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Essential Oil Profile: Cinnamon

ESSENTIAL OIL PROFILE: CINNAMON

Cinnamon essential oil is produced from the leaves and bark of the Cinnamomum zeylanicum tree, also known as Cinnamomum verum, Laurus cinnamomum, Ceylon cinnamon or true cinnamon. Cinnamon belongs to the Lauraceae plant family, and is often confused with its relative cassia, or false cinnamon. Native to Sri Lanka, India and South East Asia, cinnamon is also now cultivated in the Seychelles, Indonesia and Zanzibar. The essential oil is extracted by water or steam distillation. While cinnamon leaf essential oil is generally safe to use in moderation, cinnamon bark is considered to be a dermal toxin and irritant and is not recommended for use in aromatherapy.

Cinnamon Oil

Characteristics

Cinnamon leaf essential oil is a yellow to brownish liquid with a warm, spicy yet slightly harsh aroma. It has a top note and blends well with ylang ylang, orange, mandarin, benzoin, clove, ginger, lime, frankincense, grapefruit, lavender, thyme and rosemary.

Chemical Constituents

The main chemical constituents found in cinnamon essential oil are:

  • eugenol – a phenol that has rubefacient and antiseptic properties
  • cinnamaldehyde – an aldehyde that has antibacterial properties
  • benzyl benzoate – an ester that has antispasmodic properties.

Safety Considerations

Cinnamon leaf essential oil is relatively non-toxic. However, its main component, eugenol, may cause irritation to the skin and mucous membranes. It should therefore be used in moderation only on the skin, and should not be used in baths. Cinnamon should be avoided during pregnancy.

Historical and Traditional Uses

Cinnamon is commonly sold as a domestic spice. The Ancient Egyptians used it in the mummification process as a preservative. For thousands of years, cinnamon has been used in the East for a wide range of health complaints such as colds, flu, rheumatism, kidney troubles, digestive and menstrual problems and as a general stimulant. Today it is used to flavour alcoholic and soft drinks and is added to dental care products, toiletries and perfumes.

Therapeutic Actions

The therapeutic properties of cinnamon leaf essential oil include:

  • antimicrobial
  • antiseptic
  • antispasmodic
  • aphrodisiac
  • astringent
  • carminative
  • digestive
  • emmenagogue
  • stimulant
  • stomachic.

Aromatherapy Use

Circulation, Muscles and Joints:

  • poor circulation – massage
  • rheumatism – massage.

Immune System:

  • chills – massage
  • colds and flu – massage or vaporisation
  • infections – massage or vaporisation.

Digestive System:

  • diarrhoea – massage
  • indigestion – massage
  • flatulence – massage
  • loss of appetite – massage
  • nausea and vomiting – massage or vaporisation
  • sluggish digestion – massage
  • spasms – massage.

Genito-Urinary System:

  • frigidity – massage or vaporisation
  • irregular and scanty periods – massage.

Nervous System:

  • debility – massage or vaporisation
  • nervous exhaustion – massage or vaporisation
  • stress-related conditions – massage or vaporisation.

Emotional and Spiritual Connection

Cinnamon is associated with the colour red and the base chakra. It has a hot and stimulating energy and helps to generate warmth. Cinnamon is said to restore the zest for life in those who are depressed, and the fire and courage of the belly in those who feel sad.

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