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PhytoChi TM Ingredient
General Information: Cassia, or Chinese cinnamon, is generally regarded as different from the common Saigon or Ceylon cinnamon on your kitchen shelf, which the food industry prefers for use in food products because of its better flavour. However, pharmaceutical manufacturers use cassia and the other types of cinnamon interchangeably. For the average non technical person, the difference in flavour is too minor to be noticeable.
Cassia is the dried bark of the stem or branches of Cinnamomum cassia J. Presl of the laurel family, a tree that can reach a height of 12 to 17 m. (36-51 ft.). For cassia production the trees are usually cultivated and coppiced (cut back) so that they do not grow too tall for easy harvesting. There are various types of cassia, but the two most common are quills and strips. The former are obtained from young trees (five to six years old); the latter, from old trees. Cassia is produced only in China, where it is called rou gui. Guangxi, Guangdong, and Yunnan are the major producing provinces. A sizable amount goes into the production of cassia oil (Chinese cinnamon oil), which, like regular cinnamon oil, is extensively used in the West for flavouring food and pharmaceutical products.
Cassia contains 1% to 2% volatile oil (cassia oil), which is mainly responsible for the spicy aroma and taste. Like other bark materials, it also contains tannins, sugars, resins, and mucilage, among other constituents. The volatile oil contains many chemicals used in the manufacture of fragrances or flavourings. Cinnamaldehyde, the one present in the highest amount (75%-90%) has been demonstrated in scientific experiments to have sedative and pain-relieving effects on mice.
Both cassia and standard cinnamon have been used for thousands of years in both Eastern and Western cultures in treating chronic diarrhoea, rheumatism, colds, high blood pressure, kidney conditions, and abdominal pain.
Effects on the body: Chinese and Japanese scientists have found that cassia has sedative effects and lowers high blood pressure and fever in experimental animals. The oil has antiseptic properties, killing various types of bacteria and fungi.
Traditional uses: Cassia has been used medicinally in China for several thousand years. Its first recorded use dates back to the Han Dynasty (200 B.D.-A.D. 200), when it was described in the Shennong Herbal under the non toxic category of herbs. It is now considered slightly toxic and to have warming effects. When relatively large amounts (1.3 oz. and over) are ingested, toxic symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, cough, dry thirst, and decreased urine flow. These are considered to be "hot" conditions and generally require cooling herbs such as mung beans or chrysanthemum flowers for their treatment.
Traditionally, Chinese cinnamon is used to treat cold hands and feet, weak pulse, headache, lumbago, aching knees, wheezing, shortness of breath, menstrual pain, amenorrhea (abnormal menstrual periods), and abdominal pain with vomiting. The usual daily dose is 1 to 4.5 g. (0.04-0.16 oz.) taken as a powder or as a decoction or tea.
Cassia oil is used mainly as a carminative (for relieving colic and griping) or as a stomach tonic. The usual daily dose is 0.06 to 0.6 ml. (1-10 drops) taken with water.
Home remedies: Of the many recorded remedies, most use cassia in combination with numerous other herbs. The following are two of the simpler ones.
For treating bellyache and diarrhoea resulting from stomach and intestinal upsets, cassia powder and clove powder are mixed evenly in equal amounts (28 g. or 1 oz. each), and the mixture is taken either internally or applied externally. For internal use, the powder is swallowed with water; the daily dose is 0.6 to 1.6 g. (0.02-0.06 oz.). For external application, a small amount of the powder is spread evenly on an adhesive tape about 6 cm. by 6 cm. (2.5 in. by 2.5 in.) which is then taped over the navel area.
To treat traumatic injuries (e.g., from fist fights, bumps, or falls) resulting in blood congestion and an aching body, about 6 g. (0.2 oz.) of powdered cassia is taken with wine.
Availability: Cassia is sold in health food stores and in Chinese herb shops.