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Cassia CASSIA  
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Cascara Sagrada  |  Cat's Claw

Botanical:   Cinnamomum cassia
Family:   Lauraceae (laurel)
Other common names:  Cassia Bark, Canton Cassia, Bastard Cinnamon, Chinese Cinnamon, Tramboon, Cassia Seed, Canel, Chakunda, Cassia Aromaticum, Rou Gui

Cassia is a warming tonic, similar in action to cinnamon, and acts as an herbal stimulant for the digestive tract that eases nausea, indigestion, vomiting, dyspepsia and flatulence.  It has also been used by both Oriental and Western herbalists to treat diarrhea, excessive menstrual bleeding and uterine hemorrhage.  Important new research indicates that daily consumption may lead to dramatic reductions in blood sugar levels, cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.   The herb can be an effective way to stimulate circulation and may even warm your hands and feet too!

The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

The Cassia tree is an ornamental evergreen that is indigenous to Burma and South China, with other species native to Sri Lanka, Java, Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia, and it has been cultivated in many other tropical climates of the world, including the Americas and West Indies.  The botanical genus, Cinnamomum, produces two different commodities, camphor and cinnamon or Cassia.  The tree grows to approximately twenty-five feet in height (but is kept at about ten feet in cultivation) and bears lance-shaped leaves and small yellow flowers that bloom in early summer.  Cassia grows both wild and cultivated in hot, wet climates in a minimum of fifty-nine degrees Fahrenheit, and thrives in moist, well-drained soil in sun or partial shade. Cassia is one of the oldest spices known to mankind, first recorded in China, as kwei, in 2700 B.C., in the Shen Nong Herbal; and in Egypt, in 1600 B.C.  Cassia's aromatic bark is removed in short lengths when mature and dried for use as a spice and in herbal preparations; and the buds, which resemble cloves, are unripe when dried.  Cassia is similar to Cinnamon (and often sold ground as Cinnamon) but differs in strength (not quite as lively) and appearance (rougher and thicker) and cheaper.  Cinnamon is sweeter and more subtle in flavor, but although Cassia is spicier, in many countries the two are used interchangeably.  Cassia bark is a warm, pungent, sweet, hot herb that reached Europe in classical times with Arabian and Phoenician traders, with the buds becoming well established by the Middle Ages.  It has been suggested that the name, Cassia, was derived from the name of the Khasi people, a tribe from northeast India and Bangladesh, who may have been involved in the ancient Cassia trade.  Both the bark and buds have similar flavors and are currently used throughout the world in curries, baked goods and for meat and main dishes, and Cassia oil is also included in the manufacture of cosmetics.  Cassia is one of ingredients in the original Chinese "Five Spice," and the herb has been used as an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.  Some of the constituents in Cassia include essential oil (composed of cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, pinene), coumarin, benzoic acid, cinnamic acid, salicylic acid, gum, tannic acid, starch and mannitol.

Beneficial Uses:
Cassia includes cinnamaldehyde, a substance that is also in Cinnamon, making its actions as a tonic to strengthen stomach function and stimulate the digestive similar.  It is believed to ease nausea, flatulence, dyspepsia, colic, indigestion, vomiting, gastric debility and spasms.  It is also thought to relieve inflammation of the gastrointestinal mucous membrane and stimulate a poor appetite.

The tannin content in Cassia act as an herbal astringent that has made the herb very effective in both Chinese and Western medicine to control diarrhea.  As an astringent, it has also been used to alleviate uterine hemorrhage and excessive menstrual bleeding.  There are also claims that Cassia decreases milk flow in nursing women.

Cassia is said to stimulate the circulatory system, warming and reducing the feeling of coldness and stimulating peripheral circulation of those who experience cold hands and feet. Cassia is also believed to stimulate energy and pep up low vitality.

Because Cassia has been said to lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure, those actions also help to increase blood circulation and may help to diminish the onset of heart attacks and strokes.  Cassia has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to relieve angina and heart palpitations.

Recent research has indicated that Cassia may increase insulin activity, increasing the breakdown of glucose and improving blood sugar concentrations.  Use of Cassia may dramatically reduce blood sugar levels and triglycerides in Type-2 diabetic patients who do not take insulin.  In a 2010 randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial conducted by Britain’s Imperial College, London, two grams of Cinnamomum cassia, taken daily for twelve weeks was shown to improve blood pressure measures and blood sugar levels in people with Type-2 diabetes. The findings, which were published in Diabetic Medicine, assert that the administered dose was safe and well tolerated over the twelve weeks of treatment and the spice may be considered as a interesting supplement to the conventional diabetes medications.  At the end of the study, the results also indicated that it was associated with a mean decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

As an antiseptic, Cassia controls infections, and because it also increases perspiration, the dual qualities help to relieve fevers, colds and influenza.

Cassia is believed to increase scanty urination, relieve edema (accumulated fluid in tissue that increases swelling) and improve kidney weakness. It is also thought to relieve arthritic and rheumatic conditions.

Pregnant or nursing women should not use Cassia, nor should those who are allergic to Balsam of Tolu.  Diabetics, people who take blood thinners (Coumadin, aspirin, etc.), or women who experience excessive menstrual bleeding should not use Cassia without first consulting their health care providers.

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