Cinnamon Oil is derived from a tree that is recognized by two botanical names – Cinnamomum zeylanicum and Cinnamomum vervun – both of which refer to the same tree. This is the species considered to be true Cinnamon. The English name for this spice is rooted in the term “amomon,” or “qinnamon,” the Arabic and Hebraic word for “fragrant spice plant.” Harvested and processed as both a spice and essential oil, it is cultivated and exported globally. Cinnamon was also given the Early Modern English names of “canel” and “canella,” which were rooted in the Latin word for “tube,” due to the inner bark’s tendency to naturally form a tube shape as it dries and retracts into itself. Cinnamon Essential Oil may be obtained from either the tree’s outer bark or its leaves, hence the two main varieties are Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil and Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil.
Cinnamon is thought to be one of the world’s oldest and most valuable spices. Since the time of Ancient Egyptians and for thousands of years afterward, it has continued to be used, even becoming a staple in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Today, it continues to be used in the forms of spices, herbs, powders, and teas to address emotional and physical ailments, such as depression, respiratory and digestive problems, colds, flu, weight gain, diarrhea, yeast infections, heavy menstruation, menstrual cramps, arthritis, and skin infections. According to a 7th century BCE Greek poem, it was believed that Cinnamon grew in Arabia, along with Myrrh, Labdanum, and incense, and that these plants were so respected that they were shielded by winged snakes.
Throughout history, Cinnamon has demonstrated a diverse range of uses in culinary applications, having been used as a spice and flavor additive in mulled wines, hot beverages, bread, snack foods, cereals, savory entrées, and desserts. As a whole, the plant has come to symbolize and attract good fortune, such as wealth. It has been associated with protection, as 15th-century grave robbers were known to use Cinnamon in their oil blends that were meant to protect them against the plague. Cinnamon Oil was also used as a sedative during birth.
In Ancient Egypt, Cinnamon was imported as early as 2000 BCE. At the time, an individual in possession of Cinnamon was considered to be wealthy, as historical records indicate that Cinnamon’s value might have been considered equivalent to or higher than that of gold. In Egyptian society, Cinnamon was preferable for use in embalming, in witchcraft practices as an ingredient in love potions, and it was deemed valuable enough to offer as a gift to monarchs and gods. It was often used as an ingredient in Kyphi, an incense that was burned for both religious and medicinal purposes.
In the Middle Ages, Europeans also viewed Cinnamon as a symbol of high ranking social status, due to the fact that only the wealthy class was able to afford this transoceanic spice imported from the East and reputed to have remedial qualities that made it ideal for treating indigestion and other such discomforts. Additionally, Cinnamon was essential for use in concealing or eliminating the unpleasant odor of cured meats, especially when they began to spoil. According to an account given by Pliny the Elder, a Roman pound of Cinnamon could potentially cost the same as the wage earned after fifty months of labor. Due to its high price, Cinnamon was not commonly burnt on funeral pyres in Rome, but when it was, it was meant to mask the unpleasant smell of burning flesh. In spite of this, it is believed that, at his wife’s funeral in AD 65, Emperor Nero burned a year’s worth of the city’s stock of Cinnamon.
Although some of these applications of Cinnamon Essential Oil exist today, there are several other natural applications that will be highlighted in this article.
BENEFITS OF CINNAMON OIL
The main chemical constituents of Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil and Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oils, albeit in varying amounts, are Cinnamaldehyde, Cinnamyl Acetate, Eugenol, and Eugenol Acetate.
CINNAMALDEHYDE is known to:
- Be responsible for Cinnamon’s characteristic warming and comforting scent
- Exhibit anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial properties
CINNAMYL ACETATE is known to:
- Be a fragrance agent
- Have the sweet, peppery, balsamic, spicy, and floral scent that is characteristic of Cinnamon
- Be commonly used as a fixative in manufactured perfumes
- Repel and prevent insect infestations
- Enhance circulation, thereby allowing the body and hair to receive the required amounts of oxygen, vitamins, and minerals to sustain the health of each
EUGENOL is known to:
- Soothe ulcers and related pain
- Address gastric pain
- Reduce the chances of developing sores
- Exhibit anti-septic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties
- Eliminate bacteria
- Prevent the growth of many fungi
EUGENOL ACETATE is known to:
- Exhibit anti-oxidant properties
- Have a sweet, fruity, balsamic scent that is reminiscent of Cloves
Used in aromatherapy applications, Cinnamon Essential Oil is known to diminish the feelings of depression, faintness, and exhaustion. It is reputed to relax the body enough to stimulate the libido, making it an effective natural aphrodisiac. Its anti-rheumatic qualities address joint and muscle pain, and it is known to be advantageous for strengthening immunity and thereby reducing the symptoms of colds and the flu. Its ability to enhance circulation helps reduce the pain associated with headaches and makes it beneficial for enhancing the function of the digestive system. When diffused throughout the home or other indoor environments, its scent freshens and deodorizes while emitting its characteristic warm, uplifting, and relaxing fragrance that is known to have a therapeutic grounding and soothing effect. Furthermore, Cinnamon is known to have calming and tonic effects on the mind that are reputed to result in an improved cognitive function. Its ability to reduce nervous tension helps advance information retention, extends the attention span, enhances the memory and reduces the risk of memory loss.
Used cosmetically or topically in general, Cinnamon Essential Oil is reputed to calm dry skin and to effectively alleviate aches, pains, and stiffness experienced in the muscles and joints and in the digestive system. Its antibacterial properties make it ideal for use in addressing acne, rashes, and infections. Its anti-oxidant properties help to slow the look of aging.
Used medicinally, Cinnamon Essential Oil is reputed to effectively reduce inflammation, eliminate viruses, and boost immunity. Its ability to enhance circulation facilitates pain relief while improving the function of the metabolism. When applied to cuts, it is known to exhibit coagulant properties that help stem the flow of blood from cuts, thereby assisting the healing process. Cinnamon Oil is known to benefit the respiratory system by reducing the symptoms of colds and the flu, such as a sore throat, nasal congestion, and headaches. Its carminative properties make it ideal for use in alleviating digestive discomforts such as gas.
Cinnamon Essential Oil is reputed to have many therapeutic properties. The following highlights its many benefits and the kinds of activity it is believed to show:
- COSMETIC: Cleansing, Astringent, Stimulant, Antioxidant.
- ODOROUS: Aphrodisiac, Stimulant, Anti-depressant, Expectorant, Immunostimulant, Warming, Stimulating, Energizing, Metabolism-Boosting.
- MEDICINAL: Anti-parasitic, Analgesic, Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-viral, Immune-Boosting, Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti-microbial, Astringent, Anti-septic, Anti-spasmodic, Carminative, Emmenagogue, Stomachic, Tonic, Vermifuge, Anti-Rheumatic, Detoxifying, Immunostimulant, Antioxidant.
CULTIVATING AND HARVESTING QUALITY CINNAMON OIL
Cinnamomum zeylanicum – also known as “True” Cinnamon – originates in Sri Lanka and is the Cinnamon variety considered to be of the highest quality. Also cultivated in Brazil, the Caribbean, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Indonesia, the Cinnamomum zeylanicum tree thrives in tropical regions with heavy rainfall and temperatures between 27-30°C (80°-86°F). Sometimes reaching a height of up to 45 feet if allowed to grow freely, this Cinnamon botanical is characterized by its glossy, leathery, oval-shaped leaves, its thick, rust-colored bark that rolls itself into tubes when dried, and for its small, white flowers, all of which are deeply aromatic. The tree is also known to grow deep purple berry fruits.
Cinnamon can be cultivated on a range of soils, ranging from fine silver sand to loam to gravelly soils. The highest grade of Cinnamon, however, is grown in sandy white soils that are rich in silica. To flourish, Cinnamon trees need the soil to be highly acidic with a pH level between 4.5 to 5.5 and adequate draining, as their roots will rot if kept in the extremely wetland. Conversely, it cannot withstand prolonged dry periods either.
Cinnamon may be propagated by planting either cuttings from young shoots or seeds, the latter being the most common method. For optimal growth, the most promising seeds will be from a pest- and disease-resistant plant that has an erect stem with a smooth bark that can be easily peeled. This kind of plant generally has vigorous growth and yields a high amount of oil. Ripe seeds are derived from berries that are amassed and kept in a shaded area for 2-4 days, after which time the fruit pulp typically turns black and comes apart. Next, the seeds inside are removed, washed, and dried, once again in the shade. 7-10 days after they are collected, the seeds can be planted, ideally in an area with full exposure to the sun.
The Cinnamon botanical is typically considered to be mature and ready for harvest 2-3 years after being planted, around which time the bark will be brown, the leaves will be hard, and the overall height of the tree will be approximately 1.5-2.0 m (5.0-6.5 feet). The harvest months for Cinnamon are usually between May-August and in November, but this depends on the rainfall and soil fertility; the prime time to harvest Cinnamon bark is during a rainy season when it can be easily peeled off; however, this is usually not done while the soil is drenched with water.
Cinnamon may sometimes be harvested twice or thrice a year by cutting the stems at the level of the soil. During the following year, new shoots sprout to replace the roots that were cut; accordingly, after the first cutting, approximately 5-6 shoots or branches can be harvested every second year. By cutting the shoots down to the ground, this promotes the growth of more side shoots, and thus increases the yield, making for easier harvesting.
After the shoots are cut, the outer bark is stripped and discarded. While it is still wet, the inner bark is peeled off in meter-long strips, which are then laid out to dry in warm sunlight with proper ventilation. The bark takes between 4 and 6 hours to dry thoroughly, during which time they naturally roll themselves up into “tubes” or “pipes” and become Quills, which are the curled stick formations that most commonly characterize the Cinnamon spice. To prevent their shapes from becoming distorted, the quills are dried either mechanically or naturally, either in the shade or in subdued sunlight. Cinnamon leaves, on the other hand, are clipped off from the trees when their color turns dark green. Afterward, they are dried over a period of several days.
The quills are cut down to shorter lengths that are sorted based on their uses and characteristics. Pieces of inner bark scraped from small twigs and stalks are called Quillings. This name is also given to fragmented pieces of all types of Cinnamon quills. Pieces of inner bark made up of shavings and small left-over bark are called Featherings. Rough Cinnamon cuttings that are comprised of both the outer and the inner bark, due to their inability to separate from each other, are called Chips.
HOW IS CINNAMON OIL EXTRACTED?
Cinnamon Leaf Oil and Cinnamon Bark Oil are both derived from the steam distillation of each of these respective parts. Before extracting the oil from the bark, Cinnamon sticks are mashed or broken into small pieces and placed inside the distillation flask, which is connected to the steam generator and to a condenser, where oil condenses. From there, it passes through a separator where it is collected.
Although they share similarities, their benefits are diverse and they are thus best suited to different applications. The extract from the bark is reputed to have a robust and perfume-like aroma that is reminiscent of ground Cinnamon’s aroma. Its color generally ranges in color from a clear yellow to a deep reddish-brown that is characteristic of the spice itself. This variety is believed to be the more potent of the two. Conversely, the extract from the leaves is known to have an aroma that is spicy and musky. It is generally lighter in color and often appears to be a brownish-yellow.
CINNAMON OIL USES
The uses for Cinnamon Essential Oil are abundant, ranging from medicinal and odorous to cosmetic. Its many forms include massage oils and gels, face creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, hair oils, room sprays, perfumes, and candles.
Used in aromatherapy applications, Cinnamon’s scent can be diffused to address lethargy, irritability, unhealthy cravings, and a tendency to overindulge when eating, as it is reputed to facilitate the sensation of being full. Furthermore, it is known to relieve symptoms of colds, severe coughs, and sneezing. For an invigorating Cinnamon Oil blend that boosts immunity, eases congestion, and relieves stress, diffuse a blend of 1 drop Cinnamon Essential Oil (Bark or Leaf), 1 drop Rosemary Essential Oil, 1 drop Eucalyptus Essential Oil, 1 drop Clove Essential Oil, and 1 drop Orange Essential Oil. Alternatively, Cinnamon Oil may be combined with Tea Tree or Lemon essential oils for a blend that boosts the mood and energy levels.
Used in cosmetic applications, Cinnamon Oil is known to effectively soothe dry skin. For a Cinnamon formulation that functions as a therapeutic and rejuvenating moisturizer, mix 1 drop of Cinnamon Oil into regular face cream and massage a small amount of the mixture into the skin at night before bedtime. If the cream is not fast-absorbing, continue massaging it into the skin until it is completely absorbed. Excess cream can be wiped off with a cotton pad. This regimen can be continued nightly to diminish the appearance of aging.
For a Cinnamon shampoo that is reputed to stimulate hair growth and to address dandruff, thinning hair, and hair fall, combine 5-6 drops of Cinnamon Essential Oil with 5 Tbsp. Olive Carrier Oil and massage this blend into the scalp. Allow it to soak in for 45 minutes before washing it out with a natural shampoo. This shampoo regimen may be repeated up to 3 times a week to cleanse hair and stimulate healthier and stronger growth. Alternatively, a drop of Cinnamon Oil may be added to a regular shampoo to maintain hair health, add luster to dull strands, and to work as a preventative measure against head lice.
Cinnamon Oil is a beneficial ingredient for a natural face wash intended to enhance skin health by reducing inflammation, redness, and swelling while also eliminating harmful bacteria, preventing acne, and soothing infections. In a bowl, simply combine 1 Tbsp. Organic Coconut Carrier Oil, 3 Tbsp. Raw Honey, 1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar, 20 drops Cinnamon Essential Oil and 2 capsules of live probiotics. With a hand blender, mix all the ingredients together thoroughly, then pour the mixture into a convenient bottle or dispenser. Store this Honey and Cinnamon Oil Facial Cleanser in a cool place when it is not being used. Apply this cleanser to the face in the method of a usual face wash.
Used in medicinal applications, Cinnamon Oil’s warming properties make it ideal for soothing skin and muscles that are sore and tender. It can be included in an anti-septic massage blend to address arthritis, bronchitis, diarrhea, chills, flu, colds, indigestion, spasms, nausea, and infection. For a pain-relieving massage blend, dilute 3 drops of Cinnamon Essential Oil in 2 Tbsp. of a Carrier Oil such as Olive and massage it into the affected area. Regularly applying this massage blend is known to soothe inflammation, stiffness, muscle knots, and back pain. Massaging this oil blend into the abdomen for 5 minutes can help tone the digestive system, facilitate the release of excess gas, and ease bloating.
For a massage blend that combines other beneficial oils that relieve sore joints, combine 6 drops of Cinnamon Essential Oil, 4 drops of Clove Bud Essential Oil, 3 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil, 3 drops of Cedarwood Essential Oil, 2 drops of Neroli Essential Oil, 1 drop of Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil, 1 drop of Thyme Essential Oil, 60 ml (2 oz.) of a Carrier Oil of personal preference. This blend can be massaged into the affected areas daily until the pain subsides.
Cinnamon Oil can be diluted and used for an aromatic bath with a sweet and spicy scent. For a Cinnamon Bath Salt Soak, combine 3 ½ cups Epsom salts, 1-2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon and 5-10 drops Cinnamon Essential Oil in a large bowl, then thoroughly mix all the ingredients. Store the blend in an air-tight container until it is time to use it. In the bathtub, toss a handful of the salts under running tap water to ensure that the salts are properly dispersed. Ensure that they dissolve completely in the water before entering the tub. Alternatively, a bath salt blend can be made with 2 cups of salts, 1 cup of Baking Soda, 10 drops of Cinnamon Essential Oil, 5 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil, 5 drops Rosemary Essential Oil, 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil, 5 drops Peppermint Essential Oil, and 1 Tbsp. Carrier Oil.
Cinnamon Oil can be used to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps and to potentially reduce heavy menstrual flow when used in a hot compress. The generated heat will address pain and soreness while boosting circulation, thereby prompting the body’s anti-inflammatory response. Heat also promotes the dilation of pores, which facilitates the oil’s arrival at the affected area. To make a Cinnamon Oil hot compress, first, immerse a clean cloth or small towel entirely into a bowl of lukewarm water, then wring the towel to remove excess water. Heat this wet towel in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and apply it to the affected area.
A GUIDE TO CINNAMON OIL VARIETIES & ITS BENEFITS
CINNAMON BARK ESSENTIAL OIL (MADAGASCAR) & ORGANIC
Botanical Name: Cinnamomum zeylanicum
Country of Origin: Madagascar
- Be a clear, yellow to brownish liquid
- Have the warm, spicy scent characteristic of the Cinnamon spice
- Have a pleasant aroma that, when used in small amounts, makes a lovely, spicy fragrance agent in creams, lotions, and soaps
- Be ideal for those seeking the characteristic scent of Cinnamon for their products
CINNAMON LEAF ESSENTIAL OIL & ORGANIC
Botanical Name: Cinnamomum zeylanicum
Country of Origin: Sri Lanka
- Be a brownish-yellow or dark-colored liquid with a medium consistency
- Have a warm, spicy scent reminiscent of Clove, and has herbaceous notes that are not sweet
- Have a strong aroma
CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR CINNAMON OIL
As per NAHA guidelines, I do not recommend the ingestion of essential oils. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using Cinnamon Essential Oil for therapeutic purposes. Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use Cinnamon Essential Oil without the medical advice of a physician, as this oil has emmenagogue properties and may cause embryotoxicity. Those taking prescription drugs or undergoing major surgery are also advised to seek medical consultation prior to use. The oil should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of 7.
Prior to using Cinnamon Oil, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the essential oil in 4 drops of a Carrier Oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of skin that is not sensitive. Cinnamon Oil must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin.
Potential side effects of Cinnamon Essential Oil include dizziness, itching, skin irritation or sensitization, mucous membrane irritation, fatigue, rashes, burning, nausea, headache, diarrhea, contact dermatitis, digestive issues, inhibited blood clotting, and stomach pain. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the product and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use. Those with health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease or other heart-related ailments, peptic ulcers, liver damage, bleeding disorders such as hemophilia, or skin disorders are especially recommended to be advised. Cinnamon Oil may potentially react with certain medications, such as diabetes medication or anticoagulant medication, and may cause dyspnea.
Those seeking medical care to manage moods, behaviors, or disorders should treat this essential oil as a complementary remedy rather than a replacement for any medicinal treatments or prescriptions. It is recommended that direct sunlight be avoided for up to 12 hours after using this essential oil.
- Cinnamon Oil is derived from a tree that is recognized by two botanical names: Cinnamomum zeylanicum and Cinnamomum vervun. Both names refer to the same tree, which is considered to be “True Cinnamon.”
- Cinnamon Essential Oil may be obtained from either the tree’s outer bark or its leaves, hence the two main varieties are Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil and Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil
- Used in aromatherapy applications, Cinnamon Essential Oil is known to diminish the feelings of depression, faintness, and exhaustion, to stimulate the libido, and to strengthen immunity.
- Used cosmetically or topically in general, Cinnamon Essential Oil is reputed to calm dry skin, effectively alleviate aches, pains, and stiffness in the muscles and joints, address acne, rashes, and infections, enhance circulation, nourish the skin, slow the look of aging, and revive the skin tone.
- Used medicinally, Cinnamon Essential Oil is reputed to reduce inflammation, eliminate viruses, boost immunity, facilitate pain relief, and improve metabolic function.