This wonderfully aromatic herb is just one member of the Laurel family, a botanical clan numbering upwards of 4,000 representatives. Saigon cinnamon’s cousins include sassafras and avocado.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
Among the three cinnamon-like cassia trees and the one true cinnamon itself, Saigon cinnamon (a cassia) offers the richest source of the essential oil (1 to 5 percent) that distinguishes these herbs in both the kitchen and the medicine chest. Indeed, so concentrated is the oil in a stick of Saigon cinnamon that it is reported to spark when exposed to a flame. Where true cinnamon — which hails from Sri Lanka (formerly the island nation Ceylon) — offers a mild, subtle flavor, the cassia cinnamons — most notably Saigon cinnamon — are characteristically sweet. Both the tangy bite and the sweetness of red hot candies flow from the high oil content found in this Vietnamese spice. Medicinally, the cinnamons are valued by diabetics for their ability to lower blood sugar. Folk remedies also look to cinnamon to treat gas, stomach cramps, high blood pressure and difficult menstruation. A highly valued, hard-to-get spice in antiquity, a large quantity of cinnamon was burned at the funeral of the wife of the Roman emperor Nero.
ABOUT THE HERB
Saigon cinnamon is an evergreen tree native to mainland Southeast Asia. Named after Vietnam’s largest city, this medicinal plant is nowhere to be found within the wide sweep of that southern urban area. Rather, Saigon cinnamon thrives in the Central Highlands. More akin to the cassia clan than its cousin — the true cinnamon — this botanical offers the same basic culinary and medicinal treasures.
The diabetic along with tea aficionados who value a spicier version of their morning herbal brew can safely savor Saigon cinnamon tea. It calms the stomach and helps with colds and coughs while adding a natural zing! As a cautionary note, avoid Saigon cinnamon when taking medicines for extremely low blood sugar.
The opinions expressed are solely the writer’s. NOTE: Visit herbalastrology.com to read Ted PanDeva Zagar’s other articles and columns that discuss the benefits of herbs and natural foods. DISCLAIMER: The author’s comments are not intended to serve as medical advice, and he urges his readers to seek qualified wellness professionals to resolve matters of health.