Use Cinnamon As a Digestive Aid

Edited by Christine dela Cruz, Eng, Lynn, Anonymous

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Eating definitely makes life more enjoyable. It is such a pleasurable experience that some people even become so obsessed with it that they cannot control their intake any more. Still, eating the right foods will not cause problems as long as proper digestion occurs. What's even better is that there are various organic products that can be used as a digestive aid, and one of them is cinnamon.

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What is digestion?

Digestion is a mechanical process in the body of breaking down ingested food that leads to further chemical processes so that food becomes absorbed into the blood stream. This entire process is categorized under catabolism, which is the breakdown of larger molecules of food into smaller ones, so that is easily penetrates the body.

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Digestion actually occurs in two ways:

  1. 1
    Internal digestion.
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    This is the type of digestion that occurs in humans and animals. The entire process of digestion normally occurs within a tube, which is more efficient in capturing broken down food and having it react with enzymes in the digestive tract.
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  2. 2
    External digestion.
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    This is undergone by more primitive forms of life, such as fungi. Enzymes are secreted into the surrounding environment of the organism and that's where chemical reactions occur. The byproducts of this process diffuse back into the organism.
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Parts of the digestive system

  1. 1
    Mouth.
    Christinedelacruz Digestive Tract.jpg
    This is where the digestive system begins.
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  2. 2
    Esophagus.
    This is a long tube that connects the mouth and the stomach. Its walls contract and create the peristaltic movement.
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  3. 3
    Stomach.
    This is a big, sac-like organ that breaks down food with the help of all of its acidic components.
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  4. 4
    Small intestine.
    This part of the digestive tract begins with the duodenum and then jejunum and ileum. This is where bile and other enzymes work together to finalize the digestion of food.
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  5. 5
    Large intestine.
    This is the last part of the digestive tract, where water and other electrolytes are removed from food and are expelled later on from the body.
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Process of digestion

  1. 1
    Mastication.
    This is the first step in digestion. It is in fact just a mechanical form of digestion, but is assisted further through the contact of food with saliva. Saliva is a dense liquid produced by the salivary glands that contains an enzyme called salivary amylase. Salivary amylase is the main chemical that begins the process of digesting starch contained in food.
    Christinedelacruz Mastication.jpg
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  2. 2
    Bolus formation.
    After mastication, food then becomes in a small and slurry form, which is called bolus. Food in this form travels easily through the digestive tract to undergo further processes.
    Christinedelacruz Bolus Formation.jpg
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  3. 3
    Movement through peristalsis.
    The bolus will then move down through the esophagus and then into the stomach through peristalsis. Peristalsis is the squeezing movement or contraction of the muscles in the esophagus and stomach that helps in pushing the food downward.
    Christinedelacruz Esophagus Peristalsis.jpg
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  4. 4
    Protein digestion.
    As soon as the food reaches the stomach, the gastric juices in the stomach starts what is called protein digestion. Hydrochloric acid and pepsin are the main components of the gastric juice and because these are rather acidic and may damage the wall of the stomach, mucus forms part of the liquid in the stomach. Mucus is like a shield that ensures the chemicals contained would only create the desired effects on the food and not damage the inner part of the stomach. Hydrochloric acid and pepsin work together in digesting protein and this is further assisted by peristaltic movement of the stomach walls. Aside from digesting protein, this entire process also allows for the food to combine with the other digestive enzymes.
    Christinedelacruz Protein.jpg
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  5. 5
    Chyme formation.
    After about one or two hours, a liquid called chyme is produced. This is the thick liquid that results from the digestion of protein and mixing of food and enzymes through peristalsis.
    Christinedelacruz Chyme.jpg
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  6. 6
    Entry into the duodenum.
    The pyloric spinchter valve opens and brings chyme into the duodenum, where it combines with more digestive enzymes coming from the pancreas.
    Christinedelacruz Duodenum.jpg
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  7. 7
    Full digestion in the small intestine.
    Digestion further continues as soon as chyme goes through the small intestine. This is where chyme becomes fully digested and then absorbed into the blood stream. Nutrients are absorbed by the body when the digestion process is already in the small intestine. About 95 percent of nutrient absorption happens here.
    Christinedelacruz Small Intestine.jpg
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  8. 8
    Reabsorption of water and minerals in the colon.
    In the colon, both water and minerals are reabsorbed in the blood. In here, the pH level is more on the acidic side (5.6 – 6.9), which is ideal to allow this process to occur. Also, other vitamins produced by certain types of bacteria in the colon are reabsorbed in this process.
    Christinedelacruz Large Intestine.jpg
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  9. 9
    Defecation.
    This is the elimination of all waste materials reabsorbed back into the blood in the colon.
    Christinedelacruz Defecation.jpg
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Steps toward better digestion

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  1. 1
    Plan every meal in a way that different dishes combine well.
    Make sure the components of each dish do not contradict the components of another. For example, too much milk does not go well with very acidic food.
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  2. 2
    Opt for food which is cooked instead of raw and cold food.
    The burning process in cooking helps in better breakdown of food.
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  3. 3
    Do not be in too much of a rush when eating, and chew food well.
    Ideally, food ingested must be chewed at least 30 times before swallowing. This kind of pace allows the salivary enzymes to work well first in digesting food.
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  4. 4
    Eat while the mind is at peace.
    Avoid thinking of stressful things and situations while eating. This allows the body to produce the necessary enzymes properly and these will assist in better digestion.
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  5. 5
    Drink hot beverages while eating and in between meals.
    Hot water is very well known to be effective in getting rid of toxins in the body as well as building the strength of the digestive system.
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  6. 6
    Avoid eating more than what you can digest.
    The feeling of being full is a good indication that your digestive system has enough to process already. Do not force further food down if you have this feeling already. Too much of anything is harmful.
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  7. 7
    Relax after eating.
    Do not engage in heavy physical activities directly after eating Let your body stand still for a while to allow the food to glide downwards more smoothly. A little bit of walking, however, can help in better digestion.
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Common digestion-related problems

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  1. 1
    Reflux or heartburn.
    This is usually characterized by a burning feeling from the middle part of the abdomen to lower chest. In most cases, a sour taste inside the mouth is felt at the same time. When this happens during night time, it is not uncommon to find fluid or food particles inside the mouth, which have move upwards from the gut.
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  2. 2
    Peptic ulcers.
    This is usually characterized by harsh stomach pains. This is caused by not having too much mucus in the stomach that protects the walls from absorbing too much of the acid inside the stomach.
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  3. 3
    Lactose intolerance.
    This is caused by the lack of appropriate enzymes that are able to digest the sugar contained in milk.
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  4. 4
    Inflammatory bowel disease.
    There are two most common types of inflammatory bowel diseases, which are normally characterized by abdominal pain, diarrhea, bleeding in the rectum, weight loss, and many others. They are:  
    1. Crohn's disease
    2. Ulcerative colitis
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  5. 5
    Celiac disease.
    This is a type of digestive disorder that is autoimmune. People affected by this normally would not be able to take in gluten, which is a kind of protein found in wheat, barley, and other similar types of produce. This attacks the small intestine and causes intensive abdominal pain, vomiting, chronic diarrhea or constipation, and very smelly stool.
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  6. 6
    Constipation.
    This is when bowels are unable to move smoothly and is primarily caused by insufficient fiber in food, as well as insufficient water.
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Causes of poor digestive health

  1. 1
    Age-related reduction in the amount of digestive enzymes produced.
    When the body has less of these digestive enzymes than normal, it won't be able to absorb as many essential nutrients as normal.
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  2. 2
    Imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
    This normally leads to the feeling of bloating and food is not broken down well enough to have the nutrients absorbed properly.
    Christinedelacruz Good and Bad Bacteria.jpg
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  3. 3
    Stress.
    Too much stress affects the normal functioning of all parts of the body, including the contraction of muscles or so-called peristalsis.
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  4. 4
    Insufficient water intake.
    Water facilitates many of the digestive processes. When water intake is not enough, these processes will be significantly impaired.
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  5. 5
    Insufficient fiber intake.
    Fiber aids in the transportation of food through the digestive tract.
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Symptoms of indigestion

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  1. 1
    Feeling full early in the meal.
    You have not eaten much yet but you have this sensation of being full already. This leads to not being able to finish a meal.
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  2. 2
    Uneasy feeling in the upper abdomen.
    This could be a mild or sharp pain in this area.
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  3. 3
    Burning sensation in the upper abdomen.
    This could be a feeling of heat or a tingling sensation.
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  4. 4
    Bloating.
    This is a feeling of tightness around the abdomen area.
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  5. 5
    Nausea.
    You have the urge to vomit out the food that you have just eaten.
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Characteristics of cinnamon that help in digestion

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  1. 1
    Cinnamon has a warming and calming effect on the digestive system, which is very beneficial during cases of diarrhea, nausea, indigestion, and colic.
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  2. 2
    Cinnamon has a soothing effect, particularly to the stomach.
    Cinnamon is considered a carminative, which helps in breaking the gas from the intestines that leads to resolution of diarrhea and even morning sickness.
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  3. 3
    Cinnamon aids in the proper metabolism of sugar.
    This helps in the overall breakdown and absorption of nutrients from foods that contain a good amount of sugar.
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  4. 4
    Cinnamon has compounds called catechins, which are proven to be helpful in relieving nausea.
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  5. 5
    Cinnamon, particularly the cinnamon bark, contains volatile oils that help to break down fats during the entire digestion process.
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  6. 6
    Cinnamon is rich in fiber, which aids in better transportation of food through the digestive tract.
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How to use cinnamon as a digestive aid

  1. 1
    Select fresh cinnamon.
     
    1. Smell it every time before you buy cinnamon. The sweet taste would be the best indication whether it is still fresh. If the smell is already weak, choose something else because it's not fresh anymore.
    2. Cinnamon sticks usually lasts longer than cinnamon powder. If you think you will be storing cinnamon for quite some time, you might as well go for cinnamon sticks instead.
      Christinedelacruz Fresh Cinnamon.jpg
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  2. 2
    Store properly.
     
    1. Do not expose cinnamon to very humid conditions.
    2. Store in a tightly-sealed container.
    3. Store in a cool and dark place. Cupboards would be ideal. Storing inside the refrigerator is another option.
      Christinedelacruz Sealed Container.jpg
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  3. 3
    Combine to your daily diet.
    Take advantage of as much opportunity as possible to add cinnamon to your meals.  
    1. Cinnamon may also be taken plainly, although it may not taste as great as when you mix it with food.
    2. Cinnamon goes very well with hot drinks, particularly those which are combined with honey or tea.
    3. Cinnamon adds a unique flavor to various types of soups. Sprinkle on almost any type of soup and cinnamon will complement the existing flavors very well.
    4. Cinnamon may be added to many types of dishes. If you want some irony in your cooking, a dash of cinnamon can create so much difference in the taste.
    5. Cinnamon is not degraded by cooking, so it can also be added to baked products like pastries, cakes, cookies, and the like.
      Christinedelacruz Cinnamon Meals.jpg
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Cinnamon dishes

  1. 1
    Island curry chicken with vegetables
     
    1. Ingredients  
      1. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
      2. salt and black pepper to taste
      3. 1 medium onion, preferably yellow or white, chopped
      4. 2 garlic gloves, minced
      5. 1 small ginger root, peeled and sliced thinly
      6. 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
      7. 2 pieces of carrots, sliced thinly
      8. 4 small pieces of red-skinned potatoes, cut each into 8 portions
      9. 1 short cinnamon stick (2 inches)
      10. ½ lemon, juice extracted
      11. 2 teaspoons curry powder
      12. 1 can chicken broth, preferably fat-free and low in sodium
      13. 1 pack frozen lima beans
      14. 1.5 kilo of chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, cut into smaller pieces
    2. Procedure  
      1. Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick pan.
      2. as soon as the oil is hot, gradually place over it the small pieces of chicken. It's best to do it in batches so that it won't crowd and you can avoid raw insides of the chicken.
      3. Season the cooked chicken with salt and pepper.
      4. Remove all remaining oil in the pan and use it thereafter to mince the garlic, onions, and ginger until the onions have become translucent.
      5. Add in the broth and mix further with curry powder, cinnamon, red pepper flakes and a dash of salt.
      6. Dip back the cooked chicken into the mixture of broth. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
      7. Add in the vegetables (lima beans, potatoes, and carrots) plus the lemon juice. Simmer further for another 20 minutes.
      8. Serve over rice, preferably basmati rice.
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  2. 2
    Pork tenderloin with cinnamon
     
    1. Ingredients  
      1. 2 tablespoons soy sauce, preferable low sodium
        Christinedelacruz Pork Tenderloin.jpg
      2. 2 tablespoons sugar
      3. ¼ teaspoon salt
      4. 1 teaspoon dry mustard
      5. ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
      6. ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
      7. 1 tablespoon dry sherry
      8. 1 teaspoon lemon juice
      9. 1 pound pork tenderloin (can be cut in smaller pieces if preferred)
    2. procedure  
      1. Preheat over to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
      2. In a roasting pan, marinade the pork tenderloin with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, salt, ginger, mustard, cinnamon, sherry, and lemon juice.
      3. Bake for 60 minutes.
      4. Slice according to preference and include the pan juices in the serving.
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Cinnamon drinks

  1. 1
    Cinnamon and ginger tea
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    1. Take a few thin slices of ginger. Five to seven slices would do.
    2. Drop the ginger slices into boiling water and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
    3. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon and stir thoroughly.
    4. Add a bit of honey if you prefer sweeter taste, but overall, the cinnamon and ginger alone should be enough.
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  2. 2
    Spiced cider drink with cinnamon
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    1. Prepare 3/4 glass of apple cider drink. Hot or lukewarm is OK.
    2. Dip five to seven cinnamon sticks for 30 minutes.
    3. Drink and enjoy especially during winter.
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  3. 3
    Hot apple cider with butter, cinnamon, and rum
    Christinedelacruz Hot Apple Cider with Butter Cinnamon and Rum.jpg
     
    1. Combine butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl. It is best to use a plastic spatula to do this.
    2. Transfer the mixture to a 12" X 12" plastic sheet. Fold over the mixture and create a tubular log shape. Twist the sides to seal it off, then refrigerate.
    3. Heat the apple cider in a pot over medium heat for about 10 minutes, then slowly turn the heat to low after that.
    4. Cut the cinnamon and butter mixture from the refrigerator into thin slices. Drop them one by one into the apple cider pot and stir until everything has melted.
    5. Transfer to different mugs and add a shot of rum or brandy. Dip a cinnamon stick or two for further flavor.
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  4. 4
    Wassail punch
    Christinedelacruz Wassail Punch.jpg
     
    1. Combine equal parts of apple cider, lemon juice, and orange juice and put it over low heat.
    2. Add a teaspoon or two of cinnamon depending on the amount of the mixture.
    3. Add a pinch or two of nutmeg and ginger powder.
    4. Simmer until it's time to serve. It is best served when it's hot and you can dip one to two cinnamon sticks in it.
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  5. 5
    Cinnamon smoothie
    Christinedelacruz Cinnamon Smoothie.jpg
     
    1. Prepare one cup of unsweetened and unflavored coconut water.
    2. Puree a piece of banana in the blender.
    3. Add the entire cup of coconut water into the banana puree.
    4. Add a teaspoon of flaxseed oil.
    5. Sprinkle over a half teaspoon of powdered cinnamon.
    6. Put in 2 tablespoons of almond butter and run the blender again for about 2 minutes.
    7. Add in milk desired, but it's already nice without it.
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  6. 6
    Horchata
    Christinedelacruz Horchata.jpg
     
    1. Put in the blender about 2/3 cup of white uncooked rice and lather it with 3 cups of warm water.
    2. Blend until you cannot feel the grit of the rice anymore.
    3. Transfer the mixture to another bowl and pour some more warm water over it.
    4. Dip one cinnamon stick.
    5. Cover and put in the refrigerator for at least eight hours. It's even better if you can leave it overnight.
    6. After at least eight hours, remove the cinnamon stick and run the mixture in the blender again. Keep running it until the entire mixture is very smooth.
    7. Strain the mixture into a very fine strainer. It's even better to use cheesecloth instead. Squeeze as much as you can in order to extract most of the rice flavor.
    8. Add in milk. You can use normal milk, but using rice milk would complement the taste very well.
    9. Add in sugar or honey then refrigerate.
    10. Sprinkle over ground cinnamon on top for added flavor.
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  7. 7
    Cinnamon eggnog smoothie
    Christinedelacruz Cinnamon Eggnog Smoothie.jpg
     
    1. Simmer 1 cup of full cream over low heat.
    2. Pour the warm cream over a cup of unsweetened chocolate and stir until the entire mixture has blended well.
    3. In a separate bowl, whisk the whites of eight eggs for about 30 seconds. Continue whisking until the entire mixture is similar to shaving cream.
    4. While whisking, add about half-part sugar and continue until they have combined well.
    5. Set aside for a while.
    6. In another separate bowl, mix the egg yolks, the remaining half-part of the sugar, and half-teaspoon of cinnamon. Place it in a mixer and run it until the entire mixture is pale yellow in color.
    7. Add into the egg yolk mixture, the mixture of warm cream and chocolate. Mix until totally combined.
    8. Finally, add in the egg white mixture.
    9. Serve in separate goblets and garnish each with a cinnamon stick.
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Tips and Warnings

  • If digestive problems persist, consult your doctor to determine if more serious conditions are present.
  • A visit to the nutritionist from time to time would be good in promoting long-term digestive health. Nutritionists would know if certain digestive aids, such as probiotics, are necessary.
  • Judging a dish or a drink as healthy just because it has cinnamon in it is not right. The overall composition of a dish would dictate whether it is healthy or not. For example, you may be using a lot of cinnamon in a dish, but if a lot of pork fat is also included, then it could still lead to digestive problems.
  • To avoid getting tired of the taste of cinnamon, be experimental in mixing it with other types of spices. For example, adding cinnamon to various types of Mexican or Middle Eastern spices will end up tasting rather different as compared to when you add cinnamon to light-tasting spices like salt or vinegar.
  • If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Article Info

Categories : Cinnamon Usage & Benefits

Recent edits by: Lynn, Eng, Christine dela Cruz

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