Posts tagged ‘Detox’

Cinnamon: The Yummiest Medicine?

As a kid growing up in Acton, MA, I used to sip hot apple cider through a rather unique straw: a cinnamon stick.  It was surprisingly effective as a straw, but it would also tantalize my youthful taste buds with a continuous subtle hint of delicious cinnamon.  I doubt I am alone in associating cinnamon with happy childhood memories: winter holidays by a fire, surrounded by family and music; comforting breakfasts and desserts; happiness and magical camaraderie.

Cinnamon is obtained by peeling away the inner bark of evergreen trees native to Sri Lanka, southwest India and parts of Asia.  As the bark dries, it curls into the delightful cinnamon sticks – also called quills.  It has been revered as a medicinal (and tasty) spice since biblical times.  In the Bible, the first century CE Roman emperor Nero burned a year’s worth of cinnamon on his wife’s funeral pyre as a symbol of the depth of his loss.  Cinnamon was used in ancient Egypt for embalming purposes, as a medicinal herb, and in beverages.  It was even mentioned in one of the earliest books in Chinese botanical medicine, dated to about 2700 BCE.  Cinnamon was also one of the first commodities traded consistently between Europe and the Near East.  All in all, cinnamon is not exactly a new superfood – people of several cultures have known how amazing it is for literally millennia.

There are over 200 types of cinnamon.  The most popular kinds are Ceylon cinnamon (considered “true” cinnamon) and cassia (a Chinese variety).  North American companies frequently use cassia in lieu of Ceylon cinnamon or heavily supplement with cassia because it is significantly less expensive than Ceylon cinnamon – even though the taste is harsher and far less refined.  There is a simple test to determine whether your cinnamon has cassia mixed in: cassia is full of starch whereas true cinnamon is not.  Starch turns blue when it meets iodine, so unleashing an iodine dropper upon a sample of your cinnamon will reveal its ingredients.  Cassia will turn blue and true cinnamon will retain its golden brown color.

Like most delicious plant foods, cinnamon has many healing qualities.  Some of the scientifically confirmed effects of cinnamon are that it has antibiotic, diaphoretic (inducing perspiration – helpful for detoxing), antiulcerative, digestive, anticonvulsant, diuretic, and carminative (flatulence relieving) properties, as a sedative for smooth muscle, and as a stimulant for circulation.

In North America, cinnamon is most frequently used as a supplement to help regulate blood sugar.  In one scientific study of 60 people with type 2 diabetes, 1 to 6 daily grams of cinnamon for 40 days reduced fasting blood glucose by 18 to 29 percent.  Triglycerides were reduced by 23 to 30 percent, LDL cholesterol by 7 to 27 percent, and total cholesterol by 12 to 26 percent.

The essential oils in the bark are responsible for cinnamon’s healing qualities.  The oils contain many volatile substances, including the active components cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, eugenol, trans-cinnamic acid, and cinnamyl alcohol.  These oils have been demonstrated to have antifungal, antiviral, bactericidal effects, and antioxidant properties.

Ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks should both be stored cool, dark and dry in a tightly sealed glass container.  Ground cinnamon stays good for about six months and cinnamon sticks stay good for about a year.

Word of caution: much like spinach, cinnamon contains moderate amounts of oxalate and thus should be avoided by those with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones.  Also, there have not been sufficient tests done on pregnant and lactating women to ensure cinnamon’s safety when used as a supplement during these times – although cassia appears to be safe.

Here are some recipes to help any cinnamon-consuming endeavors you may  have (I mean, who can blame you?):

The Renegade Health Show has a very informative video about how cinnamon is harvested:

I have been doing quite a bit of recipe experimentation with cinnamon recently, so Vibrant Maine is bound to post new cinnamon recipes soon!  Until then, toodle-loo!

Lara

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June 13, 2010 at 6:40 pm 3 comments

Sweet the Sting – Nettles!

Nettles are so well known that they need no description.
They may be found, by feeling, in the darkest night.
~ Culpeper (1561)

As our clever herbalist friend, Culpeper, has written above, Nettles (Urtica dioica) love you so much and they are quite expressive about it with their sharp-toothed sting.  These green leafy wonders are a valuable wild food and can help us reset our bodies through their cleansing and nutritive powers.  Like many of our herbal friends, we want to invite Nettles into our life for the long run to get their full effect.  Nettles strengthen the kidneys and adrenal glands, activate the metabolism, nourish the liver and blood, and improve elasticity of veins.  By bringing Nettles into your body you’re opening up to wild, vital energy. Allergies run and hide when Nettles ride in as they strengthen the outer membranes of cells which makes them less vulnerable to inflammation and allergic reactions. Nettles help to regulate the thyroid and warm nettle tea helps the body to release excess mucus from the lungs and colon and stops the cycle of mucous membrane hyperactivity.

They’re also chock full of vitamins and minerals including:

  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Silica
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Protein
  • And more!

Overall, Nettles want to nourish you
with their sharp-toothed love of awareness
they remind you of your greatness
and your right to feel awesome!

So how can you incorporate their green-sting goodness into your diet?  Nettles are delicious juiced and in a bright green smoothie.  They have a light, grassy taste which I enjoy quite often in teas.  You can also dehydrate the beauties and blend them up into a powder, making your own wild super food powder! I also use Nettles for my hair, in an herbal vinegar rinse, for beautiful bounce and shine as well as to strengthen my nails by soaking them in a strong Nettle tea.  I eat them, drink them, soak in them – we’re pretty good friends.

Eat Wild – Eat Free – Eat Nettles!

If you need more ways to express your Nettle love, be sure to check out the Nettle Appreciation Society on Facebook started by the always sparkling Kate Magic.

May 7, 2010 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Exciting New Blog Entries Coming Up!

In case you have not noticed, Vibrant Maine has been posting fun instructional videos more frequently lately – and things are once again about to get more exciting!  Every Tuesday and Saturday we will be posting a new blog entry.  Subjects likely to be researched and discussed soon on our blog include:

  • Various benefits and forms of exercise
  • The latest research on various nutritional properties of food
  • Holistic skin care
  • Detox techniques
  • Curing insomnia
  • Maintaining ideal blood sugar levels
  • Tips for pregnancy and interviews with midwives
  • Female and male specific health advice during various stages of life
  • Clearing acne
  • Reviews of other great raw living blogs

And as always…

  • Great raw recipes and food preparation tips!

We would always love to hear from you!  If you would like us to discuss a subject in our blog or in a video, please leave your idea in a comment and we will take it into consideration.

Want to make sure you don’t miss out on the information in our blog entries?  Simply visit our website at www.vibrantmaine.wordpress.com and use the link on the right column to subscribe.  You can also follow us on Twitter and YouTube!

Thanks so much!

Vibrant Maine

February 13, 2010 at 10:21 pm Leave a comment


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