Beyond its alluring fragrance and spicy-sweet flavor, cinnamon provides many benefits for your health, such as its insulin-like effects, which can be useful for diabetics.1 But did you know that you can also get many of cinnamon's health benefits by using cinnamon leaf oil? Here are facts worth knowing about this oil.
What Is Cinnamon Leaf Oil?
Cinnamon leaf oil comes from Cinnamomum verum (also called Laurus cinnamomum and formerly known as C. zeylanicum2) from the Laurel (Lauraceae) plant family. This small and bushy evergreen tree is native to Sri Lanka and Southern India,3 but now grows in many countries such as Brazil, Egypt, Vietnam and Indonesia.4
The cinnamon tree can be distinguished by its small, white flowers, dark green leaves and purple oval berries.5 Its bark is about 10 millimeters thick and is very aromatic. On young shoots, the bark is pale brown and smooth, but on mature branches and stems, it becomes a darker brown or brownish-gray color, and with a rough texture.6
Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known to man. It was valued in ancient Egypt not only as a medicine and beverage flavoring, but also as an embalming agent and is also mentioned in the Bible. Cinnamon was so precious that it was considered more valuable than gold throughout some of its history.7
You've probably heard of cinnamon bark oil, but don't be confused — it's an entirely different product. Cinnamon bark oil is extracted from the outer bark of the tree,8 resulting in a potent essential oil that’s used for flavoring in foods, beverages and other pharmaceutical preparations. Cinnamon bark oil is extremely refined and therefore very expensive for everyday use, which is why many people settle for cinnamon leaf oil, as it's lighter, cheaper and ideal for regular use.9
Cinnamon leaf oil has a musky and spicy scent, and a light-yellow tinge that distinguishes it from the red-brown color of cinnamon bark oil.10
Uses of Cinnamon Leaf Oil
Cinnamon leaf oil can be used as an additive in soaps and a flavoring to seasonings.11 When used in aromatherapy — diffused, applied topically or added to your bath water — it can have health-promoting effects. Just remember that it can be a skin irritant, so it’s best to dilute with a mild essential oil or mix in your favorite cream, lotion or shampoo. Here are some ways to use cinnamon leaf oil for your health and around your home:
• Use it to clean your fruits and vegetables — Cinnamon leaf oil is known for its antibacterial and antioxidant properties. In a 2012 study published in Flavour and Fragrance Journal, applying an edible pectin film with cinnamon leaf oil not only reduced bacteria growth on fresh-cut peaches, but also increased their antioxidant status.12
A 2013 study also found that using cinnamon leaf oil as a vegetable wash may help eliminate salmonella from leafy greens, such as baby and mature spinach, and iceberg and romaine lettuces.13
• Use cinnamon leaf oil as an insect repellent — According to the "Green Pesticides Handbook," cinnamon leaf oil has good antitermitic (termite-repelling) properties, thanks mainly to its eugenol, cinnamaldehyde and a-terpineol content. It can help ward off rice weevils (S. oryzae), making it efficient as a stored paddy rice protectant. The book also notes that cinnamon essential oil may inhibit yellow fever-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.14
• Gargle as a mouthwash or use to ease toothaches — Cinnamon leaf oil may help keep your breath fresh and may serve as a first-aid treatment for toothaches.15 Add a drop or two to a glass of purified water, and gargle with it.
• Add it to your shampoo to kill head lice — Cinnamon leaf oil can help keep your hair healthy and, in children, may help kill stubborn head lice. A 1996 study found that this essential oil is efficient in eliminating Pediculus humanus, along with other oils like aniseed, nutmeg and peppermint.16
Composition of Cinnamon Leaf Oil
The oil extracted from cinnamon leaves contain phenols and beneficial components like eugenol, eugenol acetate, cinnamic aldehyde, linalool, and benzyl benzoate.17 It also has low levels of cinnamaldehyde, an excellent fragrance and flavoring agent,18 and the active component that can also help repel grain storage insects.19
Benefits of Cinnamon Leaf Oil
“The Essential Oils Complete Reference Guide” notes that cinnamon leaf oil has potent astringent, aphrodisiac and stimulant properties. It can work wonders as a quick pick-me-up or stress buster after a long and tiring day, or if you want to soothe your aching muscles and joints.
This oil has a warm and antispasmodic effect on your body that helps ease muscular aches, sprains, rheumatism and arthritis. It's also a tonic that assists in reducing drowsiness and gives you an energy boost if you're physically and mentally exhausted.20
How to Make Cinnamon Leaf Oil
Cinnamon leaf oil, which is more delicate than cinnamon bark oil, is produced via steam or water distillation. The leathery green leaves are pruned from the trees and then left to dry for several days. Afterward, they go through a special water-steam distillation machine that extracts the oil.
Cinnamon leaf oil can also be distilled via traditional methods, where a huge wooden vessel is fitted with a copper head on top that holds as much as 200 kilograms (441 pounds) of dried cinnamon leaves. The vessel is then placed in a wood-fired boiler that produces the steam for distillation.21
How Does Cinnamon Leaf Oil Work?
The phenols in cinnamon leaves give cinnamon leaf oil its rejuvenating and health-promoting quality. Cinnamon leaf oil contains 70 to 96 percent phenols,22 mainly eugenol, which is responsible for its many beneficial properties. However, cinnamon leaf oil may irritate your skin, so make sure it’s diluted before using it topically.23
Is Cinnamon Leaf Oil Safe?
When applying cinnamon leaf oil topically, I advise blending it with safe carrier oils, such as coconut oil, olive oil or almond oil. It also blends well with other spice oils, citrus oils and herbal oils. Try using it with bergamot, thyme, eucalyptus and sweet orange oils.24
Check and make sure that you don't have any allergic reactions to cinnamon leaf oil before using it. You can do this by performing a skin patch test: Apply a small amount of diluted cinnamon leaf oil on your skin and see if any allergic reactions occur.
I also recommend pregnant women and nursing mothers to avoid using cinnamon leaf oil, as it has emmenagogue effects, meaning it may induce menstruation, which is dangerous for the unborn child.25 Avoid administering the oil on very young children, too.
Side Effects of Cinnamon Leaf Oil
Use cinnamon oil in moderation and properly diluted, as high dosages may lead to convulsions in some individuals.26 If this symptom occurs, stop using the oil and consult a health care practitioner immediately.
Source: mercola rss