Cinnamon is one of the world's oldest spices. It was discovered in China in 3,000 BC, before making its way to Europe via Sri Lanka. It can be used in numerous ways: in sweet and savoury foods, as aromatic oil, and for medicinal purposes. It is also known for its health-promoting effects because it helps reduce glucose levels of the blood, promotes a general sense of wellbeing, alleviates stress, triggers an antibacterial and anti-infectious response and boosts circulation. While it plays a special role in the production of mulled wine and biscuits in our parts of the world, the Indians and Vietnamese use it as a way of adding flavour to various meat dishes.
The sweet and spicy aroma of aniseed is unmistakeable, be it as a liqueur, tea or spice. It also relieves coughing, promotes digestion, helps against heartburn and prevents bad breath.
Latin Americans have long been known to chew cloves as a means of relieving toothache. As a body oil, it is superbly suited for preventing muscle cramps through its ability to warm the body and stimulate circulation. Furthermore, the medicinal plant of the year 2010 is known for its ability to relieve stress, nervousness and tension.
Vanilla – considered to be the queen of all spices – was originally found in Mexico and is cultivated in many parts of the world today. It is known to put people in a better mood, counter depression and sleeping disorders and help harmonise the body and soul.
It's hard to imagine any Christmas baking without the slightly bitter aroma of nutmeg – a spice that is also used to combat a range of symptoms. It helps not only against travel sickness and sleeping disorders but is also known for its ability to stimulate the digestive system and strengthen the heart.