Edition 65: March 2014
Essential Oil of the Month
Cinnamon: When less is so much more
ONE OF THE world’s ancient spices is also one of the most recognisable.
It’s so easy to recognise the aroma of the essential oil, the grinds in the spice rack or the quill in a curry.
It is, of course, cinnamon.
The herb, owing to its vast array of medicinal uses, found a prominent position in traditional medicines, especially Ayurveda (the traditional Indian medicinal system that dates back many millenia).
Medicinal use of cinnamon bark was first recorded in Chinese formularies as early as 2700BC.
The Egyptians used it in the embalming process to preserve bodies.
Cinnamon was used as a form of currency much like salt was and was thus highly coveted, helping to create new trade routes. When England colonized Sri Lanka in the 18th Century, the famous East Indian Company monopolised the cinnamon industry.
Cinnamon has long been included in ethnic cooking not only for its sweet flavour but also for its digestive properties and ability to preserve food.
Its essential oil can be used sparingly in modern cooking, in desserts, cakes and cookie mixtures where a cinnamon flavour is appropriate.
The herb, meanwhile, was used as a remedy for stomach upset and gas, and it was also used for serious diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
It was often used as an ingredient in mulled wines, love potions and wealth charms. The mythical Phoenix mixed cinnamon with myrrh and spikenard to use in the magic fire in which to be reborn.
Several species of cinnamon provide commercial cinnamon, but the best kind comes from the Ceylon Cinnamon tree, which produces the most sought-after bark. This cultivated variety is a bushy, robust sub-shrub growing up to three metres high.
Gathering takes place in the winter rainy season when the sap is more plentiful and decortication easier. The amount of bark increases with age.
It is very difficult botanically to distinguish cinnamon from cassia, both most likely represented as Ceylon or Chinese cinnamon.
Cinnamon is known to lower blood sugar levels, which is of particular help for people with type 2 diabetes. It contains a polyphenol called MHCP that improves the utilisation of insulin.
The essential oil would need to be used internally under expert supervision with a high measure of care for this purpose.
Cinnamon essential oil is highly anti-microbial and anti-bacterial for clearing a great diversity of bacteria, including staph infections and other forms of pathogenic organisms.
Cinnamon was traditionally used for relieving infections of the bladder and the digestive tract, as well as enzymatic deficiency in the gut. As a gastro-intestinal stimulant, it reabsorbs flatulence and regulates bowel movements.
It increases peristalsis in cases of constipation and if it is blended with carrot oil, it decreases peristalsis, if there is diarrhea or dysentery, whilst playing an antiseptic role. Blend cinnamon with clove and lemon oil to make an excellent liver regulator and stimulant.
Cinnamon’s key action is carminative, making it a fine digestive tonic that combats acidity. It helps ease indigestion, nausea, vomiting and bloat.
The oil is sometimes used in chewing gums and toothpastes to help freshen the mouth and remove bad breath.
Cinnamon aids in the circulation of blood due to the presence of a blood-thinning compound in it, which certainly enhances its pain-relieving abilities.
Good blood circulation also ensures oxygen supply to the body’s cells, leading to higher metabolic activity. It has a spurring effect on the bodily fluids, stimulating tears, saliva and mucous.
Cinnamon can relieve pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints, including arthritis. It is a good muscular tonic for use before a period of exertion. There is hearsay of its being a cure for warts.
Cinnamon oil could be added in the tiniest amounts to cough elixirs to help with colds, flu, sore throat and congestion. Such an addition would sweeten and enhance the formula. This oil eases colds, raising the body’s temperature, restoring warmth.
Research has shown that the scent of cinnamon boosts brain activity, improving cognitive activity.
The essential oil is also a potent vermifuge, which fights amoebae and intestinal worms. Blend with rosemary, clove and lemon for this purpose and use highly diluted as an abdominal rub.
Being diuretic in nature, such a rub could help in the discharge of urine. Relief from menstrual discomfort and cramping may be found when cinnamon is included in abdominal rubs.
Cinnamon oil contains cinnamaldehyde, which is an active mosquito-killing agent and suitable to be burned as a repellent or highly diluted in a blend.
It is also effective in killing mosquito larvae. Research has revealed that cinnamon oil obtained from the leaves and twigs of cinnamon can be used for controlling mites in honey bees.
Cinnamon may be used as a brain tonic to help treat memory loss. Research has shown that its scent boosts brain activity, improving cognitive activities such as attentional processes, virtual recognition memory, working memory and visual-motor response speed. Vapourise the oil in a burner for this purpose. Cinnamon bark is a general stimulant that is effective in cases of nervous depression, which are physical in origin.
It is suitable for people who are devitalised, emaciated or even anaemic (blended with carrot oil) and whose debility affects the psyche. It is a mood elevator, which can be given to people who are completely introverted as a result of relational blockages. In this case less is certainly more. Toxic in high doses, hypertensive and a nerve excitant, its benefits can quickly turn into drawbacks.
The wonderfully rich aroma is an aphrodisiac and is believed to arouse sexual desire, though it should not be used externally on sensitive skin except in highly diluted concentrations - and then never on sensitive areas. Due to its powerful nature, a diffuser would be best to experience this effect.
Energetically cinnamon bark oil produces a motivating energy within the body; it is very much a physical essence, restoring vigour and drawing the fire of courage in the belly of those who have been lost in a haze of melancholia.
Release negative emotions
Cinnamon helps us recognise how things; including beliefs, create attachment, enslavement and limitation.
It sheds light on the root causes of anger and abusive behaviour and where they have been held in the body.
It then works to release such negative and traumatic emotions trapped in the cellular memory, allowing energy to flow unimpeded through the physical and subtle bodies.
Use cinnamon oil in healing the scars of physical abuse in this life or past lives; reminding the body that it exists in the present.
This oil helps generate insights into the reasons that we give away our power or resist taking control. Massage cinnamon oil into the root chakra for re-empowerment, grounding and stimulating the will to live.
Activate the root chakra
By activating the root chakra, the aroma of cinnamon attracts abundance, and is often used with patchouli for this esoteric application accompanying visualisation.
Cinnamon enhances the effectiveness of other herbs and essential oils and thus speeds up the treatment of herbal remedies. It also acts as a sweetener to improve the taste of bitter herbal formulae. Cinnamon oil’s rich, spicy aroma is much sought after in perfumery.
It will serve as an excellent preservative due to its high antioxidant capacity when it is included in any blend. Try adding cinnamon to a room freshener or pot-pourri blend for extra exotic appeal.
Name: Cinnamon Bark
Botanical name: Cinnamomum zeylanicum
The Plant: The cinnamon tree is a tropical evergreen tree originating from Asia; found throughout China, India and Sri Lanka and is now grown in almost every tropical region of the world. In the wild, the tree grows up to 15m high with many branches and a thick scabrous bark. It has shiny, leathery green leaves, and small, white flowers with oval shaped purple berries.
Scent: Cinnamon oil has a sweet, warm-spicy aroma that is a little bit musky and certainly quite powerful. The light brown liquid is distilled from the bark and also from the leaves of the cinnamon tree. Often the bark oil is adulterated with leaf oil, which increases the eugenol level, smelling more clove-like. The bark oil is the sweeter option for perfumery.
Blends well with: Clove, carrot, rosemary, orange, tangerine, mandarin, patchouli, ylang-ylang, benzoin.
Therapeutic Properties: antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, analgesic, anti-rheumatic, antidote to poison, anti-putrescent, aphrodisiac, digestive, carminative, haemostatic, insecticide, parasiticide, stimulant (circulatory, cardiac, respiratory) vermifuge.
Precautions: Avoid during pregnancy. Do not use topically undiluted, keep out of reach of children and avoid contact with the eyes. Use sparingly and never in high dosage; being strong in nature, cinnamon oil should be avoided for internal consumption unless extremely diluted in a suitable carrier. Cinnamon leaf oil is considered less harsh on the skin than the bark essential oil.