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Essential Oil Profile of the Month: Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)

Chinese name: 肉桂 Ròuguì
Family: Lauraceae
Recommended Daily Dosage: Internally- 3-4 drops, 3 times daily for adults.
Externally- 1-2 drops in the bath.

Precautions: Do not use if pregnant or nursing, or if suffering from stomach or intestinal ulcers.  Cinnamon may cause irritation taken internally or applied externally. Use a skin patch test or reduce the dosage by half if someone is particularly sensitive to be sure that there is no reaction.  Sensitive individuals may have a rash appear. If stinging and redness occur, dilute it with a carrier oil. If no reaction, it is safe to use the recommended dosage. If used in excess, possible side effects are: mucous membrane irritation, tachycardia, increased respiration, increased peristalsis, convulsions and perspiration through stimulation of the vasomotor center, followed by a sedative stage characterized by sleepiness and depression. It is also hepatotoxic in large doses, so be careful with individuals with sensitive livers. From a Chinese medicine perspective, it is contraindicated for Heat and Empty Heat conditions.

Aroma: Sweet
Taste: Spicy, sweet, hot
Color: Light yellow
Feel: Wet, slippery
Nature: Hot qi

Possible Therapeutic Actions- antibacterial, antifungal antiviral,antispasmodic, anti-ulcer, blood-thinning, cancer-preventative, stomachic, circulation stimulation, estrogenic, febrifuge [reduces fever], hypoglycemic [lowers blood sugar], hypotensive [lowers blood pressure], insecticide, nerve sedative, nerve stimulant

Medicinal Uses- mental exhaustion; nervous depression [especially in devitalized, emaciated and/or anemic people]; depression caused by relationship problems; post-partum depression; introversion; feelings of isolation; emotional coldness; fear; nervousness; insomnia; viral infections; fever; cholera; typhoid fever; fainting; periodontal disease; toothache; circulatory debility with chilliness; hypotension; respiratory weakness [expands the chest volume]; colds; bronchitis; pleurisy; gastrointestinal spasms; lack of gastrointestinal tone; pancreatic deficiency; dyspepsia; colitis; flatulence; diarrhea; nausea; vomiting; amoeba infection; intestinal worms; kidney weakness; cystitis; dysmenorrhea; scanty menstruation; deficient uterine contractions during birth delivery; vaginitis; leucorrhea; impotence; frigidity; muscle spasms; rheumatism; foot fungus; head lice; scabies; insect bites; warts
Cinnamon, a member of the Lauraceae family, is a native of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) and southwest India, but is now cultivated extensively in other tropical areas. The evergreen tree grows from 15-40 feet tall in the wild, but the cultivated trees are kept short and shrub-like (approximately 7.5 feet tall) for the purpose of easier harvesting of the shoots. The glossy, opposite leaves are ovate-oblong, from 6-9 inches long, bright red at first, then turning green when mature. The yellow, silky, inconspicuous flowers arise in long panicles. The thick, rough bark and leaves emit the well-known cinnamon scent. The flowers produce bluish, acorn-like berries. Collection of the dried inner bark of the shoots, the part most commonly used in commerce and medicine (and from which the best essential oil is distilled), generally begins when the tree is five years-old. Using special knives, the bark the of two year old shoots is harvested during the rainy season and left to rot for a day after which the inner bark can be easily separated from the coarse outer layer; the inner bark is first shade-dried and then sun-dried. The tree requires a great deal of rain (at least 100 inches annually) and heat, prefers sheltered places and consistent temperature and grows best in a well-drained, very sandy, yet nutrient rich, loam.


Cinnamon has long been used in herbal medicine, the medicinal parts being the bark (primarily) and the leaves. In herbal medicine, cinnamon is considered to exert the following therapeutic actions: stimulant, sedative, tonic, stomachic, carminative, hemostatic and astringent. The digestive tract is one of cinnamon’s main spheres of influence, and the herb has long been used to stimulate appetite and gastric secretions and to relieve dyspepsia, gastrointestinal spasms, flatulence, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (including infantile diarrhea). It is also a powerful hemostatic agent used to stop nosebleeds, pulmonary hemorrhage, gastrointestinal hemorrhage in alcoholics, dysentery and bloody diarrhea related to other causes (e.g. ulcerative colitis), hematuria, post-partum hemorrhage, flooding during miscarriage, menorrhagia and uterine hemorrhage related to other causes. Cinnamon is one of the most effective remedies in the herbal materia medica for uterine hemorrhage. Cinnamon acts directly upon the muscle fibers of the uterus, causing contraction and arresting hemorrhage. Cinnamon has also been employed to stop the secretion of breast milk. Other conditions that cinnamon may prove of useful include: toothache; influenza, diabetes, anxiety during childbirth, sexual debility, worm infestation and wounds.  Cinnamon contains a substance which destroys bacteria and other harmful microorganisms, including Clostridium botulinum (which causes botulism) and Staphylococcus aureus. It exerts a similar action upon Aspergillus parasiticus and A. flavus, fungal organisms which produce the carcinogenic poison aflatoxin.

In Chinese medicine, cinnamon is considered useful for promoting the circulation of blood and qi. It is viewed as having a hot energy that moves upward and strengthens Kidney Yang and sexual vigor. Cinnamon dispels cold and relieves pain. Prolonged use of cinnamon is thought to relieve chronic tension in the neck and shoulders, warm the Spleen and Stomach and the skin, thus adding color to the complexion and helping clear the skin of blemishes. Cinnamon is also used to calm the nerves and to treat: anemia; hypertension; fever; gastrointestinal pain due to cold; headaches; colic and lumbago.

Essential oil of cinnamon is distilled from the leaves, twigs and dried inner bark of the cinnamon tree. The essential oil distilled from the inner bark is considered the highest quality. The most important chemical component of the bark oil is cinnamaldehyde, an aldehyde which promotes gastrointestinal motility and is a powerfully antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. In general, aldehydes exert anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive [In debilitated individuals, however, cinnamon oil can be used to elevate low blood pressure. In general, whether cinnamon will act as a nerve stimulant or sedative, hypotensive or hypertensive is a dose-dependent phenomenon.], sedative and tonic effects. 

1 Comment to Essential Oil Profile of the Month: Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum):

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Susan George on Monday, November 21, 2016 1:31 AM
Awesome tips. found it really interesting and useful.
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