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Episode 227: All About Cinnamon Bark, Plus the History of White Grapefruit

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Scott Johnson, Director of Product Management, to talk about Cinnamon essential oil. He'll discuss some of the history of cinnamon bark, the chemical constituents inside the oil and what they do, as well as some of his favorite ways to use Cinnamon essential oil. Plus, we'll talk about the amazing history of White Grapefruit.

This episode is sponsored by MetaPWR System, learn more about how you can get a free, exclusive copy of the doTERRA MetaPWR: The 3-Step System for Metabolic Health audiobook by purchasing a the MetaPWR System.

If you'd like to enroll to be a doTERRA member and receive a 25% wholesale discount on all products click here.


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doTERRA: Warm, cozy and treasured Cinnamon essential oil has so many wonderful uses. And today we’ll talk a little bit more about why you should be using it every day.

Welcome back to Essential Oil Solutions with doTERRA: the podcast where you’ll hear exciting, useful and simple everyday uses for essential oils from experts in the field.

Today’s episode is brought to you by the MetaPWR System, designed to help you live your most powerful life. This three-step system will be a game changer in your daily routine as you embark on your journey to supporting a healthy metabolism.

Right now, as a podcast exclusive, if you buy the MetaPWR System and enter the promo code “PODCAST” at checkout, we’ll send you an exclusive audio book: doTERRA MetaPWR: The Three-Step System for Metabolic Health. Check out the link in our episode description or visit to learn more. Open to US orders only.

Today we’re excited to talk to Dr. Scott Johnson, director of Product Management and author of multiple books and hundreds of articles about health, wellness, and essential oils, all about Cinnamon essential oil. Then we’ll take a look at the history of white grapefruit.

Scott, thank you so much for being here with us today.

Scott: You bet. I'm glad to be here again.

doTERRA: We are always excited to talk to you.

So, my first question is, how was cinnamon bark used throughout history? Where did its uses come from?

Scott: Yeah, well cinnamon is considered one of the first spices traded in the ancient world and it’s mentioned in the Bible even multiple times. So, we have a long history of its use.

Of course, it was used in foods and dishes because of its desirable flavor. But it was also used for ritual and wellness reasons as well. It has been used as a meat preservative, a perfume, and even as a component of love potions.

Chinese writings dating back to about 2800 BC recommended using cinnamon for wellness support. Ayurvedic practitioners that are in India also mentioned its use for digestion and respiratory support. The ancient Egyptians used it as part of the embalming process. And physicians, during the Middle Ages, used it for throat irritation and respiratory complaints. Similarly, ancient Romans used it to aid their respiratory and digestive system. So, there’s kind of a theme in the ancient uses.

Today, its use for wellness continues as pre-clinical research has revealed that it helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, aids digestion, and possesses strong cleansing properties.

doTERRA: That is incredible and such a long history! Now, why is it that cinnamon has been so prized and valued?

Scott: You’re right in that it was highly prized in ancient cultures and at times considered more valuable than gold or ivory. It was so valuable that it was considered worthy of gifting to monarchs in history. Mostly it was highly valued because of supply and demand. Combined with it growing in a very small geographic region, back then, that mean extensive travel to bring it to far away nations.

Part of the reason why it was so expensive at times was manipulation by those who controlled its production and distribution. Arabians in the 10th century shared fantastical stories about where and how it was obtained to increase its value. And during the 17th century, the Dutch seized the world’s largest cinnamon supplier on the island of Ceylon and then bribed and threatened those in control of other cinnamon suppliers in India to create a monopoly.

Once that monopoly ended and people found out that you can grow it in other regions of the world, the price started to come down. But it was still relatively expensive for a spice today.

doTERRA: And, you know, we’ve talked a lot about cinnamon in general, the spice. But when did people start taking that cinnamon and distilling it down to an essential oil?

Scott: Yeah, ancient peoples extracted aromatics, so not really true essential oils, but they got aromatic volatile molecules from the plant—from cinnamon—using crude methods that involved combining the bark with animal or vegetable fats. We don’t really know when the first true distillation of cinnamon bark occurred, but it likely was during the 10th or 11th century when the distillation of plant essences was being perfected.

doTERRA: And that was much earlier on than I would have guessed. Now, when we get that Cinnamon essential oil, what are the main chemical constituents inside there, and what do they do?

Scott: Cinnamon Bark essential oil is primarily composed of a constituent called trans-Cinnamaldehyde and it contains about 60 to 80% of this constituent. So that’s a lot of the cinnamon that’s the oil, that’s made up of that. But it also contains Eugenol, Beta-caryophyllene, Cinnamoyl acetate, linalool and some benzyl derivatives.

Trans-Cinnamaldehyde is considered the main active constituent and its properties have been pretty well researched. Pre-clinical research suggests it may support healthy cells, help to aid cardiovascular and nervous system health, supports healthy metabolism and the maintenance of normal blood sugar levels, and has antioxidant cleansing properties.

But we shouldn’t look at constituents in isolation and rather focus on the natural complex substance due to the additive, synergistic and antagonistic activity inherent in essential oils that contain from a dozen to hundreds of different constituents.

Eugenol and Beta-caryophyllene also have well-researched benefits that support healthy immune system function and a healthy inflammatory response among many others. The benefits of Cinnamon Bark essential oil really come from the combination of all its constituents.

doTERRA: And that is incredible! Scott, before we end, I want to know what are some of your favorite ways to use Cinnamon essential oil?

Scott: Yeah, especially this time of year I like to diffuse it with a little bit of Clove and Orange mixed with it. I find that mentally stimulating.

I also love that it is part of two great product families: the doTERRA On Guard® products and the MetaPWR System.

Cinnamon becomes an important part of my wellness routine in the colder months of the year when I take doTERRA On Guard®+ Softgels, chew the doTERRA On Guard®+ Tablets and enjoy the doTERRA On Guard® Throat Drops. And Cinnamon Bark essential oil is part of the MetaPWR metabolic blend for a reason, because of its association with healthy digestion and metabolism.

doTERRA: And all of those uses sound incredible, like you said, especially this time of year. Scott, thank you so much for sitting down with us today. We always love learning from you.

Scott: My pleasure. Thanks!

doTERRA: The grapefruit has been called many things in its history: the forbidden fruit, the smaller shaddock, one of the Seven Wonders of Barbados, just to name a few.

Compared to the lemon or the orange, the grapefruit is a fairly recent addition to the citrus family. It was first spotted on the island of Barbados in 1750 by Reverend Griffith Hughes, who documented is find in his book The Natural History of Barbados. Now, the genetic origin of the grapefruit is actually a hybrid mix. One ancestor of the grapefruit was the Jamaican sweet orange, which is itself an ancient hybrid of Asian origin. The other was the Indonesian pomelo.

One story of the fruit’s origin is that a certain Captain Shaddock brought pomelo seeds to Jamica and bred the first fruit. Although it’s more likely that it probably originated as a naturally occurring hybrid between the two plants introduced there. The grapefruit, like all citrus fruit, is a hesperidin, or a large modified berry with a thick rind, and was only known as the shaddock until the 19th century.

So, how did it become known as the grapefruit?

As it turns out, it’s a relatively new occurrence. The first etymology of the name grapefruit is from an 1814 book by John Lunin, where it was said to have the name because of its resemblance in flavor to the grape. But that doesn’t really make sense because anyone who’s tasted a grapefruit knows that isn’t true. Most scholars think that he was attempting to explain the origin of a name he ran across.

The most popular belief for where the name comes from is that it actually refers to the shape of the fruit, not the flavor. Grapefruits grow on trees in clusters, which are often said to appear similar to grapes. But there are only a few other languages that make the link between grapefruits and grapes. In Romance languages grapefruit usually shares the same name as its ancestor, the pomelo. In fact, Romanian is only Romance language to distinguish the two.

A few other languages have also adopted the American word “grapefruit,” even though they don’t have the same word for grape such as Dutch, Swedish and Turkish. But this has led some etymologists to suspect that the grapefruit is also named after the pomelo.

The pomelo scientific name is Citrus Maxima, which can be reasonably translated as “great fruit,” a reference to both the pomelo and the fruit size. After a few decades, that may have gotten corrupted into grapefruit, but we may never know for sure.

Unlike earlier citrus fruit, like the orange, the lemon, and the lime, the grapefruit received a rather cold reception. Although already swimming in citrus at the time, most fruit lovers in Florida found the grapefruit to be too sour to enjoy eating on a regular basis. As a result, it was not widely planted when the Florida citrus industry was rapidly expanding. In fact, the grapefruit was just considered an exotic novelty fruit until the late 1920s.

So how did the grapefruit go from being too sour to enjoy on a regular basis to the popular fruit it is today?

At first the tree was grown only as a novelty in Florida and the fruit was barely used. Even in Jamaica, the trees were often cut down. The original white grapefruit was joined by a pink and later a red variety that was much sweeter than its predecessors.

The discovery of these new shades caught the public’s imagination and helped the little-known fruit become a supermarket staple. Even now, white grapefruits are usually considered somewhat rare compared to red flesh grapefruits, and are usually found in limited quantities through Farmer’s Markets and home gardens. But the white grapefruit became an extremely popular diet food in the 1930s, both in fresh and juice form.

An early pioneer in the American citrus industry was Kimball Atwood, a wealthy entrepreneur who founded the Atwood Grapefruit Company in the late 19th century. The Atwood Grove became the largest grapefruit grove in the world, with a yearly output of 80,000 boxes of fruit. And it was there, in fact, that pink grapefruit was discovered in 1906.

Today, America loved the grapefruit and is the world’s largest consumer of grapefruit, with large commercial groves in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. In Japan, white grapefruits are imported from Florida and have their own holiday known as Florida Grapefruit Day, an annual event held on February 24th. The celebration was created by Yamato and Associates, a marketing firm in partnership with the Florida Department of Citrus, to promote the sale of Florida grapefruits in Tokyo. During the holiday white grapefruits are prominently displayed in stores, and celebrity endorsements encourage the consumption of the fruit.

In addition to the flesh, white grapefruits have a sweet, tart juice, also commonly served at restaurants, bars and on airplanes as a favored mixer for cocktails. The acidity and subtly bitter flavor of the juice blend well with tropical fruity drinks. And it also mixes with spirits to create simple versions of famous drinks such as the Greyhound, Paloma and the Salty Dog.

But grapefruit isn’t just known for its delicious taste. It has also been used throughout history for its many benefits. In traditional Chinese wellness practices, grapefruit is classified as a sour food. Sour flavors are associated with specific parts of the body, and sour foods are thought to be astringent, cooling, and to help generate yin.

In Ayurvedic tradition, grapefruit is thought to increase Pitta energy and pacify Kapha.

Inhaling Grapefruit essential oil is said to stimulate various areas, including third-eye chakras. And in Ayurveda, it’s used to help cleanse the mind and the aura, and stimulate confidence and creativity.

With all of its incredible uses, not to mention the delicious smell and taste, it’s no wonder that white grapefruit has become a favorite around the world. And we know that White Grapefruit oil will become a favorite in your home.

Thanks for joining us and congratulations on living a healthier lifestyle with essential oils.

If you want to try any of the products you learned about, click on the link in the episode description or find a Wellness Advocate near you to place an order today. And remember, if you liked what you heard today, rate, review, and subscribe where you listen.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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