Newsletter Notes by David Winston, AHG

March / April 2004


Several publications recently discussed recent research on Cinnamon, we asked our own David Winston to share his views:

There are several species of cinnamon. The most common are Cinnamomum cassia, which is Chinese cinnamon, and Cinnamomum verum, which is known as Ceylon cinnamon. The bark, the twigs, and the buds of these trees have been used in the traditional medicine of China, India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. After the Dutch opened up the spice trade to Southeast Asia, cinnamon was quickly incorporated as a medicine and flavoring agent into Western medicine and it remains just as useful today as it was almost 400 years ago when a pound of cinnamon was almost worth its weight in gold.

Cinnamon is astringent, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, analgesic, carminative, a circulatory stimulant, styptic, and hypoglycemic agent. While this list of uses is impressive, the clinical use of cinnamon is even more can comprehensive. It improves circulation, especially to the hands and feet, and can be used to reduce peripheral neuropathies and Reynaud's Syndrome. In women, it improves pelvic blood flow and has been used for amenorrhea and fibroids. Cinnamon is probably most famous for it's carminative effects in relieving gas, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Recent research has shown that as little as one teaspoon of dried cinnamon in one gallon of unpasteurized apple cider can prevent E. coli infections (food poisoning).

One of my favorite uses for cinnamon is treating cold/damp respiratory tract infections. It combines beautifully with ginger to eliminate excessive mucous as well as bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. This pungent bark also inhibits allergic reactions as well as autoimmune response and can reduce histamine reactions caused by seasonal or environmental allergies. Cinnamon has some paradoxical effects. It improves circulation, but at the same time stops excessive bleeding and even though it has no sugar content, cinnamon when added to teas makes them taste sweet. Recent clinical studies have shown that cinnamon also increases the body's ability to utilize endogenous insulin. Thus, people with metabolic syndrome or non-insulin dependent Diabetes Melitis (NIDDM) can improve their insulin utilization by simply adding cinnamon to their diet. While cinnamon offers significant benefits for diabetics, it is even more effective when combined with other hypoglycemic herbs such as Gymnema, Bitters, and Devil's Club. A formula based on this combination can be a very effective part of a protocol to regulate blood sugar levels, maintain circulatory health, and prevent diabetic neuropathies.

Chaste Tree. Your Questions... Answered

Prevention Magazine February 2004 (p.93) discusses “Herbal Solution for Severe PMS—Chaste Tree rivals meds for symptom relief” and lists Herbalist & Alchemist as a good source. We have had follow-up questions from customers:

Q How long should I use Chaste Tree? All through my cycle or just before?

A Vitex should be taken daily to help normalize the cycle, not only when someone is experiencing symptoms. There are no foods you need to be concerned about in taking Chaste Tree, although some European authorities suggest it not be taken with oral contraceptives.

Q Is it safe? Any side effects?

A The only common side effects of Chaste Tree, and these occur with less than 3% of the people who take Chaste Tree, are digestive upset, a rash, or headache.  In several studies the percentage of side effects were from 2-5% which is consistent with the percentage of side effects you see with placebo.

If you would like to do further research, the American Pharmacopoeia's monograph on Chaste Tree is quite thorough and their website is www.herbal-ahp.org.