Cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree, and cinnamon sticks are actually pieces of that bark. The tree grows from 20 to 30 feet high and it has a thick, scabrous bark with strong branches. As early as 2700 B.C., this spice was mentioned by ancient Chinese herbalists. It was an ingredient in the embalming mixtures of ancient Egypt, and the Bible says that Moses used it as a holy anointing oil. After the fall of the Roman empire, when trade between Europe and Asia became difficult, Cinnamon was extremely prized. It found its way west, and by the twelfth century, German herbalists recommended cinnamon as the "universal spice for sinuses." They recommended it be used to treat colds, flu, cancer, and many other internal ailments. The word cinnamon can refer to the "origional" cinnamon, Cinnarmomum zeylanicum of Ceylon, or the product of the Cassia tree, which is usually regarded as a substitute for Cinnarmomum zeylanicum of Ceylon because it VERY closely resembles the Ceylon. It possesses much the same qualities and constituents, but it is inferior. It is also much cheaper and more abundant than the Ceylon variety, hence the reason for its popularity. As a matter of fact, it is now the only official oil of cinnamon in the United States and German Pharmacopoeias. Cinnamon has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and now modern science has confirmed its value as an anti-infective and digestive aide. Cinnamon possesses antiseptic qualities which kill many disease causing viruses and fungi. It is no accident that cinnamon is frequently used in toothpaste. Besides tasting good, cinnamon is known to kill the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. According to some overseas studies, cinnamon suppresses the cause of most urinary tract infections and kills the fungus responsible for vaginal yeast infections. They also report that it helps to prevent stomach ulcers. Cinnamon, like many culinary spices, is known to soothes the stomach. According to the US department of agriculture (USDA), it also appears that cinnamon helps diabetics metabolize sugar by reducing the amount of insulin necessary for glucose metabolism. As little as "one eighth of a teaspoon of cinnamon triples insulin efficiency," per Dr. James Duke, author of The CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. In its powdered form, culinary amounts of cinnamon are nontoxic, although allergic reactions are possible. Cinnamon oil, however, is a completely different story. If someone were to swallow it, they would likely experience nausea and vomiting, and quite possibly kidney damage. While some herbalists taught cinnamon oil as a skin conditioner and anti-inflammatory agent, others maintain that it doesn't provide any dermal benefits. No matter your stance on this issue, everyone agrees that cinnamon oil is a known dermal (skin) toxin, irritant, and sensitizer. It is also known to irritate mucous membranes. Since it may cause redness and burning on the skin, if you make a product containing the oil, be sure to highly dilute it. If you are using someone else's product that has cinnamon oil as an ingredient, including soaps and lip balms, remember that you really don't know how concentrated they left the cinnamon. Do not take make the mistake of assuming, perform a patch test to make sure that the product will not negatively impact your skin. You can enjoy cinnamon in foods, simply seasoned to taste, or you can brew a tea and drink it. To make a tea, use 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of the powdered herb per cup of boiling water. Steep the powder for ten to twenty minutes. You may drink up to three cups per day. Whatever you do, NEVER use the essential oil internally.