While you may associate cinnamon with the scent of the holiday season, this warming spice does more than add a delightful flavor to your winter desserts.
Cinnamon bark essential oil is a highly versatile essential oil that can be used aromatically, topically, and even internally to treat a wide variety of health issues. Cinnamon bark essential oil can be used to help prevent infection, remedy digestive issues, support the respiratory system, ease the pain of sore muscles, and more.
The History of Cinnamon
The use of cinnamon—botanically known as Cinnamomum verum or Cinnamomum zeylanicum—goes back thousands of years. Its botanical name is derived from the Arabic word “amomon,” which means “fragrant spice plant.” 1
The true cinnamon tree is a member of the Lauraceae family and is native to Sri Lanka, although is also cultivated commercially in India, Java, Brazil, Vietnam, Madagascar, Zanzibar, and Egypt. It is a small, tropical evergreen tree that can grow up to 30 feet in height and has aromatic bark and leaves.
The term “cinnamon” can also refer to C. aromaticum, which is also known as cassia. Most of the cinnamon and cinnamon sticks you find in the grocery store these days are actually cassia instead of true cinnamon since cassia is less expensive. 2
Although cinnamon is readily available in any grocery store today, this was not always the case. In ancient times, cinnamon was a highly-prized aromatic spice.
Cinnamon was imported to Egypt from China as early as 2000 BCE and is mentioned in multiple passages of the Bible. In Exodus, for example, Moses used cinnamon, cassia, myrrh, sweet calamus, and olive oil to create a holy anointing oil.
In the first century AD, Pliny the Elder wrote that 350 grams of cinnamon were equal in value to over 5kg of silver. Additionally, ancient Egyptians used cinnamon in the embalming process, and physicians in medieval times used cinnamon to treat coughs and sore throats.
After Roman Emperor Nero murdered his wife, he ordered every bit of cinnamon in the city to be burnt, amounting to an entire year’s supply of the spice. Cinnamon was also commonly used on funeral pyres in Rome.
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During the Middle Ages, the source of cinnamon was a mystery. Arab traders were the first to introduce this spice to the west, and they did a remarkable job of hiding the true origin of this commodity and controlled the trade of the spice for nearly 3,000 years.
Portuguese traders finally discovered the source of cinnamon at the end of the 15th century and began to control the trade for over 100 years. 3
Dutch traders eventually took control of cinnamon trade in the late 16th century, followed by the British in the late 17th century. By this time, cultivation of the true cinnamon tree began to spread to other places, cassia bark became more widespread, and coffee, sugar, tea, and chocolate began to become more popular than traditional spices.
There are two different types of cinnamon essential oil, both distilled from C. zeylanicum. Cinnamon leaf essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves of the true cinnamon tree, while cinnamon bark essential oil is distilled from the bark.
The resulting oil is reddish in color and has a warm, spicy scent. Cinnamon bark essential oil is known to have antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and carminative properties. This is all due to its composition, which includes:
The main component of cinnamon bark essential oil is cinnamaldehyde, which has powerful antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Caryophyllene has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, while eugenol acts as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
Linalool is linked to the production of Vitamin E, a powerful anti-stress agent, and has been shown to promote restful sleep.
Cinnamon bark essential oil is high in cinnamaldehyde, while cinnamon leaf essential oil is high in eugenol. Because of this, cinnamon bark essential oil is a lot harsher on the skin. If using it in topical applications, be sure to use fairly low concentrations of the essential oil and higher concentrations of a carrier oil like almond, coconut, or jojoba oil.
Additionally, cinnamon bark essential oil is more potent and has a stronger smell than cinnamon leaf essential oil and is more expensive.
Uses for Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil
Cinnamon bark essential oil is highly revered in aromatherapy due to its versatile therapeutic properties. It can be used to boost immune system function, support oral health, relieve sore muscles, and support heart health.
Prevents Infections and Boosts Immune System Function
The antibacterial and antifungal properties of cinnamon bark essential oil help protect the body against harmful pathogens and can help boost immune system function.
In a 2006 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the antibacterial properties of 21 different essential oils were tested against six different bacterial species. The results of this study showed that of all the essential oils tested, cinnamon essential oil showed the highest levels of antibacterial activity. 5
Additionally, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine tested the anti-fungal activity of cinnamon essential oil against three different species of Candida. The results showed that cinnamon essential oil exhibited a strong anti-fungal effect against all three strains. 6
To benefit from these properties, diffuse cinnamon bark essential oil throughout the home. You can also use this oil to create a natural disinfectant for smooth surfaces in the home. Not only will it kill off any harmful bacteria, it will also reduce odors and make your home smell lovely.
Remedies Digestive Issues
Cinnamon has been used since ancient times to remedy digestive issues such as diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, constipation, heartburn, and general stomach pain. The carminative properties of this essential oil help relieve bloating and flatulence, and using this oil both aromatically and topically can help relieve minor aches and pains.
To remedy digestive issues, mix a few drops of cinnamon bark essential oil with a carrier oil and gently massage onto the lower abdomen. You can also diffuse it throughout a room, add it to a warm bath, or drink a drop of cinnamon oil diluted in a cup of water.
Supports Respiratory Health
If you’re suffering from a cough, cold, flu, congestion, bronchitis, or a sore throat, cinnamon bark essential oil can help relieve some of these symptoms. The antibacterial properties of this oil can help fight off illnesses that cause these symptoms, and its anti-inflammatory properties reduce inflammation in the throat and lungs.
In a 2007 study published in Phytotherapy Research, the antibacterial effects of a variety of different essential oils were tested against bacteria that cause respiratory infections. Of all the oils tested, cinnamon, thyme, and clove exhibited the most powerful antibacterial effects. 7
To support the respiratory system and breathe easier, diffuse cinnamon bark essential oil throughout the home. You can also add a few drops into a bowl of warm water and breathe in the healing vapors. Alternatively, add a drop of cinnamon bark essential oil to a warm mug of lemon water and honey.
Supports Oral Health
Although clove essential oil is well-known for its ability to support oral health, cinnamon essential oil’s antibacterial properties make it a great alternative.
In a 2011 study, both cinnamon and clove essential oils were tested against oral microbiota. The results of the study showed that cinnamon essential oil was actually more effective than clove essential oil. 8
To support oral health and reduce bacteria that cause gum disease and plaque, add a drop of cinnamon essential oil to your daily mouthwash. Be sure to maintain a proper dilution so that it doesn’t irritate the mouth.
Cinnamon bark essential oil is great to have during the winter months when joints and muscles begin to ache. Add a drop or two to a carrier oil, then gently heat and massage onto sore areas.
A 2016 study studied the effects of cinnamon essential oil on acute and chronic pain in mice. The results showed that the cinnamon essential oil exhibited antinociceptive properties similar to that of popular over-the-counter pain medications. 9
Supports Cardiovascular Health
Cinnamon bark essential oil is a great natural way to boost heart health. A study published in 2014 tested how cinnamon bark extract combined with long-term aerobic training affected cardiovascular function in rats.
The results showed that those who were given a cinnamon bark extract exhibited lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. 10
Cinnamon bark essential oil is also thought to maintain healthy circulation, which further supports heart health. Simply diffusing this oil throughout the home can potentially provide these benefits.
Alleviates Stress and Promotes Relaxation
To relieve stress and allow yourself to feel warm and relaxed, breathe in the therapeutic properties of cinnamon essential oil through a room diffuser or portable aromatherapy diffuser like Love MONQ.
How To Use Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil
- Mix a few drops of cinnamon bark essential oil with water in a spray bottle to create a natural disinfecting spray for surfaces.
- Diffuse cinnamon bark essential oil throughout the home to deodorize the air and rid the air of harmful pathogens.
- Heat up a drop of cinnamon bark essential oil mixed with a carrier oil and use as a relaxing massage oil.
- Add one drop of cinnamon bark essential oil to a small cup of warm water and gargle for a disinfecting mouth rinse.
- Add a drop of cinnamon bark essential oil to a tea of lemon, honey, and ginger to ward off cold and flu symptoms.
- Diffuse a mixture of cinnamon bark, clove, and orange essential oils to fill the home with a festive scent.
Safety and Precautions
When used with caution, cinnamon bark essential oil is safe for topical, aromatic, and internal use. Always be sure that you are purchasing pure, undiluted and, preferably, organic essential oils, and never use an oil in a way that isn’t recommended by its vendor.
Cinnamon bark essential oil is known for causing skin sensitivity, so this oil should always be diluted before using topically. Always conduct a patch test before applying over larger areas of the skin to avoid irritation. This essential oil may also be irritating to the nasal passages, so it isn’t recommended to sniff it directly from the bottle.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid the use of essential oils unless directed by a doctor.
Never use an essential oil in place of a prescription medication or to treat a chronic condition.
If stored correctly in a cool, dark place, cinnamon bark essential oil should last approximately four years. 11
Cinnamon bark essential oil blends well with black pepper, ginger, clove, cardamom, bergamot, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, melaleuca, wild orange, and ylang-ylang essential oils.
By blending this essential oil with other therapeutic oils, you can extend its health benefits and create a mixture that suits your particular needs.