Origin, Distribution and Composition
Cinnamon is an evergreen tree which is small and bushy. The dried leaves of
cinnamon, along with its dried inner bark are used all over the world as a
spice or condiment. It has a pleasing fragrance and a warm, sweet and
The bark of the tree is thick, smooth and light or dark brownish in color.
The inner bark is obtained from carefully selected shoots. It is then
cured and dried. While drying, the bark shrinks and curls into a cylinder
Cinnamon tree was known to ancient physicians even before 2700 BC. The
Chinese used the bark of this tree as a medicine. The Romans also knew
about the medicinal value of this bark. Eminent physicians like Galen,
Dioscoredes and Sasaferes described various uses of cinnamon. Indians knew
about the therapeutic uses of this herb before the 8th century. The oldest
record available about the description of cinnamon is in the Torah, the
Jewish religious text. It was, however, Khizvenee who was the first person
to give details about the medicinal virtues of this herb in the 13th
Cinnamon is a native of Sri Lanka and tropical Asia. It has been
cultivated from ancient times. It appears to have reached Egypt and Europe
by the fifth century BC. This tree occurs in South India up to altitudes of
500 meters but is more common at lower altitudes, even below 200 meters.
An analysis of cinnamon shows it to consist of moisture, protein, fat,
fiber, carbohydrates and ash, besides calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium,
potassium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamins C and A. Its calorific
value is 355.
Cinnamon also contains an essential oil known as cinnamon oil. This oil
consists of substantial amount of eugenol. The bark and green leaves also
contain oil. The root bark oil differs from both stem bark and leaf oils.