When it comes to essential oils, cinnamon feels pretty what-you-smell-is-what-you-get. Thanks to its aromatic ubiquity in things like candles, baking, and other facets of life in general, cinnamon essential oil feels warm and familiar, like an old friend. But, before you douse everything around you with the stuff, take a beat, because while there are definitely some cinnamon essential oil benefits you can enjoy, this is definitely an oil to use sparingly.
Remember that viral (and completely dangerous and ill-advised) cinnamon challenge where in its inexplicably hard (if not impossible) to ingest a spoonful of ground cinnamon? That’s an extreme version of the less-is-more concept in play when it comes to cinnamon: A sprinkling of cinnamon is lovely, but the whole bottle? Not so much. Same goes with the intense but lovely bottle of cinnamon essential oil. So, to help you best use the power you yield with a bottle of the powerful essential oil, below find your guide to cinnamon essential oil benefits, including how to best use it without going overboard.
What is cinnamon essential oil?
Perhaps we were getting ahead of ourselves, so first, let’s get clear on the basics: Cinnamon essential oil is, drumroll, please, essential oil made from cinnamon. But, there are two variations that you want to look out for.
“Cinnamon essential oil is steam distilled either from the leaf or the bark of the cinnamon bush or tree,” says Amy Galper, certified aromatherapist and educator at the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies. “The leaf tends to be less irritating to the skin and lungs, while the bark oil can cause severe irritation that presents like a burn.”
How to use cinnamon essential oil
Knowing what cinnamon essential oil is period is great, but how to use it best is a whole other question. In practice, it basically means using discretion and respect to your body. “The best way to use cinnamon oil is very cautiously. Cinnamon oil is best used in a blend with other essential oils that are soothing to the skin, like sweet orange oil, lavender oil, tea tree oil, patchouli oil, and geranium oil,” says Galper. Otherwise, “it will most definitely irritate the skin, eyes and lungs if inhaled directly or applied directly to the skin.”
“Cinnamon oil is best used in a blend with other essential oils that are soothing to the skin, like sweet orange oil, lavender oil, tea tree oil, patchouli oil, and geranium oil.” —Amy Galper, certified aromatherapist
So when diffusing, it’s best practice to understand cinnamon as a team player and not the sole scent (and even then, don’t leave the blend running all day). Still, even though you don’t necessarily want to apply cinnamon oil straight onto your skin, it could be a potent addition to your next massage.
“Cinnamon is also very warming and great for muscle aches and pains, so a drop could be added to a massage oil for a warming stimulating massage,” Galper says. Emphasis on “a drop,” though, because Galper adds that cinnamon oil can be hyper-stimulating on the skin if you’re not careful. She recommends one drop per ounce of carrier oil, as to not overwhelm and cause potential harm.
5 cinnamon essential oil benefits
“Cinnamon essential oil—either from the leaf or the bark—is composed of molecules that have been shown to combat microbes and pathogens, which is what it is often used in formulas that ward off germs and are antiseptic, antimicrobial, anti-infectious, and immune-supportive,” says Galper. And that sounds rad (not that any of us were doubting the sheer power of cinnamon oil at this point). But, uh, with all the aforementioned safety measures in place, how can all of us actually reap those cinnamon essential oil benefits IRL? Well, let’s break that down:
1. It can improve circulation
According to research, cinnamon has been historically used for improving blood circulation, which is part of why the stuff can make for an ideal massage oil. As it’s glided on, it can help to release muscle tenseness in the body. To play it safe, just make sure to use it with a carrier oil, like jojoba oil, rosehip oil, or coconut oil.
2. It is highly antibacterial
As Galper points out, cinnamon essential oil is anti-…well, a lot of things, but it’s particularly been proven to be strongly antibacterial. A very interesting focus where cinnamon essential oil has been studied is in relation to food spoilage, although I wouldn’t use it to flavor your slightly-past-the-expiration-date chicken just yet. Still, since there’s evidence supporting its efficacy in fighting off superbugs, perhaps this is an ingredient to consider in a home cleaner.
3. It can be used for mouth health
Certain research suggests that cinnamon oil could be beneficial for oral health, such as for preventing cavities, fungal infections, and thrush. One study comparing the impact of cinnamon essential oil and clove essential oil showed cinnamon had potential for reducing tooth decay and dental plaque. But if you go that route, use cautiously; cinnamon essential oil is firmly on the “do not swallow” list. It might be more impactful in a DIY mouthwash.
4. It may provide cold relief
If you’re feeling especially stuffed up, the warming aroma of cinnamon oil via diffuser can be a helpful aid for opening up the throat and nostrils.
5. It may help you fight brain fog
Some research suggests cinnamon could be potentially be useful in fighting neurological disorders and heart disease. If that sounds a little too far-fetched, it’s probably just safe to say that cinnamon oil is a cognitive enhancer and can help fight brain fog.
How to add cinnamon essential oil to your daily life
Overall, the idea of using cinnamon essential oil all day, every day seems a little impractical (considering the safety precautions it calls for). That said, there are definitely ways to weave it into your life. Galper suggests that it’s “best to use in aromatic mists to purify the air,” in one of those blends that can conjure a sense of spiciness without being overpowering. She also suggests that you can use cinnamon essential oil in a homemade hand cleanser. Keeping to that strict one-drop rule, you can have a cinnamon-essential-oil-infused cleanser for those days when you’ve been getting serious finger cramps from typing so much (just me?) thanks to its circulation-improving properties.
To sum it up, cinnamon essential oil can definitely be a friend to you, but the kind that’s best for group activities with other essential oils and/or heavily diluted…and in small doses.