A Haitian Treasure: Canell (Cinnamon)

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Look in your kitchen cabinet now. I bet you have cinnamon in it. It's a kitchen favorite! 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. In this post, I'll explore the benefits and uses of cinnamon, a wonderful Haitian treasure.
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 (farting) 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 in relieving gas and facilitating digestion. 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 HIV-1 and HIV-2
  • current research on its effectiveness against HSV-1 and HSV-2 (Herpes)
  • current research on its effectiveness in inhibiting Alzheimer's disease
  • astringent, antiseptic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-spasmodic, anti-oxidant anti-microbial
  • general stimulant
  • can decrease blood sugar
  • in TCM, it is believed to improve energy, vitality, and circulation
  • in Ayurveda, it is used to cure diabetes, indigestion, and colds
Some Uses:
  • as a preservative
  • to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, take 1/2 teaspoon per day
  • can stop blood clots
  • a combination of honey and cinnamon can relieve arthritis pain
  • use as a natural food preservative
  • can boost cognitive function and memory
  • can alleviate pain associated with menstrual cramps

Know your treasures.

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The "Haitian Treasures" series explores the magnificent benefits and uses of Haiti's natural resources, which I call "Haitian Treasures" because they are truly national gems.  Naïka in Balance is the premiere source for information on healing herbs used by Haitians. In this series, I explore the tie between Haiti's natural resources and natural, traditional, and holistic healing.

Learn about other Haitian Treasures explored on this blog here!

The two most popular Haitian Treasures on this blog are:

Castor oil/l'huile palma christi
Wonder of the world plant/fey lougawou

Naika, the writer of this blog, has a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and a Masters of Science in Acupuncture as of June 2017. Please do not take the information presented on this blog, as medical advice, without consulting your certified health care practitioner. Knowledge is power and your health is your wealth!