Aromatherapy: Cinnamon

The simple powder used in cooking starts off as the dry inner bark of a large 20-to-30-foot tree most likely growing in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). The Arabs, who first brought cinnamon to the West, created a myth to frighten away rival traders, saying it could only be gathered in marshes from the nest of the great phoenix that was guarded by winged serpents and bats!

The Portuguese finally seized Ceylon in 1505, but the plants were such coveted commodities that the Dutch later conquered the country, followed by the British in 1798. Today, cinnamon’s aromatherapy properties are well known.


Then, as now, cinnamon flavored mouthwashes, foods, and drinks and was used as an aphrodisiac. Cinnamon‘s scent also stirs the appetite, invigorates and warms the senses, and may even produce a feeling of joy. There are several types of cinnamon oil to choose from: Oil can be distilled from the leaf or the much more potent bark, or you can obtain cassia oil, a less expensive relative of cinnamon that comes from China.

Principal constituents of cinnamon: The more irritant bark is 40-50 percent cinnamaldehyde and 4-10 percent eugenol; the leaf is 3 percent cinnamaldehyde and 70-90 percent eugenol. Cinnamon also contains linalol, methylamine ketone, and others.

Scent of cinnamon: It has a sweet, spicy-hot fragrance.

Therapeutic properties of cinnamon: Antiseptic, digestive, antiviral; relieves muscle spasms and rheumatic pain when used topically

Uses for cinnamon: In general, cinnamon is used as a physical and emotional stimulant. Researchers have found that it reduces drowsiness, irritability, and the pain and number of headaches. In one study, the aroma of cinnamon in the room helped participants to concentrate and perform better.

The essential oil and its fragrance help relax tight muscles, ease painful joints, and relieve menstrual cramps. In addition, it increases circulation and sweating when used as a liniment. Use 2 to 4 drops per ounce of vegetable oil for a warming oil or 8 drops per ounce to make a hot liniment.

Warnings for cinnamon: Both bark and leaf oils can irritate mucous membranes, but the bark oil is especially hot. Use no more than one-half drop in the bath, and avoid its use in cosmetics since it can redden and even burn the skin.


To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:

  • Aromatherapy: Learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • Essential Oils Profiles: We have collected profiles of dozens of plants that are used to produce essential oils. On these pages, you will learn the properties and preparations for the most popular essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathi Keville is director of the American Herb Association and editor of the American Herb Association Quarterly newsletter. A writer, photographer, consultant, and teacher specializing in aromatherapy and herbs for over 25 years, she has written several books, including Aromatherapy: The Complete Guide to the Healing Art and Pocket Guide to Aromatherapy, and has written over 150 articles for such magazines as New Age Journal, The Herb Companion, and New Herbal Remedies. This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.