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Cinnamon is a really interesting chemical, and there are REALLY neat things to use cinnamon for, besides flavoring your foods.
For the past few years, I have been researching the chemical structure of cinnamon and all the cool things it is good for. I have tested it out on a number of ideas to see what works, what doesn’t, and anything unusual it may benefit.
These easy chemistry hacks will have you using cinnamon in a whole new way, not to mention understand more about the chemical!
Cinnamomum cassia, or Chinese cinnamon, is an evergreen tree. All parts of this tree have specific chemicals. For this article, we will be talking about the bark. Most cinnamon we use today for the home comes directly from the bark.
Other chemicals found in cinnamon are eugenol, from the leaf, and camphor, from the root-bark oil.
The bark of cinnamon contains a chemical known as cinnamaldehyde.
Cinnamaldehyde is the aldehyde which contributes to the flavor and odor we all know. The essential oil of cinnamon bark is about 90% cinnamaldehyde, so it is very potent.
Chemistry Fact: For those that aren’t familiar with chemistry, an aldehyde is an organic functional group found in many chemicals. Many fragrances are aldehydes. Aldehydes are typically the source of scent for essential oils and herbs, like cilantro and vanilla. A common aldehyde everyone has heard of is formaldehyde! But all aldehydes have different properties depending on where they are derived from. The most common thing among them, is the fragrance. See the picture below for the similarities between cinnamaldehyde and vanillin.
Anyways, cinnamaldehyde is one of the reasons cinnamon has unique uses.
Use of Cinnamaldehyde
Chemically, cinnamaldehyde is a fungicide. It has been tested and proven to prevent fungus for plants and crops. The research for this was tested by applying cinnamon to the root systems of plants.
How you can use it: Sprinkle cinnamon in the soil around your plants. If fungus is an issue in your area, try planting your plants with cinnamon around the root system in the dirt. I have also used cinnamon oil (shown at the bottom of this post)! You can dilute it with some water to use on soil or roots.
Another use of cinnamaldehyde is a deterrent for insects or animals. Chemistry research has tested that the scent will deter animals, like cats or dogs. It can also keep away various insects due to the odor.
How you can use it: Try sprinkling it around flower beds or areas that you want to keep animals away from. Remember, it will need to be a heavy dose for animals to realize it’s there. To deter insects, sprinkle around areas they travel like side walk cracks, door frames, etc. Research isn’t sure how many or types of insects it will keep away, but it will help with most species.
Cinnamaldehyde has also been tested to be a corrosion inhibitor for steel or other ferrous alloys. Corrosion inhibitors are chemical compounds that will slow down corrosion when added to a liquid or gas.
How you can use it: Do you have something that corrodes around your house? Maybe a steel pipe that is always damp, or something outside? Try using some cinnamon bark essential oil, diluting with a little water, and rubbing it on the item. Do this periodically to prevent corrosion. The possibilities are endless on this and what you can try. Ground cinnamon is not strong enough to work for this, but an essential oil is potent enough to work.
Use of Cinnamon for Health
Health experts have been researching cinnamon benefits for decades. Most people know it is really good for your health. I could write a book on the health benefits, that’s how many there are!
For this article, I want to discuss the advantages of cinnamon for health and what I use it for.
It is great for so many gut issues since it is an anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory. Since my husband lost his colon 7 years ago, I research anything to do with intestinal health. This article discusses cinnamon being healthy for the colon, including inhibiting colon cancer growth!
Chemist Tip for Eating Cinnamon: Many health claims say that pure ground cinnamon, or ceylon cinnamon, is best for your health (This is an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal). It is more potent and more research has been done on it. When it comes to using cinnamon oils for garden uses or some of the other tips above, I prefer the cinnamon bark oils shown below. This is from the bark and has done best for the uses we’ve discussed here.
How I am using it:
One. Add to Coffee!
Cinnamon is also a natural blood sugar stabilizer. This article from Prevention talks about this a little.
The hot water in coffee enhances the effects of cinnamon, so it is perfect to sprinkle on top of your fresh coffee.
Anytime I make smoothies, I add at least 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Anytime I can add an additional anti-inflammatory substance to what I am eating, I will definitely do so for rheumatoid arthritis.
When I eat any fruit, I always sprinkle cinnamon on top!
If I am eating oatmeal, there will be cinnamon in it for sure
Sometimes when I make my morning collagen tea for RA, I also sprinkle cinnamon in it. I will alternate using cayenne pepper and cinnamon (or sometimes both ?)
Anytime you make a cup of tea, sprinkle cinnamon in it!
Six. Sweet Potatoes
I love sweet potatoes and eat them every few days at least. One of my favorite, simple ways to make it, is bake until the potato is really soft. Then, I sprinkle a dose of cinnamon it and some Himalayan pink salt. Sometimes I will also add hummus to the top.
The list goes on and on for ways to add cinnamon to your diet. When it comes to this type of anti-inflammatory food, I say it is better to use it often because why not? If something has the potential to help my body function and feel better, it is worth it!
Cinnamon has so many unique uses for your body, home, and plants!
Enjoy using it in some new way!