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.