Cassia and Ceylon Cinnamon

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees of the genus Cinnamomum in the Lauraceae family.

Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum or Cinnamomum zeylanicum), also known as true cinnamon, is native to Bangladesh, Sri-Lanka, the Malabar Coast of India and Burma and has medicinal value.

In ancient times, people valued true cinnamon so highly that they offered it to monarchs or gods. Spice traders charged dearly for this aromatic spice. In Europe, the source of cinnamon was kept secret until the late 13th century.

Cinnamomum cassia or Cassia cinnamon (common or Indonesian) is another member of the Cinnamomum genus. Its bark is also sold as the spice cinnamon. As a matter of fact, the cheapest and most common type of cinnamon sold in the US is made from powdered Cinnamomum cassia.

Cassia Cinnamon

Cassia Cinnamon

 

Medicinal Use

In folk medicine, cinnamon is used to treat muscle spasms. It can combat vomiting, diarrhea, infections and even the common cold. It is regulates appetite and helps to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). According to some studies, it lowers blood sugar in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Essential Oils

Ceylon cinnamon oil is obtained from bark or the leaves of Cinnamomum verum through the process of steam distillation. The pungent taste and scent of cinnamon come from cinnamic aldehyde (cinnamaldehyde) which makes up to 70% of the essential oil from the bark and about 2% from the leaves. Eugenol is another important compound found in the essential oils.

Ceylon cinnamon leaf essential oil

Properties:

  • strong antimicrobial and antiseptic
  • destroys or inhibits the growth of bacteria (antibacterial), virus (antiviral) and fungus (fungicidal)
  • helps to eliminate parasitic intestinal worms (vermifuge)
  • helps to counteract the effects of a poison (antidotal)
  • prevents and counteracts decay (antiputrescent)
  • alleviates spasms or convulsions (antispasmodic)
  • relieves diarrhea (antidiarrheal)
  • is astringent (contracts body tissues to help to control secretions or bleeding)
  • stops bleeding (hemostatic, antihemorrhagic)
  • improves appetite and promotes digestion of food (stomachic)
  • aids with the relief of pain (analgesic)
  • promotes menstrual flow (emmenagogue)

Indications:

  • stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth and lips)
  • ororhinopharyngitis (infection of the ear, nose and pharynx)
  • toothache
  • bronchitis
  • colitis
  • cystitis
  • salpingitis (infection of the Fallopian tubes)
  • rheumatism
  • poor circulation
  • intestinal infection
  • sluggish digestion
  • spasm
  • colds, flu, and infectious diseases.

The intense, sweet-spicy, peppery and warm fragrance of cinnamon leaf oil can have a reviving, restorative and uplifting effect on the mind.

  • Pregnant women should avoid leaf oil. The high content of eugenol causes a skin irritation. Prolonged use can be toxic to the liver.  Eugenol slows down the platelets in the blood delaying blood clotting. Therefore, do not use leaf oil if you have hemophilia and do not use it with Heparin and Aspirin.

 

Ceylon cinnamon bark essential oil

Properties:

  • strong antiseptic
  • antibacterial, antiviral, fungicide
  • stimulates immune response (immunostimulant) and body warmth
  • induces labor and promotes menstrual flow (emmenagogue)
  • slightly prevents the clotting of blood (slight anticoagulant)
  • aids slightly with the relief of pain (weak analgesic)
  • greatly increases sexual desires (strong aphrodisiac).

Indications:

  • infections and fever caused by tropical parasites
  • cold, flu, chills
  • infections of the stomach and intestines
  • intestinal worms
  • failure to pass stool or gas (obstipation)
  • diarrhea
  • impotence, frigidity
  • muscle fatigue.
  • Pregnant women should avoid bark oil. Always use the correct dosage which should be 1% or less. Bark oil greatly irritates the skin and sensitive people can develop dermatitis because of using this oil. To be on the safe side, combine bark oil with citrus oils obtained from flowers or leaves, such as, Neroli, as citrus tends to buffer the effects of eugenol. Avoid combining bark oil with citrus oils from the peel as they cause photosensitivity and photodermatitis. Never use it on facial skin. British aromatherapists don’t use bark oil.

Cassia (also common and Indonesian) cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) oil contains no eugenol and higher amounts of coumarin. Because of it moderate toxicity and use as a pesticide, authorities in Europe and the USA subjected coumarin to many restrictions.

Culinary Use

Cinnamon bark is used as a spice to flavor chocolate, apple pie, donuts, cinnamon buns, toast, candies, coffee, tea, hot cocoa, cereals, and liqueurs.

In India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, it is used to flavor food and tea. In the Middle East, it is used to spice up savory dishes of chicken and lamb. It is also used in Persian and Turkish cuisines.

According to the US National Library of Medicine and the European Food Safety Authority the daily intake of common cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) should not exceed 0.1 mg/kg body weight. This is because of the high amount of coumarin.

Reference

Zimmermann, Eliane. Aromatherapie für Pflege-und Heilberufe. Kursbuch für Ausbildung und Praxis – 5th edition Haug, 2011. ISBN 978-3-8304-7414-2

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