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Cinnamon is a small evergreen tree belonging to the family Lauraceae, native to Sri Lanka, or the spice obtained from the tree's bark. Arab traders brought the spice via overland trade routes to Alexandria in Egypt, where it was bought by Venetian traders from Italy who held a monopoly on the spice trade in Europe. The disruption of this trade by the rise of other Mediterranean powers, such as the Mamluk Sultans and the Ottoman Empire, was one of many factors that led Europeans to search more widely for other routes to Asia. Portuguese traders finally landed in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) at the beginning of the sixteenth century and restructured the traditional production and management of cinnamon by the Sinhalese, who later held the monopoly for cinnamon in Ceylon. The Portuguese established a fort on the island in 1518 and protected their own monopoly for over a hundred years. Cinnamon is harvested by growing the tree for two years and then coppicing it. The next year, about a dozen shoots will form from the roots. These shoots are then stripped of their bark, which is left to dry. Only the thin inner bark is used; the outer woody portion is removed, leaving metre-long cinnamon strips that curl into rolls on drying; each dried quill comprises strips from numerous shoots packed together. These quills are then cut into 5–10 cm lengths for sale. Cinnamon has been reported to have remarkable pharmacological effects in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance. However, the plant material used in the study was mostly from cassia and only few of them are truly from Cinnamomum zeylanicum . Cinnamon has traditionally been used to treat toothache and fight bad breath and its regular use is believed to stave off common cold and aid digestion. Cinnamon is the subject of an internet meme, The Cinnamon Challenge, in which one is to attempt to simply eat a whole tablespoon of cinnamon without vomiting. Despite thousands of video-documented attempts, few seem able to succeed. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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