Type of plant: Evergreen tree that can grow to 20–30 feet but is cultivated as a bush, with thick bark, greenish-orange speckled shoots, small white flowers, and fruit that when ripe, becomes bluish with white spots
Part used: Leaves and twigs
Method of extraction: Steam distillation
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Data: Sri Lanka, the jewel-shaped island country off the south coast of India, has been fought over many times because of its valuable cinnamon crop — first by the Portuguese in 1505, then the Dutch, then the English. Valued for its medicinal as well as its spice and fragrance uses, cinnamon has been traded around the world for many centuries. The name comes from the ancient Greek kinnamon, meaning “tube” — the classic rolled bark of cinnamon.
Principal places of production: Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Comoro Islands, Seychelles
When buying look for: The leaf oil, which is used in aromatherapy, is a darkish yellow. The viscosity can vary from medium to thin, and the aroma is warm, earthy, and spicy. Essential oils are also produced from the bark, stems, and roots, but these have different properties and are not recommended for home use.
Therapeutic properties: Analgesic, anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiputrescent, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, carminative, circulatory, depurative, immunostimulant, stimulant, tonic
Therapeutic uses: Bacterial and viral infection, parasitic infection, intestinal infection, fungal infection, respiratory infection, fevers, coughs, flu, muscular injury, aches and pains, rheumatism, arthritis, cold limbs, general physical debility, exhaustion, fatigue, tired all the time
Blends well with: Bay laurel, benzoin, bergamot, cardamom, carnation, carrot seed, clove bud, coriander seed, eucalyptus lemon, eucalyptus radiata, frankincense, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, lavandin, lavender, lavender (spike), lemon, lemongrass, mandarin, may chang, myrtle, nutmeg, orange (sweet), oregano, palmarosa, petitgrain, pimento berry, rose absolute, tangerine, tarragon, ylang ylang, yuzu
Precautionary advice: Best avoided if using multiple medications or anticoagulants. Those with hypersensitive skin are advised to carry out a skin patch test. Best avoided during pregnancy and while breast-feeding. GRAS status.