The Genus Cinnamomum

by Andrea on August 6, 2009

I’m always fascinated by plants and essential oils with the same genus and different species. We find this with common oils such as Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus, radiata and dives), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia and latifolia), Myrrh and Opopanax (Commiphora myrrha and Commiphora guidotti).

Let’s look at two amazing yet less popular essential oils: Tamala essential oil (Cinnamomum tamala) and Sugandha Kokila essential oil (Cinnamomum glaucescens).

Cinnamomum is a genus of evergreen trees and shrubs belonging to the plant family called Lauraceae. What do these oils with the same genus have in common, and how are they different from each other?

In order to more deeply understand these oils, I like to spend time with their aromas and feel into what I can learn from just the scents.

Then I look at their exact chemistries with my GC/MS reports. Next, I research them by talking to the distillers about how these plants and oils are used in their countries, in their communities and in their homes. I also look on various websites for information about other people’s experiences with these oils. I read about the plants themselves–their growing environments, their behaviors, the plant parts the oil is extracted from, their flowers, size and personalities.

the Genus Cinnamomum the genus cinnamomum

Sugandha Kokila, Cinnamomum glaucescens
Main components:
13.5 % Methyl cinnamate — antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant
22 % 1,8 cineole (eucalyptol) — airborne antimicrobial, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antiviral,  hypotensive, increases cerebral blood flow, mucolytic

Sugandha Kokila has a wonderful camphoraceous and spicy aroma. The oil is made from the dried fruit of the plants. Sugandha Kokila is pronounced:  “Su-Gan-Dha Ko-Ki-La.” The oil has a nice, balanced  range of  the main components above, as well as monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and monoterpenols. This is a great oil for dealing with respiratory infections, sinus issues, headaches and muscle pain.  Click here for a profile of the oil and the batch-specific GC/MS report.


the genus cinnamomum

Tamala, Cinnamomum tamala
Main components:
61% Cinnamaldehyde — strong anti-fungal, antibacterial
9% Linalol — airborne antimicrobial, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antianxiety, antibacterial, antifungal (candida) , antioxidant, antispasmodic,  antiviral, hypotensive, immunostimulant, sedative

Tamala has a beautiful cinnamon aroma! Tamala is distilled from the leaves and twigs of the tree, and the chemistry is dominated by the high aldehyde content. There is a strong anti-fungal and antibacterial activity due to the high levels of cinnamaldehyde. The linalol, although only present at about 9%, helps balance this oil on the skin (aldehyde-rich oils can irritate the skin) and offers a nice range of complimentary activities, such as anti-infectious and antibacterial effects. I always dilute Tamala into nourishing skin butters and other skin protective essential oils. Click here for a profile of the oil and the batch-specific GC/MS report.

Both of these oils are useful in reducing infection. Tamala is great for skin fungus and bacterial infections. Sugandha Kokila is used more for respiratory infections and muscle pain and spasm.

Can you think of another oil with the genus Cinnamomum?
Ravintsara — Cinnamomum camphora ct. 1,8 cineole!

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Owner/Instructor at Aromahead Institute
Aromahead Institute, owned by Andrea Butje, is a premier resource for online aromatherapy classes. Andrea offers her inspired approach to online aromatherapy certification through essential oil videos and original education materials. Check out her book, Essential Living: Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home, on Amazon!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Admin August 13, 2009 at 10:59 am

Good question. The genus a group of plants that are closely related but have distinct species.

I always think of the genus like a last name, even though in the Latin name it is he first part of the name. Not fair!

Every plant species that comes from the same genus has a relationship, you can think of the different species as brothers and sisters and the genus as the parent.

There are about 70 different species of lavender. We will study the 2 most common ones in Aromatherapy: “True” Lavender- Genus is Lavandula, species is angustifolia.
Spike Lavender- genus is Lavandula again, species is latifolia.

Does that help?


nancy morris August 13, 2009 at 7:41 am

I woke up this morning wanting to acquaint myself to an oil a day and there was your email from Aromahead Institute. Your discussion about genus, lead me to your blog and Cinnamomum. You have often lead me to much knowledge and it all makes me happy. Thank you

I was wondering the other day about genus. It is defined as a taxonomy category with similar attributes. Is there any more specific ways to define that category “genus”?


Admin August 9, 2009 at 10:51 am

Thanks Pat!
Which anti-fungal oils have you found to be most effective?


Pat Morello August 9, 2009 at 10:07 am

Great information! Thank you so much. I have been doing a lot of reading on antifungals and this is more to add to the arsenal! You are so generous with your knowledge and I appreciate your explaining how you research these oils, very helpful.
Patricia Rose-A Potpourri of Fabric, Fragrance and Findings


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