Old Egyptian papyri featured different recipes and applications for cinnamon, which are also mentioned in several Biblical passages. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to flavor food and wine, highlighting its stimulant and aphrodisiac properties. And in the Middle Ages, the Venetians and Genoese sailors brought it to the West, where it became very popular.
Cinnamon is the only natural aphrodisiac recognized as such in medicine, as it is known to promote blood flow, especially in the abdominal area. As it improves the blood supply to the male and female genitals, it could facilitate sexual arousal. It is used in preparations and herbal teas, but just inhaling its aroma in a relaxed atmosphere can contribute to combating a decreased sex drive.
The term “aphrodisiac” is derived from the name of the Greek goddess Aphrodite—Venus for the Romans—a deity related to love, beauty, and fertility. Her many powers included the gift of greater pleasure and the power of seduction. It is said that stimulant body massages using cinnamon oil were at the center of the Aphrodite cult. However, the power of cinnamon extended beyond the Mediterranean.
Attributed to Dzohara—the goddess of poetry and love in Arab mythology—there was an ancient and curious ritual of seduction that consisted of wrapping cinnamon sticks in a red silk scarf and adding two or three drops of the person’s favorite perfume. Afterward, the scarf was to be kept under the pillow for three nights. To complete the ritual, it had to be worn around the neck while invoking the goddess Dzohara.
The locals in the High Andes also prepare a hot drink that contains liquor, sugar, and cinnamon to stimulate blood flow and protect themselves from the intense cold. The aphrodisiac home recipe composed of bitter chocolate, clove, cinnamon, and honey is a bit more romantic.
Currently, cinnamon is available in light brown or reddish brown fine powder, and small rolled cinnamon bark from the Cinnamomum Verum, or C. ceylanicum tree, native to southern Asia. It contains significant amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamin A and C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Of the four types of cinnamon, the most widespread in the West are the Ceylon and Cassia.
The latter comes from China; it is reddish brown and is the most used in the United States. Instead, Ceylon cinnamon, also known as “real cinnamon” comes from Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon until 1972) and is light brown in color, with a milder flavor. ■