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7 Benefits You Need To Know About Cinnamon

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7 Benefits You Need To Know About Cinnamon

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    Cinnamon is one of the most delicious fragrances of the Season!  

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    Although cinnamon is available throughout the year, the aromatic, deliciously sweet and warm taste of the spice make it the perfect spice to use during the fall and winter months. The spice is readily available and used both inside and outside our kitchen. It is such a commonly used spice, we may give little thought to its origin and history.

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    Cinnamon has a spicy history

    Cinnamon has been used for thousands of years!   The ancient Egyptians utilized this spice as a flavoring for beverages,  for medicinal purposes, and as a step in the embalming process.  Its use and popularity became widespread in Egypt, although the Arabs seemed to hold the monopoly on the popular spice.  They kept its origins a secret, creating elaborate tales, and adventurous stories surrounding the acquisition of the spice. This early ‘supply and demand’ allowed them to drive the market with outrageous prices and create a monopoly.

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    The desire to enjoy this luxury good drove explorers to set sail in search of their own stockpile of the exotic spice.  Eventually Portuguese explorers and traders discovered their own cache at Ceylon, or modern day Sri Lanka.  By the time the British took over the country, itwas no longer a rarity and the price no longer exorbitant.

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    There is more than one type of Cinnamon

    The two varieties of commercial  cinnamon, cassia and Ceylon, have similar flavor, however the cinnamon from Ceylon is slightly sweeter, more refined and more difficult to find in local markets. The Ceylon type is more expensive and produced in Sri Lanka.  Cassia is produced in Indonesia and has a stronger aroma and taste.  Cassia cinnamon is what we would typically purchase from the spice aisle of our local grocer.

    Potential Benefits of Cinnamon

    1. Cinnamon may help lower blood pressure Extracts from the bark of the cinnamon tree have been utilized throughout the ages as traditional medicine.  Cassia cinnamon may lower blood pressure in people suffering from diabetes.  More research is needed, but studies show that cinnamon may significantly aid people with type-2 diabetes improve their ability to respond to insulin, thus normalizing their blood sugar levels.  Adding this spice to a carbohydrate-rich food, such as oatmeal or sweet potato, may help lessen its impact on  blood sugar levels.
    2. Cinnamon may have anti-microbial properties. Cinnamaldehyde, a chemical found in the cassia type may help fight against bacterial and fungal infections. Cinnamon’s essential oils also qualify it as an “anti-microbial” food, and cinnamon has been studied for its ability to help stop the growth of bacteria as well as fungi, including the commonly problematic yeast Candida. In laboratory tests, growth of yeasts that were resistant to the commonly used anti-fungal medication fluconazole were often stopped by extracts.
    3. Cinnamon may help lower the effects of consuming high fat meals. According to Penn State researchers, eating a diet rich in spices, like turmeric and cinnamon, reduces the body’s negative responses to eating high-fat meals.
    4. The scent of cinnamon may help boost brain function Just breathing in the sweet aroma of cinnamon can boost brain activity.  Walk down the corridor of any major airport and the delicious and aromatic scent of Cinnabon can entice even the strongest willpower! The wonderfully rich scent of cinnamon can stimulate the mind, uplift the spirit, and create a cozy feeling.
    5. An ancient Chinese secret Traditional Chinese medicine utilized the energy based and warming properties of cinnamon to help with the onset of flu or colds.  A delightful cup of tea was created with cinnamon and ginger to bring much needed relief for the chills brought on by illness.
    6. A natural way to freshen your home The inviting and cleansing scent of cinnamon is thought to have therapeutic effects when used in your home. The spice is a natural air freshener!  But did you know it is also a insect repellent?  It’s true!  A very inexpensive holiday room freshener is to place whole cinnamon sticks in your potpourri.
    7. Natural beauty uses Skip the collagen treatments!  Cinnamon is a natural lip plumper! Simply apply a bit of Vaseline onto your lips and gently pat a tiny amount of cinnamon on top. Rub the mixture on for a few seconds and then allow it to sit for a minute. You should feel a slight tingly sensation from the spice. Add another coat of Vaseline and you’ll have much fuller lips.
    8. A word of caution While cinnamon does not generally cause side effects, heavy usage may irritate the lining of the mouth and lips.  Very high quantities of cassia may be toxic to anyone with liver conditions.  It is always suggested to discuss usage with your physician. Do not use any spice for medicinal purposes in children or women who are pregnant or nursing.

    Featured photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/manuuuuuu/ via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on December 7, 2021

    World’s 15 Weirdest Museums You Must Visit

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    World’s 15 Weirdest Museums You Must Visit

    When we think about culture one of the first things that come to mind are museums – it is ingrained in our collective consciousness that we need to visit a few museums when vacationing abroad, so we can then feel free to indulge in hedonistic pleasures because we’ve bowed at the altar of culture first. However, not all museums are created equal. While some may have your standard collections of classic artwork, statues and pottery fragments, there are a lot of unconventional and even fairly quirky museums around the world. If you like to travel and want to experience something new and truly unique, to be awed, then be sure to visit some of the following museums on your next vacation.

    1. Cancun Underwater Museum

    Let’s start off the list with something entirely different. The Cancun Underwater Museum boasts hundreds of beautiful sculptures such as “The Silent Evolution”, a huge crowd of people, and “Inertia”, a fat man sitting on a couch in front of the TV. These sculptures would evoke powerful emotions regardless of their location; however, being situated underwater gives them an air of mysticism and an almost unnerving calm. The marine flora and fauna has already become one with some of the sculptures, making the whole site look like the sunken remnants of an ancient civilization.

    2. Paris Sewers Museum

    We all admire the grand architecture of famous cities, particularly one as iconic as Paris, the city of romance and art. What people seldom stop to look at is the complex labyrinth that is the Paris sewer system. It is an entire network of tunnels as large as the city itself and it is also a museum that tourists can visit and explored, complete with tour guides. It doesn’t smell as bad as you’d think, so if you ever find yourself in Paris and have about an hour or so of time to kill, this is definitely an interesting option.

    3. Franz Kafka Museum in Prague

    A man with a dark and near dreamlike vision of the modern world, where bureaucracy, alienation, lack of empathy and human suffering are the order of the day, Franz Kafka is rightfully considered one of the greatest modern writers. The Franz Kafka Museum reflects some of the main themes of the authors works, which Kafka himself wanted his friend to burn after his death, and their unique atmosphere. The weirdest thing about it is probably the sculpture of two men urinating in a pool shaped like the borders of the Czech Republic, which are, for some reason, animatronic and can spell out words in the pool based on SMS messages that people send.

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    4. Leila’s Hair Museum in Independence, Missouri

    Art has always been very accommodating, allowing artists to choose from a huge range of different mediums and materials from which to create unique designs. That being said, I doubt you’ve ever considered hair as a valid material for creating works of art. Luckily, Leila’s Hair Museum is here to prove you wrong. With thousands of wreaths and various creative jewelry pieces made out of real human hair, which is said to have been popular in the Victorian period. There are multiple pieces containing hair from famous people, including the likes of Queen Victoria.

    5. Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography in Saint Petersburg

    The Kunstkamera houses Russia’s oldest museum, the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, which has exhibits ranging from interesting to bizarre and morbid. Peter the Great reportedly wanted to dispel myths about monsters and mythical creatures among his people, so there are plenty of deformed skeletons, jars with fetuses and rarities like two-headed animals. Some of the exhibits are not for those with a weak stomach, but they are definitely unique and rare.

    6. Iceland Phallological Museum in Reykjavík

    Iceland is known as “The Land of Ice and Fire”, a small and some would say magical island with a long and proud history. It’s no surprise that it would feature a world renowned museum, but what’s unusual about the Phallological Museum is the fact that it is devoted solely to showcasing penis samples from 93 different animal species – including the 67 inch front tip of a blue whale penis and specimens supposedly belonging to mythical creatures like trolls and elves. It definitely offers a unique experience.

    7. Meguro Parasite Museum in Tokyo

    Many museums feature animal exhibits, showcasing everything from dinosaur bones and large stuffed land mammals to unusual insects, but rarely does a museum focus solely on parasites. The Meguro Parasite Museum takes humanities worst nightmares, lays them before you and provides plenty of information on each and every one. Their motto is “Try to think about parasites without a feeling of fear, and take the time to learn about their wonderful world of the parasites”, and there really is a lot to learn if you can get over the initial feeling of unease.

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    8. The Iga Ninja Museum in Mie

    Western pop culture has been in love with ninja’s since the 80’s and we have only grown fonder of them with time. If you find this topic intriguing or just want to learn more about the whole ninja phenomenon, then the Iga Ninja Museum is the right place for you. You can see the numerous weapons and tools used by these legendary warriors and enjoy a practical display of some of the traditional techniques and tactics. It is a lot of fun and very informative to boot, great for people of all ages.

    9. Bran Castle near Braşov in Transylvania

    The name might not sound familiar at first, but the geographical location kind of gives it away – yes, this is the castle of Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia a.k.a. Vlad the Impaler, a.k.a. Count Dracula from the Bram Stalker novel and world-famous horror character. Bran Castle is the only Transylvanian castle that perfectly fits Stokers description of the world’s most famous vampire’s castle and has thus been dubbed Dracula’s Castle. It has been turned into a museum which every horror fan is welcome to visit and explore.

    10. Malacca Museum of Enduring Beauty

    The nature of beauty is a topic that has troubled mankind for millennia.  Aesthetic preferences and sensibilities have been very different in different regions and at different times, and as fashions changed so too did people try to change themselves to conform to the various ideals of beauty. The Museum of Enduring Beauty showcases the numerous traditions and the jewelry, tools and practices used by peoples the world over to try and make themselves as beautiful as possible. Practices such as foot binding, neck elongation, inserting huge discs into the lips and many others are explained in detail, which gives us an insight into our nature, and perhaps motivates us to see the current standards of beauty for what they really are – an artificially created set of desirable features based on a subjective interpretation of beauty.

    11. The Museum of Human Disease in Sydney

    Doctors spend years and years in medical school for a good reason – there are a lot of diseases that can plague humans. Some of these are more serious than others, but each one is interesting from a scientific standpoint. The Museum of Human Disease catalogs a huge variety of diseases and their effects on the human body, including the most common causes of death. You can participate in dissection workshops or explore some of the large number of vital organs on display. It is a real eye-opener and highly educational, if somewhat morbid and unusual.

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    12. Museum of Medieval Torture Devices in Amsterdam

    There are, of course, some parts of our history that we are not exactly proud of, and this includes wars and atrocities like torture. However, it is interesting to see just how creative people of the past centuries have been when it came to thinking up different ways of inflicting pain to fellow humans. If you’ve got a morbid curiosity for this sort of thing, the Museum of Medieval Torture Devices in Amsterdam has a lot to offer you. There are plenty of weird torture devices, complete with images and even sculptures, depicting the various torture methods that were in use, and the courteous staff is more than happy to answer any questions.

    13. The Skull Tower of Niš

    The Balkans region has had a very turbulent history, particularly in the past few centuries. In the nineteenth century, as Serbians sought to free themselves from their Ottoman oppressors, many battles raged, and one of the most famous was certainly the Battle of Čegar. When the tides of war changed and it became clear that the Turks would win, Serbian commander Stevan Sinđelić sacrificed himself and the remaining Serbian forces in an unprecedented act of bravery, blowing up the gunpowder storage and taking out thousands of enemy soldiers in the process. In order to silence the rebellion and frighten the people, Hurshid Pasha had a ten foot tower built using over 900 skulls of the fallen Serbian soldiers. The original Skull Tower suffered some structural damage over time, and now only 58 skulls remain in the wall, one which is said to belong to Sinđelić himself and is encased in glass. It is a fairly frightening, yet awe inspiring site.

    14. Funeral Carriage Museum in Barcelona

    Funerals are still somewhat of a taboo topic and it’s certainly something you’d mention in polite society. This is really a shame, since there are plenty of wonderful rituals that have been built around escorting the departed on his way to the afterlife. The vehicles used to transport the deceased have always had a somber tone, but where not without a hint of grandeur, as you can witness by exploring the Funeral Carriage Museum in Barcelona.  The exhibit consists of 13 beautiful funeral carriages and six coaches that were used to transport departed citizens to their eternal resting place.

    15. Siriraj Medical Museum in Bangkok

    The word “medical” in the name of this museum has surely tipped you off that you are in for something morbid and unusual. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it has a lot to offer. Also known as “The Museum of Death”, you can see everything from the mummified remains of a serial killer and cannibal to a large variety of human skulls and different preserved body parts. There are plenty of interesting examples of fatal injuries in the Forensic wing of the museum, and there is enough material to keep you occupied for several afternoons, if you aren’t squeamish.

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    It is good to sometimes break from the mold and look for something a bit more thrilling and unusual than rusted bits of ancient swords, broken pottery and pieces of jewelry. These museums may be a bit weird, morbid or even spooky, but they will not disappoint. If you are an adventurous soul, be sure to check them out.

    Featured photo credit: Igor Miske via unsplash.com

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