Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is an evergreen tree that originated in current-day Sri Lanka, India and Burma. The plant’s bark is the source of the celebrated and well-known spice of the same name.
Popular in Ancient Egypt, cinnamon was an important part of their sacred embalming rites. It was later brought by Arab traders to Europe, where it was exclusively purchased by the wealthy. Cinnamon was so prized that it was among the riches that European explorers hoped to find in the Americas.
In present day, cinnamon is used to spice savoury and sweet dishes alike. Cinnamomum zeylanicum is also known as true cinnamon.1
Cinnamon essential oil is extracted from the leaves and sprigs of the cinnamon plant through a process of steam distillation. With a golden-brown appearance, the essential oil smells earthy, peppery and similar to the cinnamon spice.4
Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil
Cinnamon bark essential oil is steam distilled from only the bark of the cinnamon plant. Worldwide, it is one of the more expensive essential oils.3 While the scent of cinnamon bark essential oil is comparable to cinnamon essential oil, the aroma has been reported to be more intense.
When talking about cinnamon essential oil and cinnamon bark essential oil, it is important to know that a related plant, cassia or Chinese cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) has a similar scent profile and is often marketed interchangeably with true cinnamon products.2,3 This article will deal exclusively with the use and benefits of cinnamomum zeylanicum oils.
Uses for Cinnamon Essential Oil
While cinnamon is a familiar and welcoming scent, cinnamon essential oil has a variety of household uses. From a natural, household cleaner to DIY lip gloss, discover some of the top cinnamon essential oil uses below.
For aromatherapy, add 2-4 drops of cinnamon essential oil to a diffuser filled with water. Let the aroma fill the space for up to 30 minutes. Cinnamon essential oil blends well with a number of other essential oils, including neroli, sandalwood, ginger, and even ylang ylang.
The natural heat in cinnamon essential oil makes it a popular essential oil to help soothe sore muscles. Mix 1 drop of cinnamon essential oil with 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil (jojoba or grapeseed are good for most skin types). Apply to the affected area in a circular motion.
It’s important to use cinnamon essential oil sparingly, as it has a strong aroma and can cause a warming sensation when applied to the skin. You can also combine cinnamon essential oil with peppermint or wintergreen essential oils for a ‘hot/cold’ sensation.
DIY Lip Plumper
If you have ever used a lip gloss with some plumping effect, you might have noticed that cinnamon essential oil is often a key ingredient. These cosmetic lip plumpers work by irritating the lips slightly with cinnamon essential oil.
For a homemade gloss, mix 1 Tbsp. of unscented lip balm or a solid carrier oil such as shea butter with 1 drop of cinnamon essential oil. Massage into your lips, leave on for 1 minute, and then wipe off.
Natural Air Freshener
Add 2-3 drops of cinnamon essential oil to a spray bottle filled with water for a warming room scent. This particular fragrance has been reported as soothing and welcoming when used in colder weather.
For a chemical-free household cleaner, mix ½ cup of white vinegar and ½ cup water in a spray bottle. Then add 2-4 drops of cinnamon essential oil and gently shake to mix. Spray on counters and household surfaces and then wipe down with a damp cloth. Its antifungal effects make cinnamon essential oil a great kitchen counter and bathroom cleaner.
Natural Hand Sanitizer
Keeping hand sanitizer ready is a good idea while travelling or running errands. Cinnamon essential oil has been observed to have strong antifungal and antiseptic properties.
Make a simple hand sanitizer by mixing a ½ cup of aloe vera gel with 1 Tbsp. of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol in small container. Then add 1-2 drops of cinnamon oil and stir. Apply a quarter size amount to the palm of your hands. Rub hands together until the hand sanitizer is fully absorbed.
Benefits of Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cinnamon essential oil and cinnamon bark essential oils both have several therapeutic benefits. With antifungal, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, cinnamon essential oils have garnered an increasing amount of scientific attention in recent years. While research is ongoing, discover some of the exciting benefits of cinnamon and cinnamon bark essential oil.
In a 2015 study, scientists investigated the antifungal properties of cinnamon essential oil against C. gloeosporioides, a fungus that causes considerable damage to mango crops. Fungi from infected mangoes were collected and treated with either ginger or cinnamon essential oil.5
Both the essential oils were found to be highly antifungal, but cinnamon essential oil was observed to be effective at even lower concentrations than the ginger essential oil. The scientists concluded that cinnamon essential oil has the potential to be an excellent natural alternative to synthetic fungicides.5
A study in 2014 investigated the antimicrobial action of cinnamon bark essential oil. Bacteria colonies of both Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli were grown and then a portion of each colony was treated with cinnamon bark essential oil. After a 48-hour incubation period, the bacteria were evaluated.6
The antimicrobial activity of cinnamon bark essential oil was judged to be very effective. The scientists determined that cinnamon bark essential oil has the potential to make a good antiseptic.6
In a 2014 study, scientists tested the antioxidant activity of 23 essential oils, including cinnamon. The scientists used both corn oil and cooked turkey meat to measure each essential oil’s ability to slow rancidity (spoilage), a process which is linked to oxidization.7
Of the 23 varieties, cinnamon essential oil was noted to have the best antioxidant activity.7 This means that there is a great potential for the development of cinnamon essential oil as a food preservative, although further research is necessary.
Side Effects of Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cinnamon essential oil is generally considered safe and well tolerated for inhalation and diluted, topical use. Always make sure to dilute the oil before any topical application, and begin with a very small amount of cinnamon or cinnamon bark essential oil. Discontinue use if any irritation appears. Consult a health care practitioner before using cinnamon essential oil on children, pregnant or nursing women.
Commercially prepared essential oils are not intended for consumption. Do not consume cinnamon essential oil or cinnamon bark essential oil without first seeking the advice of a health care professional.
Where to Buy Cinnamon Essential Oil
Previously, high quality essential oils could only be bought at specialty health stores, or through
expensive multi-level marketing companies. Now, due to advancements in technology, extremely high grade essential oils can be purchased over the internet at very reasonable prices.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2015, January 23). Cinnamon. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/plant/cinnamon – View reference
- The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2008, April 14). Cassia. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/cassia-spice – View reference
- Ravindran, P.N., Nirmal-Babu, K., & Shylaja, M. (Eds.). (2004) Cinnamon and Cassia: The Genus Cinnamomum. CRC Press: Boca Raton; New York; London.
- Burdock, G. A. (2009). Fenaroli’s Handbook of Flavor Ingredients, Sixth edition. CRC Press: Boca Raton; New York; London.
- Sefu, G., Satheesh, N., & Berecha, G. (2015). Antifungal activity of ginger and cinnamon leaf essential oils on mango anthracnose disease causing fungi ( gloeosporioides). Carpathian Journal of Food Science & Technology, 7(2), 26-34. Retrieved from http://chimie-biologie.ubm.ro/carpathian_journal/Vol_7(2)_2015.pdf
- Wong Y. C, Ahmad-Mudzaqqir M. Y, Wan-Nurdiyana W.A. (2014). Extraction of Essential Oil from Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum). Oriental Journal of Chemistry. 30(1). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13005/ojc/300105
- Loizzo, M. R., Tundis, R., Menichini, F., & Duthie, G. (2015). Anti-rancidity effect of essential oils, application in the lipid stability of cooked turkey meat patties and potential implications for health. International Journal of Food Sciences & Nutrition, 66(1), 50-57. DOI:3109/09637486.2014.953454