Cinnamon – Cinnamomum verum
Cinnamon comes from the cinnamon tree native to Southeast Asia and is a close relative to cassia. Cinnamon oil can be obtained from either the bark or the leaves of the cinnamon tree, although there is some disagreement among essential oil experts as to which version is more effective. It is most widely thought that cinnamon oil from the bark is more pure. Cinnamon is often referred to as “true cinnamon” in order to differentiate it from the very similar properties of cassia. Cinnamon is widely used for both culinary and aromatherapy purposes as well as topical application.
Cinnamon is derived from the Phoenician word kinnamomon and written records reflect its prominence throughout history. It was imported to Egypt as early as 2000 B.C and it is also referenced in the Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest Egyptian medical texts on record. The Hebrew Bible mentions cinnamon often, the first time as a component of the Holy Anointing oil God commanded Moses to prepare.
Cinnamon was so precious that it was considered a proper gift for kings and an honorable offer for the gods. According to Pliny, a pound of cinnamon cost approximately 10 months in wages for an average laborer. The Greeks used cinnamon to flavor wine, while the Egyptians used it for aromatic burning in their temples as well as a compound in the mixture of spices used for embalming. The mythical phoenix was believed to build its nest from cinnamon and many people believed that wearing cinnamon among your clothing would attract wealth.
Cinnamon was one of the four components found in the “thieves vinegar” developed by 15th century grave robbers to protect them from disease. This mixture was also used to guard against the plague. Dry cinnamon was historically used to banish freckles and treat snakebites and kidney troubles.
Cinnamon is highly aromatic with a spicy, warm smell. It gets its distinctive aroma and taste from the component, cinnamaldehyde. Cinnamon oil is a light golden-yellow color when it is fresh, but reaction with oxygen will cause it to darken as it ages. Cinnamon oil can be expressed from both the bark and the leaves by steam distillation. It mixes well with basil, cypress, citrus oils, clove, frankincense, geranium, patchouli, lavender, rosemary and oregano.
Cinnamon essential oil has long been popular because of its distinctively comforting aroma. Some believe that the smell of cinnamon is a powerful aphrodisiac, while others use it simply to invigorate and uplift the mind. Diffusing or adding one to two drops to a full bath is the best way to harness the aromatherapy benefits of cinnamon oil.
Cinnamon essential oil is a good support for the digestive system since it contains food disintegrating properties. Additionally, this oil stimulates the production of both saliva and gastric juices, which also aid digestion. A drop or two of cinnamon mixed with honey may help alleviate stomach cramps as well as treat nausea and vomiting.
Cinnamon essential oil is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and is often used to treat respiratory conditions. Individuals suffering from bronchitis or the common cold can mix two to three drops of cinnamon oil into a glass of warm water sweetened with honey for symptomatic relief. This oil is also effective for encouraging blood circulation as well as increasing body temperature, which helps people who suffer particularly from the cold in their fingers, toes and joints. To apply topically, you should mix one drop of cinnamon oil with 40 to 50 drops of fractionated coconut oil and apply directly to the afflicted areas.
Cinnamon oil should never be applied topically or ingested without diluting it first. It is not recommended for ingestion in children and pregnant or nursing mothers should consult their physician before using cinnamon oil.