Cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum (also called Cinnamomum zeylanicum), an essential oil with a warm, spicy, sweet, scent, is also known as "true cinnamon" or "Ceylon cinnamon." It has been used for centuries. It was the most sought-after spice of the 15th and 16th centuries--at one time it was more valuable than gold. The oil is extracted from the bark or leaves through a steam distillation process.
Since cinnamon oil can irritate the skin it must be properly diluted before use on the skin. When properly diluted, it can be a great massage oil to increase circulation and relieve achy joints and muscles.
Cinnamon oil is also a powerful antiseptic and is great for oily complexions.
Aromatherapy Properties: Cinnamon is a physical and emotional stimulant that is also relaxing, and helps reduce depression and anxiety. Researchers found that just having the aroma in the room reduces drowsiness, irritability, and the pain and frequency of headaches. Many people love the aroma of cinnamon. In one study, it helped the participants concentrate and perform better in mental work. A drop or two (remember it is very strong) in some warm water or a diffuser will scent your home and create a nice inviting atmosphere.
Cinnamon vs Cassia
While there are hundreds of cinnamon species around the world, there are mainly two we find in our markets.
Cinnamomum verum - its Latin translation means from "true Cinnamon." It is also known by an older botanical name Cinnamomum zeylanicum, which means Ceylon Cinnamon. This Cinnamon originally came from Sri Lanka, which was called Ceylon during British Colonialism.
- Cinnamomum aromaticum, also known as Cinnamomum cassia, Chinese Cinnamon, or simply Cassia, originated in southern China.
Cassia and "true cinnamon" share the same botanical family. While they both have a spicy, warm aroma, cassia is cheaper to produce and has a slightly different flavor profile. True cinnamon is sweeter, less bold, and has a more delicate flavor, whereas cassia has a stronger, bolder flavor.
While in the U.S. the word "cinnamon" can be used to label both true cinnamon and cassia, in the U.K. and many other countries cassia must be labeled "cassia." Most of the "cinnamon sticks" and "ground cinnamon" purchased in U.S. grocery stores is really cassia. The difference in the texture of the two "cinnamon" sticks is quite noticeable. The Ceylon "true" cinnamon stick is thinner, and softer, and will show multiple layers of paper-thin bark. The cassia stick is a thicker single-coil and does not show multiple layers in the roll.
Bark vs Leaf Oil
"True cinnamon" essential oil can be made from the bark or the leaves. So what's the difference?
Cinnamon Bark oil is steam distilled from the bark of Cinnamomum verum tree. It has higher levels of cinnamaldehyde, which has antimicrobial and antiviral properties. It has a stronger scent than the oil distilled from the leaves and smells warm, spicy and woody. Also, cinnamon bark oil can be very irritating to the skin, which means it must be diluted before use.
- Cinnamon Leaf oil is steam distilled from the leaf of the Cinnamomum verum tree. It contains higher levels of eugenol, which is valued as a pain killer. The leaf oil has a milder aroma than cinnamon bark or cassia essential oil. Cinnamon leaf oil is less irritating to the skin than bark oil.
Pregnancy and Children: We do not provide information on the safety of essential oils during Pregnancy or for use in Children because the available information is very ambiguous and often contradictory. If you’re interested in using essential oils during pregnancy or with young children please do your own research and consult your doctor, midwife, or health care professional before use.
Precautions: If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, have a medical condition, or have any medical concerns regarding yourself or your family consult a qualified, licensed health professional prior to use. For external use only. Keep away from eyes and mucous membranes. Keep out of reach of children.