Cinnamon originates from several species, including Cinnamomum zeylanicum syn Cinnamomum verum in the Family Lauraceae. Sri Lanka old name Ceylon is the largest producer of this cinnamon.
Cinnamomum brumannii, Cinnamomum cassia, and Cinnamomum loureirii, classified as cassias, grow in Indonesia, China, and Vietnam.
Cinnamon and cassia have similar aromatic properties, but they differ in flavor, eugenol content, and look and texture of the bark. Cinnamon is milder, with less eugenol and a thinner, light-colored bark.
Cinnamon is more expensive compared to cassia. Cinnamomum verum yields the most valuable cinnamon, known as true cinnamon. Cinnamon is also produced from the aromatic bark of an unrelated species belonging to a different genus and family, Canella winterana, from the Canellaceae family.
Cinnamon contains the alkaloid coumarin, a fragrant chemical used in cosmetics, colognes, and tobacco. Sri Lankan and Indonesian cinnamons have lower levels of alkaloid. When consumed regularly, coumarin is believed to impact the liver negatively.
Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment issued a warning that a 132-pound adult who regularly eats more than 2 grams (0.07 ounces) of cassia cinnamon daily could suffer harmful side effects. The agency reports no side effects, however, from occasional consumption of cinnamon.
Other European countries have issued formal warnings advising consumers accordingly. The U.S. FDA lists cassia, and Ceylon cinnamon as safe for human consumption, but it does not specify quantities.
Sri Lankan cinnamon is easily ground into a powder, whereas other species’ tough and woody texture can damage the grinder. Once ground, however, it is difficult to distinguish the origin of the cinnamon.

Additional reading:

  1. Holy Herbs: Modern Connections to Ancient Plants
  2. Asian herbs and their wondrous health-giving properties

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