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Cinnamon, an ancient plant that was once as valuable as gold, has been widely used both as a culinary spice and in traditional herbal medicine for centuries.
Ancient Chinese have known of the special properties associated with cinnamon and have used it for health purposes such as warming the kidneys, nourishing the qi and blood, and treating diseases. Recent studies in the west have confirmed many health benefits of cinnamon.
Dr. Hu Naiwen, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) physician at the Shanghai Tong Te Tang in Taipei, Taiwan, demonstrates how to use recipes containing cinnamon to relieve low back pain and treat prostate problems in his popular YouTube program “Hu Naiwen’s Health Program.”
Hu says that because cinnamon is a heat-generating substance in nature, it is effective at warming the kidneys and nourishing qi and blood. TCM believes that the kidneys are the innate foundation, qi is the “energy” or “vitality” that constitutes life in the body, and TCM generally refers to the substance that replenishes nutrients in the body as blood. Qi and blood are interdependent and work in tandem. They circulate around the body, nourish the organs and tissues, and maintain all vital physiological activities of the human body.
At present, both Chinese and western medicine have found common ground in their respective research findings regarding the medicinal use of cinnamon. The medical community is making use of the natural medicinal properties of cinnamon, which Chinese medicine believes will provide additional support for people’s health by warming the kidneys and nourishing qi and blood.
Hu emphasized that the cinnamon powder bought in TCM stores is the one that is most trustworthy and effective. And the better the quality, the greater the medicinal properties of the cinnamon. Moreover, one should always keep the cinnamon properly sealed and leave it in a dry, cool place.
Many of the following health issues resulting from kidney deficiency have been shown to improve with cinnamon.
Cinnamon Improves Osteoporosis and Relieves Low Back Pain
Hu pointed out that people with kidney deficiency often suffer from low back pain. Eating cinnamon will not only warm the kidneys and improve low back pain, but will also strengthen bones and teeth, and can even prevent gray hair.
A recent comprehensive review published in Kidney Research and Clinical Practice evaluated the mechanisms by which cinnamon may reduce complications of chronic kidney disease. Studies have pointed out that not only does cinnamon show beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes, but the bioactive compounds in cinnamon, such as cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid, and cinnamate, can also reduce common complications in patients with chronic kidney disease, including oxidative stress irritation, inflammation, hyperglycemia, gut dysbiosis, and dyslipidemia.
Shiquan Dabu Decoction to Tonify the Spleen and Stomach, Kidneys, and the 5 Internal Organs
The Shiquan Dabu Decoction contains 10 kinds of herbs: ginseng, Atractylodes macrocephala, Poria cocos, licorice, Angelica sinensis, Rehmannia glutinosa, Chuanxiong rhizoma, white peony root, astragalus and cinnamon. TCM stores usually sell ready-made complete herbal packages. Cooked with duck, hen or rooster can provide a great tonic. But people with a hot constitution are reminded not to eat too much; just eating a small bowl of it is enough.
TCM believes that everyone’s constitutions are different, and the two common types are either cold or hot. People with a cold constitution are more afraid of cold, especially prone to cold hands and feet, and their tongues are usually white and swollen; while people with a hot constitution are more afraid of heat, prone to a dry mouth, constipation, and a red tongue.
Shiquan Dabu Decoction Preparation:
- Ingredients: 3 chicken thighs, 30 ml (1 fluid ounce) of rice wine, 1800 ml (3.8 pints) of water, and a package of Shiquan Dabu decoction herbs (available in Chinese pharmacies).
- Cut the chicken into small pieces and blanch in hot water for later use.
- Boil the water in a pot; add chicken and rice wine, and skim off the foam on top while boiling.
- Add the Shiquan Dabu decoction package to the pot and return to a boil.
- Lower the temperature and cook for about 50 minutes, until ready to serve.
- If cooked longer, it will taste even better as the soup becomes more concentrated.
Prescription Containing Cinnamomi Ramulus to Treat the Prostate
One TCM prescription “Wuling Powder” contains the following medicinal herbs, Polyporus, Alisma, Atractylodes macrocephala, Poria, and Cinnamomi Ramulus. Zhang Zhongjing, an eminent physician in the Eastern Han Dynasty mentioned in his “Treatise on Febrile Diseases” that Wuling Powder is mainly used to treat edema, diarrhea, and dysuria.
For prostate problems of the elderly, Wu recommends using “Chunze Decoction,” which is prepared by adding some ginseng or Codonopsis pilosula into the Wuling Powder. He also advised that both of the above two decoctions need to be prescribed by a TCM physician.
Coffee and Cinnamon Can Improve Cold Hands and Feet
Adding a spoonful of cinnamon powder to coffee will not only have a wonderful aroma, but drinking it will warm your hands and feet, strengthen blood circulation, and will help women relieve menstrual pain.
Cinnamon With Brown Sugar Nourishes Blood and Warms the Spleen and Stomach
During chilly weather, you can make a cup of cinnamon brown sugar tea, which will instantly warm your entire body.
Add Wine to the Cinnamomi Ramulus to Help Relieve Migraine Headaches
According to a description in the ancient Chinese medical classic “Compendium of Materia Medica,” take 1 tael (37.5 grams) of powder made from cinnamon; add enough wine to make a paste, then apply it on the forehead and/or top of the head, which can help relieve a migraine headache. This can be so effective that it may no longer be necessary to take painkillers.
Taking cinnamon internally also has a migraine-relieving effect. A 2019 study published in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences found cinnamon to be an effective treatment for migraine attacks and inflammation.
The researchers randomly divided 50 migraine patients into two groups: one group took three cinnamon powder capsules a day (each containing 600 mg cinnamon powder), and the control group took three placebo capsules a day (each containing 600 mg cornstarch powder). The experiment lasted for two months. The results of the study showed that compared with the control group, the frequency, severity, and duration of migraine attacks in patients in the cinnamon group were significantly reduced.
Hu said there are four types of people who should eat less or not eat cinnamon:
- People with hot constitutions
- People who often have a dry mouth
- Patients with constipation
- Pregnant women
Safety Concerns of Cinnamon
Studies have shown that cinnamon is generally safe and can be used as an adjuvant therapy ingredient to improve the health of patients.
Because the coumarin concentration varies in different types of cinnamon and can be toxic to the liver in high amounts, cinnamon should be used in moderation.
Some studies suggest that the daily intake of coumarin should not exceed 0.1 mg/kg of body weight. While there is no authoritative consensus on recommendations for the daily intake of cinnamon, it is generally accepted to be about 1 g (0.04 ounce) to 4 g (0.14 ounce) a day.
*Some herbs mentioned in this article may be unfamiliar, but they are generally available in health food stores and Asian supermarkets.
Note: Because different people have different physiques, it is recommended to consult your doctor or TCM expert.
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