Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is one of the world’s oldest and most valued spices. Ancient cultures considered Cinnamon Bark such a precious commodity it was used in trading. During the European middle ages the main supplier was the Arab world.
Much mystic and intrigue surrounding the origin of this heady spice was fostered by the Arabs to increase its demand and therefore its cost. Many stories about where cinnamon came from were contrived to justify its exorbitant price tag. It became so expensive during this time that having it was a sign of status and wealth.
The push to meet an ever increasing demand lead explorers to go in search of Cinnamon Bark and its real origin. Around the early 16th century the Portuguese found the cinnamon at Ceylon, present day Sri Lanka. They enslaved and entire population of people to gain control of the Cinnamon Bark trade. The Dutch took it over in the mid 17th century and in the late 18th century the British. But, by this time the supply had increased and it was no longer considered a rare commodity.
Types of Cinnamon
Today we mainly encounter two types of cinnamon: Ceylon and Cassia. Cassia is comes from the Cinnamomum cassia tree. It originated in Southern China and is called Chinese cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon has a dark brownish red color and its bark is thicker and more textured than Ceylon. Its fragrance is strong and spicy compared to Ceylon with about 95% percent of its oil coming from cinnamaldehyde. Cassia is a cheaper cinnamon and often the type found on the shelves in grocery stores.
Ceylon cinnamon or Cinnamon Bark (“true” cinnamon) comes from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree. Its Latin name is Cinnamomum zeylanicum and it is native to Sri Lanka. It is tan in color and has a mild more sweet flavor. Its oil also contains cinnamaldehyde but only at about 60 to 70 %.
About Cinnamon Bark
A closer look at this amazing essential oil reveals its wealth of polyphenols. Polyphenols are micro-nutrients found in plants that are packed full of antioxidants. Antioxidants are the antidote to the damage free radicals do in our bodies. They fight for us against aging, inflammation, bacterial and viral infections, bad breath, neurological disorders (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s), digestive disorders, diabetes, and perhaps even lower the risk of some cancers such as colon cancer.
Cinnamon Bark is good for the heart health. It may help to mitigate factors in heart disease such as high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Some research suggests that the cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon may cause vasodilation thus lowering blood pressure.
One double blind clinical trial has also shown that supplementation with Cinnamon Bark has promising possibilities for type 2 diabetics by lowering high blood pressure and HbA1c levels in the blood and blocking some digestive enzymes. The research suggests that cinnamon may balance blood sugar levels by increasing the sensitivity to insulin thus allowing the uptake of sugar into the cell. The study further states that cinnamon may also help slow the absorption of sugar into the blood stream by blocking the activity of some digestive enzymes (α-Glucosidase and Pancreatic α-Amylase).
- Rich in antioxidants
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Lowers high cholesterol
- Decreases high blood pressure
- Fights microbes and viruses
- Eases pain of menstruation
Properties due to high antioxidant content
Analgesic – relieves pain
Anti inflammatory -reduces inflammation
Antidiarrheal – counteracts diarrhea
Anthelmintic – rids body of parasites
Antimicrobial – kills or suppresses growth of microbes
Antiseptic – assists in fighting germs and infections
Anti-putrefy – prevents or slows decay
Antiviral – inhibits or destroys viruses
How to Chooses a Quality Essential Oil
Always buy your essential oils from a reputable company. The phrase “you get what you pay for” is very true. Cheaper oils tend to have chemicals added to help normalize the smell, to achieve a more consistent smell profile, and to increase profit margins. When researching where to buy your oils, look for three things:
- Transparency – Country of origin, extraction method, GCMS profile, lot number…
- Organic- Always use 100% organic. Look for the USDA certified organic logo
- Third Party Certification – reputable companies usually have a certification via an independent entity
Some common uses for Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil are:
- Create a delicious aroma for any room. Diffuse 5 drops in a water for an hour or so. For added depth add a drop or two of clove and Sweet orange essential oil.
- Keep cravings for unhealthy food at bay buy inhaling directly from the bottle. Or, rub a drop or two between your palms and inhale deeply.
- Ease the pain from indigestion and gas. Dilute a few drops in a tablespoon of unscented cream or organic carrier oil and rub on the abdomen.
- Fight toenail fungus. According to a 2016 research article Cinnamon oil may help to fight fungal infections from Candida albican (usually found at toenail fungus infections)
- Kill germs on counter tops and other surfaces. Add 4 to 5 drops to a half cup of water and shake vigorously.
- Add flavor to your food by adding 1 to 2 drops. Only use pharmaceutical grade 100% organic oils for flavoring. Taken internally may help detox the body. Note AIA guidelines for internal use.
AIA Internal Use Statement
AIA does not endorse internal therapeutic use (oral, vaginal or rectal) of essential oils unless recommended by a health care practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level. An appropriate level of training must include chemistry, anatomy, diagnostics, physiology, formulation guidelines and safety issues regarding each specific internal route (oral, vaginal or rectal). Please refer to the AIA Safety Guidelines for essential oil use.
*DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for educational purposes only, not to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose any disease or condition, or prescribe in any way. The data presented here may not be complete or fully accurate. As with all essential oils, do not take internally unless working with a qualified and expert practitioner.
*SAFETY WARNING: If applying an essential oil to skin, always perform a small patch test by properly diluting the oil in an appropriate carrier oil and applying to an insensitive part of the body, such as inside of elbow. Use vegetable or milk to remove any essential oils causing irritation. Always keep essential oils and blends away from children. To slow oxidation and protect shelf life, store in a cool, dark place with lids tightly secured. Never put oils in the ear canal or eyes. Tell all your health care providers about any Alternative health products you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.