Cinnamon

- By: Sarah Wu

Cinnamon, sweet, spicy… Can you smell it?
How do certain scents evoke such intense emotions, from love to repulsion, to comfort and joy, to longing and tears. Some scents make us hungry, others make us sassy. Some make us dream, some take us home.

Where does the aroma of Cinnamon take you? Can you take a deep breath, close your eyes, and smell Cinnamon? How far back can you go? Cinnamon takes me back to elementary school and Snickerdoodle cookies at the snack counter during lunch break. It takes me to my grandmother’s house at the holidays, decorated with bundles of Cinnamon sticks wrapped in ribbon. It brings me home to my farm on the Southern Caribbean, processing the sweet bark for our jungle kitchen. It takes me to clinic, where it is the key ingredient in the Neutralizing Cordial, bringing relief to so many digestive disorders. Cinnamon makes me feel safe and held.

Of our six senses, the Olfactory, better known as scent, is most deeply associated with memory. When we smell, micro-particles arrive to the Olfactory Bulb, are processed, and information about the smell is sent to the Limbic System, the oldest part of our brain, which controls emotions, memory, and stimulation. This includes the Hypothalamus, Hippocampus, Amygdala, and Cingulate Gyrus. The Hypothalamus is a gland that serves a bridge between the Endocrine and Nervous Systems. Responsible for regulating hunger, thirst, response to pain, responses to pleasure, sexual satisfaction, anger, aggressive behavior, and more, while affecting the Autonomic Nervous System, which regulates the pulse, blood pressure, breathing, and emotional response. The Hippocampus converts things that are happening in the moment into things that you will remember over time.  In other words, long-term and short-term memory. Two almond shaped glands at the lower end of the Hippocampus are the Amygdala, responsible for emotions such as anger, sexual stimulation, and fear. The Cingulate Gyrus is the part of the cerebrum closest to the Limbic System. It focuses attention on emotionally significant events and for associating memories to smells and pain.

Now that you understand a bit about the brain and why aromatherapy is so effective, perhaps we can get on to the numerous therapeutic effects of Cinnamon as a scent, spice, and medicine. A member of the Lauracea family, Cinnamum zeylanicum, known as “True Cinnamon” is native to the Ceylon region of the Indian subcontinent.

Cinnamon is an aroma that many associate with warmth, holidays, and sweet treats. This beloved spice has been traded commercially for over 4000 years, is described in the Old Testament and Egyptian and Greco-Roman historical records.  Columbus set sail in search of a direct trade route to Cinnamon and today it is widely cultivated in India, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Burma, Brazil, around the Caribbean, and the Pangea Organics Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil is ethically wild-crafted in Sri Lanka.

There are many modern fragrances containing Cinnamon, such as Burberry London and Cartier Pour Homme Essence. Long before we mass produced our fragrances and incenses, we hand- crafted them, and only the elite could afford them. A popular Egyptian fragrance, kyphi, meaning “welcome to the gods,” consisted of Calamus, Cinnamon, Cypress, Frankincense, Henna, Myrrh, Pistachio Resin, and Spikenard, the barks and resins mixed with honey and wax, placed under wigs to melt or massaged into the skin. This famous formula was said to induce hypnotic states, ease anxiety, induce sleep, treat asthma, reduce sorrow, and increase dreaming. In the Old Testament, Moses used an infused Olive Oil of Calamus, Cinnamon, and Myrrh for the initiation of priests.  Popular throughout ancient Rome, terms of affection such as, “My Cinnamon” were as common as “Sweetie” and “Honey” are to us today.

There are many therapeutic uses for Cinnamon. Topically as a massage oil, it is effective for relieving menstrual pain and sore muscles.  Cinnamon tea or tincture also reduces heavy menstrual flow. Make a gentle, yet potent cramp relief treatment with Cinnamon, Lavender, and Rose Essential Oils in Jojoba Oil. Powerfully anti-fungal, Cinnamon is effective for treating Athlete’s Foot as a soak and as an oil, in mouth washes and toothpastes, for oral Candida (Thrush). Cinnamon is in the Aldehydes chemical group, making it anti-inflammatory, calming, antiseptic, and sedating, but also irritating to skin and mucus membranes undiluted. I would not suggest using Cinnamon Essential Oil intravaginally, unless it is extremely diluted and a very small part of the formula. I would suggest Cinnamon regularly as a spice and as a medicinal tea for intestinal Candida overgrowth, as well as for treating PMS related vaginal yeast infections. Topically, it can irritate the mucus membranes and skin, which is why it is very important that it is well diluted. Cinnamon tea is one of my favorite remedies for acute diarrhea, I blend it with a bitter herb, such as Oregon Grape Root (Mahonia aquifolium) and Quassia amara. Cinnamon has been shown in numerous trials to be effective in helping treat insulin resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. On our farm in the Southern Caribbean, we learned that the leaves of Cinnamon, also containing numerous essential oils and other antibacterial and anti-inflammatory compounds, are also mucilaginous - creating the perfect anti-Candida demulcent. Urinary tract infections are some of the hardest to treat. We have found this to be an effective remedy along with Usnea spp. and Uva Ursi (Archtostaphylos uva-ursi).

Cinnamon Essential Oil kills antibiotic resistant Staph. spp. infections (MRSA) with Cinnamaldehyde showing the most activity in clinical trials.  Cinnamon Essential Oil inhibits both Gram+ and Gram− bacteria, possesses antimutagenic properties in vitro and in vivo, has significant anti-melanoma, and is antiparasitic and antioxidant. Cinnamon Essential Oil can be safely ingested, with no more than 2 drops in a ¼ cup honey, glycerin, oil, fat, or alcohol.

Aroma-therapeutically, Cinnamon Essential Oil is a stimulant to the central nervous system without stressing the adrenal glands like coffee, it is an aphrodisiac, and helps reduce blood pressure.  The smell stimulates appetite and slows digestion while improving absorption. The unisex, top to middle note aroma can be described as oriental, sweet, spicy, and resinous, blending beautifully with citrus, florals, and musk.

Indulge yourself this Winter Season with an uplifting Pangea Organics Bodycare Ritual featuring Cinnamon, Frankincense, Cedar, and Sweet Orange in a nurturing bath or diffused throughout the home, keeping you warm and cozy through the chilly months.