There are 100s of verities of cinnamon trees.
However, the two varieties most used for food and medicinal purposes are – Cinnamomum zeylancium or Ceylon cinnamon which grows mostly in India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Caribbean, and Brazil.
Chinese / Cassia cinnamon or Cinnamomum aromaticum grows in China, Indonesia and Vietnam.
The cinnamon tree is usually cultivated for 2 years before it is harvested.
The bark or quills are the part mostly used as cinnamon sticks or powder in food and to make supplements. However, the cinnamon leaves also offer us many benefits.
Cinnamon leaves are rich in phytonutrients. Essential oils are extracted from the leaves or it can be used to make capsules.
Often the entire leaf is used as an ingredient to make herbal tea.
Cinnamon leaf oil has a spicy, musky and warm smell.
It has a yellow tinge which is different from the red-brown essential oil extracted from the cinnamon bark.
The leathery, shiny green leaves of the cinnamon tree pass through a steam distillation process and yield about 1.6% - 1.8% essential oil.
Essential oils extracted from cinnamon leaves are more delicate and they contain chemicals like eugenol acetate, eugenol, benzyl benzoate, and cinnamic aldehyde.
Benefits of Cinnamon Leaves
Cinnamon leaf oil has antiseptic, analgesic, antispasmodic, antibiotic, astringent, carminative, aphrodisiac, cardiac and other benefits.
It can be used to treat general pain, respiratory tract infections, rheumatism, and arthritis. Feelings of exhaustion and depression can be eased by using this essential oil.
Menstrual pains could be reduced since cinnamon leaf oil stimulates our glandular system.
Cinnamon oil has been used in traditional medicine to ease the symptoms of a toothache. Even to this day, it is often mixed in breath fresheners, mouthwashes, and chewing gum.
Gastric benefits: Eugenol present in cinnamon leaf oil reduces gastric problems like nausea, diarrhea, and upset stomach.
Diabetes: Cinnamaldehyde is present in cinnamon leaf and this could reduce the risk of a person developing type-2 diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity.
Aromatherapy: Cinnamon leaf essential oil is used for its aphrodisiac properties in aromatherapy.
It can relieve symptoms of impotence and increase sexual function in both women and men. Inhaling cinnamon oil blended with other essential oils are said to have an aphrodisiac effect.
Cinnamon leaf essential oil is used in vaporizers and burners and these can be used to treat chest congestion and bronchitis.
As a massage oil, it can be mixed in bath water and helps to ease symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism, diarrhea, flu, and other infections.
Cinnamon oil is often mixed with other herbs like cloves, frankincense, benzoin, rosemary, thyme, lavender, ginger, etc to make various medicinal lotions and creams.
Cinnamon leaf oil has a calming effect and it helps alleviate feelings of depression.
Used in a diffuser during cold winter months, cinnamon oil vapors are said to create feelings of warmth and comfort.
Other medicinal properties: Cinnamon leaf oil could act as an antibacterial agent and help with digestion.
It could fight against harmful bacteria that cause infection.
Production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine could be improved and it could also help balance brain chemicals and improve mental health by easing symptoms of anxiety, mental tension, nervousness and depression.
Cinnamon leaves have a wonderful flavor and are often used to make baked and sweet dishes.
They are a popular flavoring agent of porridges – especially cornmeal porridge – in Jamaica.
Cinnamon leaves are used to make herbal teas that are helpful with weight loss.
Drink at least 2 to 3 cups of cinnamon tea to help with obesity.
Cinnamon leaf tea can also ease flu and cold symptoms and relieve upset stomach without causing any side effects. You can combine cinnamon leaf with green tea to boost health benefits.
Cinnamon leaf oil must be used with care since eugenol and cinnamaldehyde contained in it can irritate the mucous membranes.
High doses could induce convulsions. It should also be avoided during pregnancy since it has emmenagogue actions (cause menstruation).
Cinnamon oil could irritate the mouth and tongue causing sores.
It could also cause dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea and irritate the urinary tract, intestine and stomach lining. Consult a doctor before using cinnamon leaves for medicinal purposes.