What can cinnamon oil be used for

Ceylon cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices in the world. The sweet-smelling cinnamon powder is found in gingerbread, baked apples, plum jam, rice pudding and cinnamon stars, among other things.

Real cinnamon used to be (and is still today) a treasure. Arab traders were the first to sell the spice, but kept its origin strictly secret. Adventurous rumors emerged: allegedly certain birds built their nests out of cinnamon sticks and the collectors would have to steal their nest!

The spice came to Europe in the 14th century. As a result, European spice traders searched for the origin of the valuable bark and found it on the island of Ceylon. Since then, it was primarily Portuguese and later Dutch traders who sold cinnamon.

What does Ceylon cinnamon look like and where is the medicinal plant found?

The "real" cinnamon is Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum). It is a type of tree that grows six to ten meters high and is evergreen. The leaves are opposite to each other, look egg-shaped to oval and have a leathery top. When rubbed, they smell like cloves. The whitish-green flowers are arranged in panicles and are inconspicuous. If the bark is peeled off and dried, the typical rolled up cinnamon sticks are formed, which smell aromatic. Ceylon cinnamon belongs to the laurel family (Lauraceae) and is native to Sri Lanka. Cinnamon is grown in South and Southeast Asia, Madagascar and the Seychelles.

Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia), also called Chinese cinnamon, is considered an adulteration of real cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is mainly used to make spices. It can be distinguished from the Ceylon species as follows: The sticks of real cinnamon resemble a cigar. The bark is rolled up in many thin layers. Cassia cinnamon sticks have a thick layer of bark with a cavity in the middle.

Which plant parts and ingredients are used?

The effective ingredients are in the cinnamon bark. It contains 0.5 to four percent essential oil, which consists of 65 to 75 percent cinnamaldehyde and about five percent eugenol. In addition, there are small amounts of so-called mono-, sesqui- and diterpenes, tannins and phenol carboxylic acids. The substance coumarin occurs in Ceylon cinnamon only in very low concentrations. Cassia cinnamon, on the other hand, can contain up to 0.3 percent coumarin.

What do the ingredients do? What does cinnamon help against?

Cinnamon promotes appetite and stimulates bowel movements. As a spice, it can therefore make food easier to digest and prevent digestive problems such as gas and bloating.

Certain ingredients in cinnamon are believed to affect blood sugar levels. Laboratory tests show that cinnamon increases the release of the hormone insulin. At the same time, the tissue reacts more sensitively to insulin and absorbs more glucose.

The previous studies have come to different conclusions. Sometimes cinnamon is believed to have a positive effect on the blood sugar level of people with type 2 diabetes, sometimes not. The German Diabetes Society advises against taking cinnamon supplements as a dietary supplement (see "important information"). Discuss with your doctor whether cinnamon may or may not be suitable for you.

Important instructions:

It is currently not known if cinnamon supplements cause side effects, especially if taken over a long period of time. There are indications that cinnamon increases the effects of drugs that lower blood sugar and can thus lead to hypoglycaemia.

If cassia cinnamon is used long-term as a capsule or tablet, the coumarin it contains can lead to liver disorders, among other things.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid cinnamon supplements as a precaution.

According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, the (cassia) cinnamon that is predominantly available in grocery stores may contain increased amounts of liver-damaging coumarin, so you should be careful when consuming it. This is especially true for small children. Those who use the spice a lot are on the safe side with Ceylon cinnamon from the pharmacy. Incidentally, coumarin is also found as a fragrance in some cosmetics.

Tip: Ask your pharmacy for advice on dosage and use.