Beyond its wonderful scent and flavor, cinnamon bark oil also offers an array of therapeutic and healing benefits. Here's what you need to know about this essential oil.
What Is Cinnamon Bark Oil?
Cinnamon bark oil is obtained from the bark of trees that belong to the Cinnamomum species (also called Cinnamon zeylanicum), which comprise more than 250 aromatic evergreen trees and shrubs all throughout Asia and Australia, although it is native to Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India.1 Cassia oil, sassafras and Ho leaf oils fall under the same category.
Cinnamon bark oil is quite rare and expensive. From 1983 to 1992, exports from Sri Lanka, which was virtually the only major supplier of cinnamon bark oil, only reached 2.8 tons.2 Western Europe, especially France, is the major importer of cinnamon bark oil, followed by the United States.3
Uses of Cinnamon Bark Oil
Cinnamon bark oil has a delicate aroma and a sweet, pungent taste. It is typically used as a flavoring in toothpaste to hide the disagreeable taste of pyrophosphate, a compound that inhibits plaque calcification. In Ayurvedic medicine, cinnamon bark was used as an antiemetic, antidiarrheal, antiflatulant, and a general stimulant. Today, cinnamon bark oil has been proven to naturally:4
• Lower cholesterol
• Kill bacteria
• Heal wounds
• Control blood sugar levels5
• Relieve stomach flu caused by harmful bacteria like salmonella6
Because of its honeyed taste and smell, cinnamon bark oil is frequently added in meat and fast food seasonings, sauces and pickles, baked goods, confectionery, cola-type beverages, and tobacco. However, cinnamon bark oil is seldom used as a main ingredient in perfumes and soaps because it has skin-sensitizing properties.
Composition of Cinnamon Bark Oil
Cinnamon bark oil has no less than 90 identified compounds and over 50 minute unidentified compounds.7 It contains about 65 to 75 percent cinnamon aldehyde and 4 to 10 percent eugenol compared to cinnamon leaf oil, which contains 70 to 75 percent eugenol and only 3 percent cinnamon aldehyde.8 Unlike cinnamon bark oil, cinnamon leaf oil gives off a warm, spicy and sometimes foul scent, and does not have a smooth consistency.
Usually, the higher the cinnamaldehyde content of the cinnamon bark oil, the higher its price. In the USA, the Essential Oil Association (EOA) standard specifies an aldehyde content of 55 to 78 percent.9 But there is no international standard set for cinnamon bark oil.
Cinnamon bark oil is significantly more expensive than cinnamon leaf oil and probably among all essential oils. In 1992, cinnamon bark oil was sold at $385 per kilogram (35.2 ounces), essentially due to the raw material's high cost. By 1993 and early 1994, it was so costly that dealers in London only quoted prices upon request. In 2017, an essential oil world market report quoted a price of $295 per kilo.10
Benefits of Cinnamon Bark Oil
Most therapeutic uses of cinnamon bark are rooted in its historical use as a traditional Chinese medicine. According to several studies, cinnamon bark oil can potentially help:
• Fight serious viral diseases like herpes11 and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)12
• Kill leukemia cancer cells as observed in animal testing due to the fungus Antrodia cinnamonea13
• Reverse the symptoms of Parkinson's disease14
• Treat fungal infections, including those caused by Candida albicans, Histoplasma capsulatum and Aspergillus niger, which is known to cause serious sinus infections
• Counter cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease,15 a severe form of dementia, which almost 5.54 million Americans are suffering from right now.16 Check out my article on Alzheimer's and discover how you can save yourself from this debilitating condition.
German health authorities approve the use of cinnamon bark oil for treating mild gastrointestinal spasms, stimulating appetite and relieving indigestion based on the positive results seen in animal studies.17
How to Make Infused Cinnamon Bark Oil
Cinnamon bark oil is made through steam distillation. In Sri Lanka, this high-value essential oil is produced by distilling the chips and variable amounts of featherings (pieces of inner bark from twigs and twisted shoots) and quillings (broken fragments of quills). Cinnamon bark oil can only be grown and produced in tropical countries, so the ones sold in the U.S. are mostly imported. This is why it's rather difficult to find in local stores, and may come with a hefty price tag.
A more practical alternative that I would recommend is to create your own essential oil using cinnamon sticks, which is simpler and more pocket-friendly. Here's how:
Infused Cinnamon Bark Oil
What You'll Need:
• Cinnamon sticks
• Wide-mouthed glass jar
• Extra-virgin olive oil
1. Fill the glass jar with cinnamon sticks without leaving any space, if possible.
2. Pour the extra-virgin olive oil into the glass jar, soaking the cinnamon sticks completely.
3. Seal the lid tightly.
4. Put in a warm place in your kitchen. Leave it there for three weeks.
5. During the three-week waiting period, shake the jar every day to release the oils from the cinnamon sticks and blend with the carrier oil.
6. After three weeks, your cinnamon oil infusion is ready.
7. Use a cheese cloth to filter out the sticks and other solid particles from your essential oil when transferring in a separate container. Keep at room temperature.
How Does Cinnamon Bark Oil Work?
To relieve stomach upset, a few drops of cinnamon bark oil in a hot cup of water or tea will do the trick. Nevertheless, I strongly suggest consulting your doctor or a natural health practitioner before taking cinnamon bark oil or any essential oil internally.
For aromatherapy applications, put a few drops of cinnamon bark oil in your diffuser along with a few of your favorite essential oils. Cinnamon bark oil blends well with bergamot, cardamom, clove, frankincense, ginger, grapefruit, lemon, mandarin, marjoram, nutmeg, orange, peppermint, peru balsam, petitgrain, rose, vanilla, coconut oil and ylang-ylang.18
Is Cinnamon Bark Oil Safe?
Cinnamon bark oil has cinnamonaldehyde which, in high amounts and when used improperly on a daily basis, can be toxic to your body.19 In addition, cinnamon bark oil has strong psychological effects, which could possibly cause adverse nervous system reactions. This is why it's highly recommended to blend it with other essential oils during oral, topical, and aromatherapy applications.
Cinnamon bark oil is relatively safe when used in small dosages and blended with mild carrier oils. Do not attempt to use it as an everyday supplement without an expert's advice, especially if you have an existing illness. Pregnant and nursing mothers should avoid using cinnamon bark oil or any form of essential oil as much as possible to avoid negative consequences.
Side Effects of Cinnamon Bark Oil
Cinnamon bark oil causes different reactions in different people, especially sensitive individuals. Here's a list of some of its reported side effects:
Dermocaustic effect (burning) on skin
Heart palpitations, especially when taken with coffee or black tea
While cinnamon bark oil provides heaps of health benefits, I highly recommend that you see a natural holistic practitioner before incorporating it into your treatment protocol, to stay on the safe side.