Ahhh…nothing says “winter” quite like the spicy smell of cinnamon! It makes us feel warm, cheerful, invigorated. This fabulous Christmas scent has an intriguing resume.
Cinnamon is an evergreen that grows to about 45′ tall and is native to India, Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. This plant produces three different essential oils – Cinnamon Bark, Cinnamon Leaf, and Cinnamon Root. While both bark and leaf oils can be used in aromatherapy, leaf oil as it is the gentler of these ‘hot oils. Cinnamon Leaf oil should not be confused with Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia), Chinese Cinnamon. Both Cassia and Cinnamon Bark oil contain extremely high levels of cinnamic aldehyde, a strong skin irritant and sensitizer, hence that term ‘hot’. Caution and dilution when using this oil is recommended because contact with the skin will leave the area looking sunburned. Though typically used by inhalation, I have enjoyed adding it to recipes for an exquisite taste that just can’t be achieved with its dried counterpart.
Cinnamon, used for 1000’s of years in Eastern and Western cultures, is a Biblical oil. Egyptians used it in embalming practices. Arab traders provided the spice to Greeks and Romans keeping its source a secret. It was the this secret that provoked the Portuguese to discover the route around the Cape to Ceylon and India! Today cinnamon essential oil is used as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal and has demonstrated anti-viral properties too. It meat be helpful following a fever, in addressing aches and chills from the early stages of cold or flu, and may be beneficial during convalescence. It may help nervous depression.