Ask an Aromatherapist: Are Cinnamon Leaf and Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil Interchangeable?

November 2, 2017

 

As the weather cools the warming spices of winter begin to fill the air, including cinnamon. When you purchase cinnamon essential oil you often see cinnamon bark and cinnamon leaf and since they have the same botanical name you may wonder are they the same thing?

 

Although these oils are both derived from the same plant (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) and both are good at fighting germs, are warming, and offer anti-spasmodic properties, they vary significantly in their oil chemistry. 

 

Cinnamon leaf oil is phenol rich and contains a significant amount of eugenol and a smaller amount of the aldehyde cinnamaldehyde. 

 

Cinnamon bark oil is high in cinnamaldehyde and contains smaller amounts of the eugenol. 

 

Eugenol has many beneficial properties. Cinnamon leaf oil (which is rich in eugenol) is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, and anti-fungal. Eugenol also has analgesic properties and has been shown to soothe aches for up to four hours. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and neuro-protective properties. Eugenol has been studied/researched more throughly than cinnamaldehyde.

 

Since phenols can be irritating cinnamon bark oil must be used with care. It should be diluted well if used in a topical application. Tisserand & Young ("Essential Oil Safety") recommend a maximal dermal use of 0.6%- 1%  (2 -5  drops per ounce of carrier). Cinnamon leaf can be used as a potent antimicrobial in a diffuser blend. Phenols are potent!  

 

Cinnamon bark is aldehyde rich. It has been shown to be effective against E. Coli, Candida albicans, and S. aureus. Cinnamon bark has proven useful for gastrointestinal issues. It has been used to calm spasms, soothe nausea, stimulate appetite, and soothe aches associated with colds and flu.

 

Being aldehyde rich it can also be very skin irritating and must be well diluted. Tisserand & Young recommend a maximum dermal dose of 0.05% (about 1 drop in 40 mls  based an aldehyde content of 75.7%). 

 

Energetically the oils vary. Cinnamon leaf is said to have an expansive energy and  can help us strech ourselves but feel as though we have a comforting safety net. Cinnamon bark is said to be nurturing and comforting like a warm blanket -- supporting us on a deep level. 

 

It's interesting how essential oils derived from different plant parts of the same species can vary. Both oils would be great in diffuser blends to fight germs but each fight germs a little differently. Cinnamon leaf has been shown to be effective at soothing aches (eugenol has been shown to fight pain up to 4 hours) and cinnamon bark is useful for digestive issues. Both are powerful oils that can be very helpful during the fall and winter months.

 

A delightful diffuser blend that can also fight germs might include a drop of either cinnamon leaf or bark, a few drops of orange, and a drop of rosemary or lemon. Or a small amount incorporated into a cream or butter for digestive support or to reduce an ache. 

 

If you have questions about essential oils or how to use them contact Tricia

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