy who held a monopoly on the spice trade in Europe. The disruption of this trade by the rise of other Mediterranean powers, such as the Mamluk Sultans and the Ottoman Empire, was one of many factors that led Europeans to search more widely for other routes to Asia.
Portuguese traders finally landed in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) at the beginning of the sixteenth century and restructured the traditional production and management of cinnamon by the Sinhalese, who later held the monopoly for cinnamon in Ceylon. The Portuguese established a fort on the island in 1518 and protected their own monopoly for over a hundred years.
Dutch traders finally dislodged the Portuguese by allying with the inland Kingdom of Kandy. They established a trading post in 1638, took control of the factories by 1640, and expelled all remaining Portuguese by 1658. "The shores of the island are full of it", a Dutch captain reported, "and it is the best in all the Orient: when one is downwind of the island, one can still smell cinnamon eight leagues out to sea."
The Dutch East India Company continued to overhaul the methods of harvesting in the wild, and eventually began to cultivate its own trees.
In 1767 Lord Brown of East India company Established Anjarakkandy Cinnamon Estate near Anjarakkandy in Cannanore( Now kannur) district of Kerala and this estate become Asia's largest cinnamon estate.
The British took control of the island from the Dutch in 1796. However, the importance of the monopoly of Ceylon was already declining, as cultivation of the cinnamon tree spread to other areas, the more common cassia bark became more acceptable to consumers, and coffee, tea, sugar, and chocolate began to outstrip the popularity of traditional spices.
Medicinal Uses - Cinnamon bark
In medicine it acts like other volatile oils and once had a reputation as a cure for colds. It has also been used to treat diarrhea and other problems of the digestive system. Cinnamon is high in antioxidant activity. The essential oil of cinnamon also has antimicrobial properties, which can aid in the preservation of certain foods.
Cinnamon has been reported to have remarkable pharmacological effects in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance. However, the plant material used in the study was mostly from cassia and only few of them are truly from Cinnamomum.
Recent advancement in phytochemistry has shown that it is a cinnamtannin B1 isolated from C. zeylanicum which is of therapeutic effect on Type 2 diabetes, with the exception of the postmenopausal patients studied on C. cassia. Cinnamon has traditionally been used to treat toothache and fight bad breath and its regular use is believed to stave off common cold and aid digestion.
Anti-inflammatory (COX2 inhibitor), powerfully antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anticoagulant, circulatory stimulant, stomach protectant (ulcers), antiparasitic (worms)USES: Cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases, viral infections (Herpes etc), digestive complaints, ulcers, and warts.
Cinnamon is used in the system of Thelemic Magick for Solar invocations, according to the correspondences listed in Aleister Crowley's work Liber 777. In Hoodoo, it is a multipurpose ingredient used for purification, luck, love, and money.
Cinnamon has been proposed for use as an insect repellent, although it remains untested. Cinnamon leaf oil has been found to be very effective in killing mosquito larvae. The compounds cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, eugenol, and anethole, that are contained in cinnamon leaf oil, were found to have the highest effectiveness against mosquito larvae.
It is reported that regularly drinking of Cinnamomum zeylanicum tea made from the bark could be beneficial to oxidative stress related illness in humans, as the plant part contains significant antioxidant potential.