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References to cinnamon can be found in the Bible and on Egyptian papyri, not to mention in Shennong’s legendary 5000-year-old herbalist. Shennong was a mythical Chinese emperor and hero of Chinese mythology. His name means “Divine Farmer” as, according to tradition, he taught the people to cultivate many plants. He was also the originator of medicine and trade. Popular legend also credits him with the discovery of the art of tea brewing.

In India, liberal use has been made of cinnamon for as long as anyone can remember. The Greeks and Romans began to use it as a spice around the 3rd century. Earlier, it was highly rated as an aphrodisiac and tonic. The Taoists regarded it as the food of the gods. The bark was crushed into a pulp and added as an ingredient to an elixir granting the body a divine golden yellow hue and strength – or yang. Carrying it on one’s person kept illness at bay and probably made it easier to bear the stench that reigned on the streets of large settlements.