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Cinnamon Essential Oil

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Updated May 14, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Cinnamon essential oil is a type of essential oil that is sometimes used in aromatherapy. Typically sourced from the bark or leaves of the cinnamon tree, cinnamon essential oil is said to offer a variety of health benefits.

Cinnamon essential oil contains a number of compounds thought to influence health. These compounds include cinnamaldehyde, which has been found to reduce inflammation and act as an antimicrobial (a substance that destroys or suppresses the growth of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi).

Uses for Cinnamon Essential Oil

Cinnamon essential oil is touted as a natural remedy for the following health problems:

In addition, cinnamon essential oil is said to stimulate circulation, reduce stress, relieve pain, improve digestion, and protect against insect bites.

Benefits of Cinnamon Essential Oil

To date, research on the health effects of aromatherapeutic use of cinnamon essential oil is very limited. However, a number of studies suggest that compounds found in cinnamon essential oil may offer certain health benefits.

For example, preliminary findings from laboratory studies and animal-based research indicate that compounds found in cinnamon essential oil may help destroy Streptococcus mutans (a type of bacteria closely linked to the development of cavities), promote widening of the blood vessels (and, in turn, possibly aid in the treatment of high blood pressure), and control diabetes (in part by regulating blood sugar levels).

It's important to note that none of the above studies tested the aromatherapeutic use of cinnamon essential oil. It should also be noted that ingestion of cinnamon essential oil may have harmful effects.

Cinnamon vs. Cinnamon Essential Oil

While there is currently a lack of scientific support for the purported benefits of aromatherapeutic use of cinnamon essential oil, some studies indicate that consuming the herb cinnamon may have beneficial effects.

For instance, a 2003 study published in Diabetes Care found that taking cinnamon supplements every day for 40 days reduced blood sugar and cholesterol levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. The study included only 60 participants, and larger studies are needed before cinnamon can be recommended for diabetes management.

How to Use Cinnamon Essential Oil

When combined with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado), cinnamon essential oil can be applied directly to the skin or added to baths.

Cinnamon essential oil also can be inhaled after sprinkling a few drops of the oil onto a cloth or tissue, or by using an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.

Safety

Cinnamon essential oil should not be taken internally without the supervision of a health professional. Internal use of cinnamon essential oil may have toxic effects.

In addition, some individuals may experience irritation and/or allergic reactions when applying cinnamon essential oil to the skin.

It's also important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with cinnamon essential oil and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Pregnant women and children should consult their primary health care providers prior to using essential oils.

Learn more about how to use cinnamon essential oil safely.

Where To Find Cinnamon Essential Oil

Here are some tips on purchasing essential oils.

Widely available for purchase online, cinnamon essential oil is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in self-care products.

Sources

Chao LK, Hua KF, Hsu HY, Cheng SS, Liu JY, Chang ST. "Study on the antiinflammatory activity of essential oil from leaves of Cinnamomum osmophloeum." J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Sep 7;53(18):7274-8.

Chaudhari LK, Jawale BA, Sharma S, Sharma H, Kumar CD, Kulkarni PA. "Antimicrobial activity of commercially available essential oils against Streptococcus mutans." J Contemp Dent Pract. 2012 Jan 1;13(1):71-4.

Subash Babu P, Prabuseenivasan S, Ignacimuthu S. "Cinnamaldehyde--a potential antidiabetic agent." Phytomedicine. 2007 Jan;14(1):15-22.

Tung YT, Yen PL, Lin CY, Chang ST. "Anti-inflammatory activities of essential oils and their constituents from different provenances of indigenous cinnamon (Cinnamomum osmophloeum) leaves." Pharm Biol. 2010 Oct;48(10):1130-6. doi: 10.3109/13880200903527728.

Xue YL, Shi HX, Murad F, Bian K. "Vasodilatory effects of cinnamaldehyde and its mechanism of action in the rat aorta." Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2011;7:273-80. doi: 10.2147/VHRM.S15429.

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