Whilst all essential oils are highly concentrated, cinnamon oil is regarded as being particularly potent, although when properly diluted it still has a host of health properties to offer.
More than 100 varieties of cinnamon are grown around the world, with each type possessing varying levels of antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities.
Cinnamon was reportedly imported to Egypt as early as 2000 BC, where it was first used to embalm mummies, before becoming something of a precious and much sought-after commodity.
Whilst these days cinnamon is more commonly used as a food flavouring, in aromatherapy circles it is lauded for its health-boosting abilities.
From supporting heart health and treating ulcers, to fighting bacteria and boosting skin health, we examine how cinnamon oil benefits the mind and body.
What is cinnamon oil?
Cinnamon essential oil is extracted from the outer bark (and sometimes the leaves) of Cinnamomum trees that are native to South Asia.
Oil sourced from the bark is usually preferred to the oil extracted from leaves as its spiciness is more potent.
This is also true when the oil is compared to the dried spice alternative.
The sweet and warming scent of cinnamon essential oil makes it a favourite for aromatherapy lovers, and because it contains antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it can be used in a host of health-positive applications.
How does cinnamon oil work?
Uses of cinnamon oil vary, with some people preferring to focus on its aromatherapeutic benefits to ease feelings of depression and exhaustion, whilst it is also believed to strengthen immunity and even boost libido.
When applied topically, cinnamon essential oil may be able to improve skin health by slowing the signs of ageing by reviving and refreshing skin tone.
Medicinally, cinnamon oil also has its benefits, which includes an ability to offer pain relief, reduce inflammation and eliminate certain strains of bacteria.
What are the benefits of cinnamon oil?
The benefits of cinnamon essential oil mean it may be able to:
1. Support heart health
Scientists looking into the benefits of cinnamon oil have found some evidence to suggest it contains heart-boosting properties.
This is based on a 2014 study  that demonstrated how a combination of cinnamon bark oil and aerobic exercise were able to rapidly improve heart performance.
Researchers also demonstrated that this pairing helped to lower LDL cholesterol - considered ‘bad’ cholesterol – and raise HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol.
It is also believed that cinnamon can promote nitric oxide production, which can help people with heart disease.
2. Boost skin and hair health
Due to its high concentration levels, cinnamon essential oil is incredibly potent and can have strong effects on the skin if not properly diluted.
When mixed with the correct amount of carrier oil and used sparingly, cinnamon oil can offer relief for acne and rashes.
In 2017, researchers found  that cinnamon oil’s anti-inflammatory properties were able to reduce redness and the overall appearance of affected areas.
Some people also believe that you can thicken hair by applying cinnamon oil, as it may be able to increase blood flow to the scalp, whilst also promoting growth.
3. Heal mouth ulcers
Cinnamon oil also possesses anti-bacterial properties that researchers have shown can reduce the appearance of mouth ulcers.
A 2003 study  demonstrated how cinnamon oil was able to effectively inhibit the growth of H.pylori, which is known to cause ulcers.
By actively reducing this type of bacteria, ulcer symptoms can be eased and reduced to offer relief.
The presence of a compound called eugenol is likely responsible for this outcome, which attacks the H.pylori bacteria to prevent it from flourishing.
4. Fight bacteria, parasites and fungi
According to a 2014 study,  cinnamon oil may be effective at treating the parasite giardiasis, a common protozoal infection largely found in children.
The aim of the research was to source natural alternatives to metronidazole (MTZ), a chemical treatment which was losing its sensitivities for the treatment of giardiasis.
Additional research was carried out in 2016,  which suggested that parasites responsible for causing malaria could be effectively treated with cinnamon oil.
There are also suggestions that cinnamon oil may contain anti-fungal properties. Not only can it help to inhibit the growth of the candida fungus, but the anti-bacterial benefits of cinnamon oil allow it to combat certain antibiotic-resistant strains.
5. Make it easier to relax
Cinnamon oil benefits the mind as well as the body, which is why it remains a popular choice amongst those who practise aromatherapy.
When used in a diffuser or oil burner, cinnamon essential oil can work as an effective mood enhancer, helping to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
And, of course, cinnamon has a long tradition of being a festive favourite, evoking special memories and feelings of nostalgia, which can also support better relaxation.
Whether it’s used to calm and relax after a long day or as a sleeping aid to help you drift off more easily, cinnamon oil is a favourite for many people.
6. Stabilise blood sugar
The anti-diabetic effects of cinnamon are well documented, which explains why it is so often recommended to people with diabetes.
Research also indicates  that blood sugar levels can be lowered by cinnamon, whilst improving sensitivity to the hormone insulin.
As a result, this helps to balance sugar levels, as sugar is transported to the tissues from the bloodstream more easily.
According to a study published in 2011,  the activity of several digestive enzymes could be blocked by cinnamon, which after a high-carb meal, helps to slow the absorption rate of sugar in the bloodstream.
7. Safeguard brain function
In vitro studies  have shown that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease could be reduced by cinnamon, helping to block the buildup of a specific protein.
A 2014 animal model study  also demonstrated that cinnamon could offer protection against oxidative stress.
This helps to reduce the risk of cell damage and inflammation, which prevents cognitive decline and preserves brain function.
The presence of these antioxidants indicate that cinnamon possesses the ability to boost brain function, which could offer more protection against neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
8. Reduce cancer risk
The antioxidant abilities of cinnamon may enable it to offer protection against cell mutation, DNA damage and cancerous tumour growth.
This claim is based on studies  that have suggested cinnamon oil benefits are derived from a compound called cinnamaldehyde.
During their research, scientists found that it could inhibit tumour growth whilst also providing DNA protection and killing off cancer cells.
More recent research studies have shown that cinnamon can improve colon health,  which could prove useful in the fight against cancer in this part of the body.
9. Improve oral hygiene
You may also be able to improve oral hygiene  by using cinnamon, as its antibacterial properties can combat certain strains of bacteria responsible for cavities, tooth decay, bad breath and mouth infections.
This explains why cinnamon is often used as a natural remedy for dental problems, toothaches and mouth sores.
By removing oral bacteria, cinnamon can naturally fight bad breath, whilst ensuring no unwanted chemicals enter the body.
10. Fight free radicals
The formation and development of free radicals can be caused by internal and external factors, and the antioxidant benefits of cinnamon oil could offer some protection.
Studies have shown  that when compared to other oils such as ylang ylang, tea tree and thyme, cinnamon oil was able to provide the highest free radical scavenging activity.
Whilst damage caused by free radicals may not be immediately apparent on the skin, it can accumulate over time.
Applying diluted cinnamon oil to the skin may offer relief from skin dryness, uneven pigmentation, sagging, age lines and crepey skin.
How do you use cinnamon oil?
Cinnamon oil uses range from skin and hair to aromatherapy and even candle and soap recipes.
This gives you the freedom to try it:
As a bath treatment
If you love nothing more than a relaxing bath, then adding a few drops of cinnamon essential oil to warm bath water can elevate the whole experience.
Dilute 2-4 drops with a carrier oil and mix into bath water to soothe your mind and body.
If you are a first-time user, it’s a good idea to complete a patch test before trying this method.
As an aromatherapy remedy
To create a warm, comforting environment in your home during the colder months of the year, you could try diffusing cinnamon essential oil in a diffuser or oil burner.
Add 5-7 drops to the device and gradually let the sweet, festive aroma drift into the air to create a relaxing atmosphere that can help you to lower and manage stress and anxiety levels.
What is the history of cinnamon oil?
Cinnamon is one of the oldest and most valuable spices in the world, with records of use dating back to the Ancient Egyptians.
During this period, the spice was considered to be of equivalent or higher value than gold and was traditionally used in embalming and witchcraft practices like love potions.
Its sweet aroma has long seen it associated with good fortune, health and safeguarding, which explains why it is said to have been used by grave robbers in the 15th century as protection against the plague.
Cinnamon essential oil remains a firm favourite for fans of aromatherapy, and whilst it has lost some of its financial value, its health properties remain as precious as ever.
Cinnamon oil FAQs
Is traditional cinnamon oil the same as ceylon cinnamon essential oil?
The chemical makeup of cinnamon essential oil and Ceylon cinnamon essential oil are similar, with both containing phytochemicals and chemicals, such as eugenol and cinnamaldehyde.
However, they are sourced differently, with traditional cinnamon oil being extracted from the Cinnamomum cassia tree, whilst oil sourced from the Cinnamomum verum variety is known as Ceylon cinnamon essential oil.
What does cinnamon essential oil smell like?
Cinnamon essential oil has a sweet and spicy scent with woody undertones, offering a deep and long-lasting scent that feels warm and comforting.
This is why it is such a popular aromatherapy, helping people to relax and unwind, whilst also evoking special festive-time memories for some.
What are the risks of using cinnamon essential oil?
Cinnamon essential oil is generally considered safe to use, although due to its high concentration levels it can cause some sensitivity and allergic reactions for some people.
You should avoid applying cinnamon oil to sensitive parts of the body, such as the lips, nose, eyes and genitals and always follow dilution guidelines to reduce the risk of a reaction.
 Reza Badalzadeh et al. (2014) The Effect of Cinnamon Extract and Long-Term Aerobic Training on Heart Function, Biochemical Alterations and Lipid Profile Following Exhaustive Exercise in Male Rats https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4312399/
 Xuesheng Han et al. (2017) Antiinflammatory Activity of Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) Bark Essential Oil in a Human Skin Disease Model https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5518441/
 G. E. Bergonzelli et al. (2003) Essential Oils as Components of a Diet-Based Approach to Management of Helicobacter Infection https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC201172/
 Abeer MAHMOUD et al. (2014) Ginger and Cinnamon: Can This Household Remedy Treat Giardiasis? Parasitological and Histopathological Studies https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4345092/
 Shirin Parvazi et al. (2016) The Effect of Aqueous Extract of Cinnamon on the Metabolome of Plasmodium falciparum Using 1HNMR Spectroscopy https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4745969/
 Itsaraporn Utchariyakiat et al. (2016) Efficacy of cinnamon bark oil and cinnamaldehyde on anti-multidrug resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the synergistic effects in combination with other antimicrobial agents https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4888607/
 S Kirkham et al. (2009) The potential of cinnamon to reduce blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19930003/
 Sirichai Adisakwattana et al. (2011) Inhibitory activity of cinnamon bark species and their combination effect with acarbose against intestinal α-glucosidase and pancreatic α-amylase https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21538147/
 Dylan W Peterson et al. (2009) Cinnamon extract inhibits tau aggregation associated with Alzheimer's disease in vitro https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19433898/
 Saurabh Khasnavis et al. (2014) Cinnamon treatment upregulates neuroprotective proteins Parkin and DJ-1 and protects dopaminergic neurons in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24946862/
 Hyeon Ka et al. (2003) Cinnamaldehyde induces apoptosis by ROS-mediated mitochondrial permeability transition in human promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12860272/
 Arti Nile et al. (2023) Cinnamaldehyde-Rich Cinnamon Extract Induces Cell Death in Colon Cancer Cell Lines HCT 116 and HT-29 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37175897/
 Charu Gupta et al. (2011) Comparative study of cinnamon oil and clove oil on some oral microbiota https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22783715/
 Martiniaková, Silvia et al. (2022) Ceylon cinnamon and clove essential oils as promising free radical scavengers for skin care products https://www.proquest.com/openview/5be6134d3739257d40d072147d51653b/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=2016349