A Haitian Treasure: Canell (Cinnamon)

Cinnamon, cinnamomum zeylanicum, is a spice obtained from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree. It is native only to the island of Sri Lanka, but is now naturalized in many other countries. To prepare the cinnamon spice that we are all so used to, the bark of the cinnamon tree is dried and rolled into cinnamon sticks or ground into a powder. Cinnamon has been celebrated by great nations since the beginning of civilization because of its lovely spicy aromatic scent and flavor. At one time, cinnamon was even more valuable than gold. In Haiti, cinnamon is called canell and it is found everywhere. Haitians use cinnamon for culinary purposes to flavor drinks and desserts and for medicinal purposes to cure a variety of ailments, mostly gastrointestinal ones.

In Haiti, canell is a household staple. Even though it is mostly used to flavor delicious dishes, it is also known to cure an incredible variety of ailments. It is most renown for stopping vomiting and for relieving flatulence and diarrhea. Haitians generally chop the bark up into a simple tea and combine it with other popular spices like anise or ginger. This tea can help to relieve gas and indigestion. It is also totally common to see Haitians chewing on cinnamon sticks. Chewing on cinnamon sticks can relieve toothaches, freshen your breath, and improve overall oral health. Haitians do warn those with high blood pressure to stay away from cinnamon though, since it is a stimulant that can raise blood pressure.

Main Constituents:
  • cinnamaldehyde- essential oil
  • eugenol- antiviral
  • good source of manganese, dietary fiber, iron, and calcium
Some benefits:
  • current research on its effectiveness against HSV-1 and HSV-2 (Herpes)
  • astringent, antiseptic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-spasmodic, anti-oxidant anti-microbial
  • can decrease blood sugar
  • in TCM, it is believed to improve energy, vitality, and circulation
  • in Ayurveda, it is used to treat diabetes, indigestion, and colds
  • has been shown to boost cognitive function and memory
Suggested uses:
  • as a preservative in oil form
  • as a powder supplement that can be added to various foods and beverages
  • as a topical pain reliever in powder of essential oil form
  • as a tea, especially combined with other aromatic spices (adds a sweet and spicy flavor)

Know your treasures.

In health,
Dr. Naika

The "Haitian Treasures" series was created by Dr. Naika in 2012. This series explores the magnificent benefits and uses of Haiti's natural resources, which Dr. Naika calls "Haitian Treasures". In this series, Dr. Naika explores the tie between Haiti's natural resources and natural, traditional, and holistic healing.

This blog post was originally posted on Dr. Naika's lifestyle blog, Naika in Balance. Dr. Naika's work is copyrighted. Please do not copy or repost Dr. Naika's work without citing her content as the original source.