Ethnobotanical Leaflets 12: 150-155. 2008.
Ethnobotanical Uses of Cinnamomum
Muthiah Maridass and Bonfilius Victor
Animal Health Research Unit
St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous)
Palayamkottai-627002, Tamil Nadu, India
Issued 8 March 2008
present paper, six Cinnamomum
species are described that are used as spices and medicines by the Kanis community of Karaiyar
words: Kanis, Ethnobotany,
Karaiyar, Cinnamomum species,
Spices are defined by the US Food and Drug Administration as “aromatic vegetable substances, in the whole, broken, or ground form, whose significant function in food is seasoning rather than nutrition. They are true to name, and from them no portion of any volatile oil or other flavoring principle has been removed” (Lampe, 2003). By this definition, onions, garlic, and celery, even in the dried form, and seeds such as poppy and sesame seeds are typically regarded as foods, not spices. Some spices, such as paprika, turmeric, and saffron are used for both coloring and flavor and when used as ingredients in foods are designated as “spice and coloring.” Most spices are derived from bark (eg, cinnamon), fruit (eg, red and black pepper), and seed (eg, nutmeg) (Lampe, 2003).
Cinnamon is one of the most popular
spices used by humankind, as a glance through any cookbook will indicate.
From breakfast rolls to spiced cookies, pudding and pies to quick breads and
chutneys, cinnamon finds its way into recipes for standard family fare as
well as special treats. Cinnamon is the second most important spice (next to
black pepper) sold in
genus Cinnamomum comprises several
hundred species, which occur in
The Kanis live
in the forests of the Thiruvananthapuram district
of Kerala in
Results and Discussion
All the Cinnamomum species have multiple uses, and especially for the treatment of diseases. The treatment of five types of diseases by Cinnamomum species is reported in this paper. Stomach pain, for example, was reported to be alleviated by C. walaiwarense, C. trivancoricum and C. malabatrum. Similarly, a single plant each of C. riparium, C. sulphuratum, C. filipedicellatum and C. wightii was used for treating wounds, fever, intestinal worms, headaches and menstrual problems (Plate 3). Essential oils from Cinnamomum species were isolated and screened for antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities in our laboratory. Future studies will focus on other types of bioassays, as this process is usually considered as the first step in the discovery of new drugs.
We wish to thank the
Department of Science and Technology, SERC- Fast Track Scheme (Sanctioned
The Wealth of
Lampe, J. W. 2003. Spicing up a vegetarian diet: chemopreventive effects of phytochemicals. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,78: 579S–83S.