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September 04, 2023
With the arrival of September, in the Northern Hemisphere we are thinking about the Fall. We continue to have hot days but the nights are cooling off to be the perfect temperature. Garden ornaments of scarecrows, nuts and hay bales are hitting the shelves. My local grocery store has a display of hay and pinecones scented very strongly of cinnamon. As one of the essential oils often associated with the Fall but with strong ties to the sun, this is the perfect month to go over the options you may find on your local store shelves and how different cinnamon oils may help you… or not! Take a jump onto this scented hay wagon and ride along with me as we explore one of the spiciest oils and why you may want to add it to your pantry.
Cinnamon is not just any spice; it is a captivating entity with a story to tell. Cinnamon is a hot oil and although very useful in aromatherapy, some species come with safety guidelines that make them not safe for use on the body, but we'll get to that.
Muscle aches: Cinnamon is known as a “hot” oil. Together with its anti-inflammatory properties, cinnamon is a valuable ally in enhancing circulation and soothing body aches when used in low doses. Create a massage oil for achy joints in cold, damp weather.
Decongestion: Renowned herbalist Hildegard von Bingen considered cinnamon a "universal spice for the sinuses," highlighting its holistic wellness properties. Use it in a diffuser to cleanse the air in your space.
Cold and Flu Season: Cinnamon has been a long trusted companion in times of crisis. Medieval grave robbers used it to boost health and ward off illness and plague, demonstrating its reputation as a guardian of well-being. Diffuse it to help with cold season.
Digestive aid: Cinnamon's carminative function is a valuable asset in combating gas and bloating. It aids in soothing digestive discomfort and promoting overall gut health. Create a soothing tummy oil by mixing 2 drops of cinnamon, 2 drops of peppermint and 1 drop of ginger into 1 ounce of carrier oil.
Cognition: Cinnamon is not just a remedy for the body; it also nurtures the mind. Its calming properties can reduce nervous tension and enhance mental cognition, making it an excellent choice for blends to boost productivity during the workday or while studying. It may even improve memory function.
Uplift your mood: As an uplifting oil, cinnamon's warm, inviting aroma may provide relief from depression and exhaustion.
Cinnamon's virtues extend beyond humans; Its scent, while delightful to us, isn’t liked by many insects. Add 2-3 drops on our clay diffuser and place the diffuser in your closet or drawers to help keep moths and other unwanted critters at bay.
Cinnamon has long been revered as an aphrodisiac, igniting passion and desire. It finds mention in the ancient scriptures, such as Proverbs, where it is used to set the mood for love and intimacy. “I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come, let's drink deeply of love till morning; let's enjoy ourselves with love!” Proverbs 7, 17,18
Historically, cinnamon was equated with prosperity and wealth, so much so that it was considered as valuable as gold. Legend has it that the Emperor Nero expended a year's worth of the empire's cinnamon imports to honor his wife Poppaea Sabina's funeral.
Cinnamon played a pivotal role in the creation of Kyphi, a sacred ancient incense with mystical properties. It was believed to aid sleep, induce vivid dreams, and pave the way for a harmonious afterlife. Rather than a specific recipe, it is thought that Kyphi was a type of incense. One of the earliest recipes of kyphi, (circa 1500 BC), is thought to have been used to scent the house and clothing.
The Greek philosopher, Plutarch, is said to have visited Egypt in the first century BC. According to Plutarch, Egyptian temples burned incense three times per day; frankincense at dawn, myrrh at midday, and Kyphi at dusk.
The ancient Egyptians also employed it in their embalming practices.
Cinnamon is corelated to fire magic due to its spiciness. It is also associated with the sun and therefore with healing, protection, energy and rebirth. In the realm of mythology, it is said that phoenix birds construct their nests from cinnamon, further symbolizing renewal and rebirth.
Cinnamon is healing for the root chakra and solar plexus chakra. It brings a warm energy into the space and is therefore good for healing sorrow, and brings warmth into the heart chakra. It is an oil of courage.
It is energetically protective and is one of the oils used in my Florida Water recipe.
Cinnamon has been used on the ritual fire at Yule to do away with the old and bring in the new. Use it in this way to begin a new cycle for your goals. This will be especially useful if you are goal setting at the time of the new moon.
I have heard it said that warming cinnamon sticks in the oven before an open house starts will help the house to sell, although diffusing the essential oil will create the same effect. Some realtors have even posted this suggestion on their website. Scent is very closely associated with our emotions and the scent of cinnamon provides a warm and inviting atmosphere to guests.
There are over 250 species of cinnamon in the genus Cinnamomum. Cinnamon bark and cinnamon leaf essential oils come to us from the tree Cinnamomum zeylanicum, (or Cinnamomum vervun, both referring to the same tree) also known as true cinnamon. This tree grows in tropical regions with good rain, The bark coils itself into rolls when it is dried out
Here are the three most common species that you will find on shelves.
Main component: (may contain 65 – 85% cinnamaldehyde)
Steam distilled from the bark, this essential oil belongs to the chemical family of aldehydes. Some of its therapeutic properties include:
Cinnamon bark oil is too hot to use topically. The best use of this oil is to diffuse it for cleansing the air in your space or add it to a DIY potpourri. You can also use it as a green cleaner to dispel mould and insects in the bathroom, combine cinnamon bark lemon and clove essential oils, with baking soda and unscented liquid soap. However, do not use this mixture on porous surfaces (granite, marble, stone or terrazzo) as it may harm the surface.
Main component: (may contain 70-85% eugenol). Clove essential oil is also high in eugenol which accounts for a similar scent between these two oils.
Steam distilled from the leaves, this essential oil belongs to the chemical family of phenols. Phenols are considered to be the strongest skin irritants. Some of its therapeutic properties include:
When used in very low dilution, cinnamon leaf can be used in a blend for body aches to provide a sense of warming.
Safety first. Eugenol is an anticoagulant so this oil should not be used with those who have blood clotting disorders. Not to be used with those who have liver concerns.
Main component: (may contain up to 69% cinnamaldehyde).
Steam distilled from leaves, twigs or bark, cassia belongs to the chemical family of aldehydes. It is a warming oil that will share many of the same properties as cinnamon bark.
It is also known as Chinese Cinnamon. Its first recorded use in China dates back to the Han Dynasty (200 BCE - 200 CE).
In Exodus 30, 23, Moses was ordered to use both Cinnamon (Kinnamon) and Cassia (Qesia) together with Myrrh, Sweet Calamus and Olive Oil to produce a holy oil with which to anoint the Ark of the Covenant.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus, 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.
(If one shekel is approximately 11 grams, and one hin is approximately 5.7 litres, that is a lot of anointing oil!)
Safety first. The high coumarin content can be an issue with cassia, as coumarin is a known to cause liver damage.
Apart from the safety concerns already mentioned, the following needs to be kept in mind when using cinnamon essential oil:
Cinnamon is indeed a treasure trove of benefits, offering a multitude of uses for muscle aches, digestion, mental clarity, depression and beyond. From wellness and memory enhancement to insect repellent and emotional well-being, this spice has earned its place as a cherished and versatile part of our lives, and remains one of the most expensive spices today.
Battaglia, Salvatore, Complete guide to aromatherapy, Vol lll - Psyche & Subtle, Black Pepper Creative Pty Ltd., Zillmere QLD, 2021
Franklin, Anna, The Herbal Witch’s Kitchen Herbal, Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd, Woodbury, MN, 2019
Proverbs 7, 17, 18
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