3 Ways Cinnamon (Cassia) Bark Warms Our Body
This popular condiment/spice has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years.
Cassia bark, or 육계 (内桂), has pungent and sweet flavors and hot thermoenergetics.
This article explains the benefits of the bark from tree trunk, but cinnamon (cassia) branch tips are also used medicinally.
The main difference is that the bark is descending in nature to warm kidneys while the branch tips are ascending to disperse wind-cold.
Cinnamon bark interacts with the kidneys to warm the lower body
To better understand how cinnamon bark benefits our kidneys, it is important to understand how Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM) views the organ.
First, kidneys store Essence (정 精), which is a prenatal, hereditary components from parents (union of Yin-Yang). It is the material basis for kidney’s Yin (substance) and Yang (energy).
Now, the Essence ITSELF can be divided into yin and yang aspects (Did you know Yin and Yang can divide infinitely?).
The Yin of Essence is known as the Heavenly Measurements (천계 天癸) which have a 7-year cycle for women and 8-year cycle for men. Heavenly Measurements are the substances that control sex, birth, growth, puberty, menstruation, reproduction, menopause, aging, and death!
The Yang of Essence is known as Life Gate Fire (명문화 命門火). This fire is the root of the Origin Qi (원기 元氣), which is derived from the Essence.
Life Gate Fire is a source of warmth for all organs and viscera. Compare this to kidney Yang, which provides heat to spleen and intestines for transforming fluids.
Fun fact: Life Gate is located on the midline of the lower back, in the depression below the spinous process of the second lumbar vertebra! In acupuncture, this is part of the Governing (독 督) vessel whose Qi flows along the spine.
In TEAM, cinnamon bark is used to treat disorders characterized by kidney Yang deficiency and Life Gate Fire (LGF) deficiency. The common symptoms are weak, sore, and cold back and knees, impotence, lack of libido, and frequent urination.
Because it is descending in nature, cinnamon bark can lead LGF back to its source, which makes it one of the best herbs to warm the lower body.
Cinnamon bark interacts with the spleen to warm, dispel cold, and relieve pain in the trunk
Cinnamon bark also warms the trunk and treats digestive disorders that are cold in nature. With its analgesic and warming effect, cinnamon bark also treats hernial pain caused by cold.
The essential oils of the bark have a mild stimulating effect to promote digestion, dispel gas, and relieve spasmodic pain in the stomach and intestines. However, it is rarely decocted due to loss of volatile oils.
Cinnamon bark interacts with the heart to open vessels and circulate blood
When cold invades the blood, the vessels constrict. This results in blood stagnation (i.e. irregular menstruation, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, postpartum pain). Cinnamon bark infuses warmth to the peripheral vessels to move Qi and circulate blood by dilating them.
It also treats Yin sores, which are often result of Yang deficiency that has caused stagnation of phlegm. Over a long period of time, this stagnation becomes toxic and obstructs the vessels, tendons, and joints. Cinnamon bark enters both the Qi and blood levels to break open the stagnation and promote the generation of flesh for enhanced recovery.
Cinnamon bark is thermoenergetically hot, which is considered to be pure Yang energy. When used improperly for patients affected by pathogenic/excess heat, or prescribed in excess amounts, it can induce rising of fire, resulting in a flushed face, red eyes, dry mouth and tongue, and even bleeding. Cinnamon bark is used with caution during pregnancy.
Cassia bark is an extremely warm herb that can be beneficial for cold conditions. We highly recommend that you consult with a licensed oriental medicine practitioner if you think this herb fits your needs.