Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil Benefits: Your Complete Guide
The cinnamon plant originated in Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka), and the first mention of cinnamon in literature is found in Chinese writings from 2800 BC.
Eventually, cinnamon was highly valued as a spice in medieval Europe, being valued more than silver in weight. This is because medieval medical professionals recognized the medicinal potential of cinnamon. The spice and other parts of the cinnamon plant were used in medicinal preparations to treat issues such as digestive problems, colds, flu, and dental issues.
Scientific interest in cinnamon heightened after the 19th century when cinnamaldehyde was identified as the main aromatic and flavor compound in the plant. Since then, the chemical components and their therapeutic properties of cinnamon leaf, bark, and other parts have been identified.
This article explores the medicinal and therapeutic potential of cinnamon leaf essential oil, and how it compares with essential oils derived from other cinnamon species.
Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil Extraction and Characteristics
Cinnamon leaf essential oil is derived from the leaves of the Cinnamomum zeylancium plant, an evergreen that belongs to the Lauraceae plant family. The Lauraceae (or the laurel plant) family is known for its aromatic oil glands and includes species such as bay and camphor.
The essential oil is extracted through the steam distillation process which involves steam being passed through the cinnamon leaves. The volatile compounds in the cinnamon leaves are vaporized and extracted in oil form. The oil appears yellow to yellow-brown and has a sweet, warm aroma with a hint of spice.
Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil Chemical Profile
The chemical composition of cinnamon leaf essential oil is rich in resinous compounds including cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, eugenol, and linalool. Often, eugenol is reported to consist of between 70-85 percent of the essential oil content.
Eugenol is an organic compound that has been extensively studied for its pharmacological properties. It was popularly used in traditional medicine as a local antiseptic, applied directly to the skin. According to modern scientific research, eugenol has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and analgesic properties.
The compound cinnamaldehyde is a flavonoid that is responsible for imparting the cinnamon leaf essential oil with its aroma and flavor. The compound is also found in other plant species in the Lauraceae family and is particularly known for its anti-inflammatory activity. This property makes cinnamaldehyde potentially useful in managing symptoms of health conditions that are worsened by inflammation, such as arthritis and heartburn. In addition, the compound is also shown to exhibit anti-tyrosinase activity, reducing melanin accumulation in the skin.
Another important organic compound that makes up the chemical composition of cinnamon leaf essential oil is linalool. It is a monoterpenoid that has demonstrated pharmacological benefits. It is a sedative and anxiolytic, reducing the perceptions of stress and relaxing the nerves.
In smaller quantities, cinnamyl acetate is present in cinnamon essential oil, and it is an ester that is found in steam-distilled cinnamon leaf essential oil. The compound adds a sweet, floral fragrance to the oil. In terms of the bioactive effects, it imparts insecticidal properties to the essential oil.
Cinnamon Leaf Vs. Bark Essential Oil
When purchasing cinnamon essential oil, you’ll find two types of essential oils: one derived from the leaf and one derived from the bark. Both essential oils are extracted from parts of the same Cinnamonum zeylancium plant, but their chemical constituents are different. This results in differences in aroma and therapeutic properties.
Cinnamon essential oil derived from the leaf has eugenol as its main component along with cinemyl acetate and cinemaldehyde in smaller quantities. These components give the essential oil potentially anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
On the other hand, cinnamon bark essential oil consists primarily of cinemaldehyde, constituting nearly 70 percent. The essential oil is also accompanied by benzylbenzoate and benzyldehyde in smaller amounts. This chemical make-up yields potentially anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.
However, the high percentage of cinemaldehyde makes cinnamon bark essential oil a dermal irritant, leading to irreversible skin damage if applied undiluted. As a result, cinnamon bark essential oil is not recommended for use in skincare, unless used in very small amounts.
In terms of scent, cinnamon bark essential oil has a stronger cinnamon aroma in comparison with cinnamon leaf essential oil. This is because it contains a greater proportion of cinemaldehyde, the chemical responsible for the characteristic scent of cinnamon. While cinnamon leaf essential oil also has a warm and spicy quality, its cinnamon essence is more subdued.
Overall, both the cinnamon bark and cinnamon leaf essential oils have important medicinal applications. However, cinnamon bark essential oil is a dermal irritant and has to be diluted at 0.05 percent before it is used topically. It is also not safe for use by pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil Medicinal Benefits
The medicinal benefits of cinnamon essential oil are attributed to the superstar chemical constituents present. The oil has a wide array of uses from being used in skincare to being used in aromatherapy for an aphrodisiac effect. The following sections discuss how cinnamon leaf essential oil can be used in different applications and how the use is supported by modern research.
Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil for Skin
Cinnamon essential oil is commonly used in home remedies to improve skin. It is also commonly found listed as an ingredient in skincare formulations. It possesses several pharmacological properties that make it effective for managing skin concerns such as acne, dullness, and signs of aging.
According to a review study conducted on the bioactive potential of Cinnamomum zeylancium essential oil, the essential oil exhibits significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This may help reduce symptoms of sun damage such as sun spots, wrinkles, and fine lines.
Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress on skin cells, preventing the skin from skin pigmentation and loss of elasticity. Compounding this effect, anti-inflammatory phenolic compounds reduce free radicals in the skin, further safeguarding from the skin aging effects of oxidative stress.
This effect is further enhanced by the collagen-promoting capabilities of cinnamon leaf extract. A study conducted in 2008 confirmed applying cinnamon leaf extract topically can increase collagen levels in the skin. Cinnamaldehyde is the main active compound that is responsible for this effect, impacting the skin at both genetic and protein levels without harming skin cells.
Apart from this, cinnamon leaf essential oil has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties. It has the potential to guard the skin against bacterial and fungal infections while calming down redness and irritation.
You can use cinnamon leaf essential oil topically by diluting it in a carrier oil, or adding it to your skincare products. Be sure to patch test the diluted essential oil before use as it may cause skin irritation in some individuals.
Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil for Sexual Wellness
In Chinese traditional medicine, cinnamon oil was thought to have a warming effect that was used to enhance the body’s energy and sexual desire. Similarly, cinnamon was associated with love in many other ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
While no clinical trials on humans have been conducted to confirm the use of cinnamon leaf essential oil as an aphrodisiac, its chemical constituents suggest potential support for this application. Eugenol, a compound found in abundance in cinnamon leaf essential oil, has been demonstrated to increase sexual activity in male rats. A 2004 study showed support for claims made in traditional medicine regarding the use of cinnamon to enhance sexual wellness.
To use cinnamon leaf essential oil as an aphrodisiac, diffuse it in your room and create a relaxing atmosphere. You can also make your own blend to enhance the effect of cinnamon leaf essential oil by adding vanilla and saffron essential oils to the diffuser. Another way to enjoy the effects of cinnamon leaf essential oil in the bedroom is to use it in a massage oil. The aroma will serve to evoke sensuality while promoting blood flow.
Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil for Pain Relief
Among its potential uses, cinnamon essential oil has gained attention in medical research for its application as a natural analgesic, as it has anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and anti-nociceptive properties. A 2022 study demonstrates how topically applied cinnamon leaf extract has the potential to be used as an analgesic drug. The essential oil inhibits inflammation and reduces the pain that accompanies conditions such as arthritis, muscle soreness, and joint discomfort.
The compounds eugenol and cinnamaldehyde are most active in aiding pain relief. Additionally, the study showed promise for the use of cinnamon leaf essential oil for treating nociceptive pain: discomfort caused by physical injury and damage to tissues.
Another research trial investigated the effect of cinnamon leaf extract on migraine attacks. The results of the study demonstrated that the levels of certain inflammation and pain-causing substances decreased after they received cinnamon leaf extract. After consistent and prolonged use, participants also reported a lower frequency of migraines with less intensity.
For easing pain and reducing physical discomfort caused by injuries, cinnamon leaf essential oil can be used both topically and through aromatherapy. If the pain is caused by inflammation of the tissues of physical pain, apply diluted essential oil to the affected area. For nerve pain, add cinnamon leaf essential oil to your diffuser and relax.
Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil for Stress and Anxiety
Cinnamon leaf essential oil offers a natural way to manage stress and anxiety. Aromatherapy using this essential oil can have anti-depressive, anti-anxiety, and relaxing effects. A 2017 scientific study identified cinnamaldehyde as the active component responsible for these properties. Results showed that regular use of cinnamon essential oil for two weeks may improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
Another study conducted in 2022 provided support for this finding by discovering the mechanism of action that cinnamon leaf essential oil has. Cinnamon leaf essential oil was found to affect beta-waves in the brain. An increase in the activity of beta waves can lead to an inability to relax and may also increase stressful feelings. Inhaling cinnamon essential oil can help de-stress by moderating the beta-wave activity.
Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil Safety Guide
When used carefully, cinnamon essential oil does not present any significant side effects.
Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when using this essential oil:
- When using cinnamon leaf essential oil topically, remember to dilute it in a carrier oil and patch test it before use
- Patch test cinnamon leaf essential oil before use as it contains cinnamaldehyde and eugenol which can be irritating for the skin and mucous membranes
- For aromatherapy use, diffuse cinnamon leaf essential oil in a well-ventilated area
- Ensure that you are not allergic to cinnamon and any of its parts as they may cause an adverse reaction
- Always consult your healthcare professional before using cinnamon oil as a support for medical treatment
Final Words on Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil’s Benefits
Cinnamon leaf essential oil has versatile bioactive properties that aid its use in multiple applications. To enhance your experience using cinnamon essential oil, you can pair it with other essential oils to create a synergistic blend. Also, make sure to only buy cinnamon leaf essential oil from a trusted supplier, like Wholesale Botanics, so you can be sure you’re getting a safe and effective product.
In terms of aroma, essential oils with a warm quality blend well with cinnamon leaf essential oil, such as clove, cardamom, black pepper and ginger. To brighten up your blend, consider adding a citrus essential oil, such as bergamot or sweet orange.