Cinnamon is a common spice used as a flavoring agent. The botanical name is Cinnamomum verum or ‘True Cinnamon’. The commonly used cinnamon varieties are Ceylon and Cassia Cinnamon. Cinnamon requires tropical humid weather for the trees to flourish. It grows abundantly in Sri Lanka, India, China, Indonesia, Brazil and Vietnam. The evergreen cinnamon tree grows to 10-17m in height. Every few years the tree is cut almost to the roots and the inner and outer bark and leaves are then used to make cinnamon quills, cinnamon powder and cinnamon oil.
Possible Side Effects of Cinnamon
Apart from an excellent flavoring agent, cinnamon also offers many therapeutic benefits for it is an antifungal, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral agent. Cinnamon oil is also used in aromatherapy and can be used in the home as a room freshener, in a potpourri etc. Cinnamon used in food does not cause side effects. However, when used in excess, there are some adverse effects that we need to be aware of. The following are some of the possible side effects which we can experience with cinnamon supplements, bark or oil.
Upset Stomach: Large doses of cinnamon could cause an upset stomach including nausea, diarrhea, abdominal bloating, pain and stomach cramps, loss of appetite and vomiting. If such symptoms persist, stop using the product and consult a doctor.
Skin Inflammation: Anyone with a sensitive skin could develop an allergic reaction especially to cinnamon oil. Your skin could become itchy and swollen and eyes start to water. Others could develop sores around the mouth, gum disease, mouth lesions, tongue inflammation and acne if they apply cinnamon topically, eat cinnamon flavored mints or chewing gum or use cinnamon flavored toothpaste.
Allergic reactions: Anyone with hypersensitivity to cinnamon could develop allergic reactions like difficulty breathing, swallowing, hives, increased heart rate, loss of consciousness and weakness. This could be due to the presence of cinnamaldehyde the chemical compound found in cinnamon. Stop using the product and consult a doctor immediately in such cases.
Uncontrolled bleeding: Since cinnamon contains anti-clotting properties, those taking blood thinners could suffer from excess bleeding if they take cinnamon. Hence, such people should avoid cinnamon products.
Liver and Kidney Problems: Kidney and liver disorders could worsen with cinnamon and hence may need to be avoided. In fact, large quantities could cause hepatotoxicity and kidney toxicity too. This could be due to the coumarin content found in Cassia cinnamon.
Uterine Contractions: Some women could experience uterine contractions when using cinnamon. This is why pregnant women are advised to best avoid cinnamon supplements.
Drug Interactions: Some adverse effects could be experienced by those taking antibiotic medications since cinnamon has antibacterial activity. Caution should also be exercised when patients are taking diabetes medications for cinnamon could lower levels of blood sugar. Antifungal medications, antispasmodics, antiviral drugs, heart medications could all have adverse effects when taken with cinnamon for it has similar properties.
In the end I would like to add cinnamon is very safe when used as a spice. Excess of almost everything causes issues and cinnamon is no exception. Use this amazing spice wisely and get its benefits!
As a general herbal supplement, the dosage of cinnamon depends on the health, age and other conditions of the user. Always consult a doctor before using cinnamon supplements.
As we have seen, consuming cinnamon in food amounts is safe. Those who are pregnant and breastfeeding or diabetic must avoid cinnamon. Since cinnamon could interfere with blood sugar levels, patients requiring surgery should avoid cinnamon. Cinnamon could also interact with blood thinning medications such as warfarin, aspirin and NSAIDs due to the presence of coumarins in it.