CINNAMON SIDE EFFECTS
While Cinnamon may have huge benefits, one should exercise some caution. Take a sensible pragmatic approach to Cinnamon and remember to understand that the benefits or dangers may or may not apply you. Only by understanding it's limitations can you truly harness the power of Cinnamon, especially Ceylon Cinnamon.
1. Toxicity Accumulation - As with most things taking Cinnamon over extended periods of time will build a certain level of toxicity in your body. The recommenced dosage of Cinnamon according to the US Department of health, is 6 grams daily for 6 weeks or less. At this level of Cinnamon appears to be safe for most people. We recommend you follow these directions with a week of rest from Cinnamon every 6 weeks. This will allow any toxicity to be purged from your system. Or you could try 5 days and 2 days of rest from Cinnamon on the weekends.
2. Premature Labor - Pregnant women should not take Cinnamon. This is because Cinnamon can induce premature labor or uterine contractions. While Cinnamon helps with stomach pains, gas of indigestion, you should NOT be taking Cinnamon for these purposes while you are pregnant. Better safe than sorry. An occasional cup of Cinnamon is not going to have an effect, but daily Cinnamon intake, taking Cinnamon tablets or especially smelling Cinnamon Oil should be avoided at all costs.
3. Coumarin - Those who take Cinnamon on a daily basis for dieting or other health reasons should switch to Ceylon Cinnamon, which only has 0.04% Coumarin. All other types of Cinnamon has high levels (about 5%) Coumarin which can cause liver failure if taken daily or in high doses. The Europeans even banned Cassia Cinnamon for a while because of its effects on the liver. Read our blog post on Coumarin with the latest data here.
4. Blood Thinner - Cinnamon thins your blood. This blood thinning properties are particularly high in Cassia Cinnamon, while Ceylon Cinnamon does not seem to thin your blood. This blood thinning property of Cassia Cinnamon helps it in acting as an anti clotting agent especially for those suffering from heart disease. However care must be taken to NOT to take it with other blood thinning medication.
5. Allergies - A small minority of people may be allergic to Cinnamon, even if they have consumed it previously without any ill effects. The symptoms usually include a runny nose, watery eyes or soreness of the eyes, shortness of breadth (usually by smelling Cinnamon Oil), upset stomach, facial or hand swelling, anaphylactic shock (unusual heartbeat, dizziness, confusion, dizziness, sudden drop in blood pressure) and nausea.
Most of the times Cinnamon allergies are not life threatening. While it is the adults who get most Cinnamon allergies, young children especially infants and toddlers may develop a reaction, sometimes through the mother consuming Cinnamon. If you suspect a Cinnamon allergy stop consuming Cinnamon and remove all traces of it from the house. Cinnamon is in many food items, so make sure anything you consume does not contain Cinnamon, especially Cassia Cinnamon. Any allergy test should establish which Cinnamon you are allergic to, so proper treatment can be affected.
6. Skin irritation - If you touch Cinnamon oil without diluting it, it will irritate your skin and create a burning sensation. Kind of like chili powder. This is particularly acute if you touch any genitalia after handling pure Cinnamon oil. So it's best to wear gloves or be careful not to spill any on your hands.
7. Increased Heart Rate - High doses of Cinnamon could be dangerous for those with a heart condition as Cinnamon is known to increase your heart rate. Similarly undiluted Cinnamon oil can cause rapid heart rates especially in children. Remember Cinnamon oil is especially powerful and should be diluted to less than 2% before use. At those levels it is safe for use by most people.
8. Cinnamon Challenge Choking Hazard - Lately teens and even preteens have been playing a game of who can swallow a tablespoon or more of Cinnamon powder. Swallowing Cinnamon powder without water creates a serious choking hazard that could result in death. Cinnamon powder can seep into your lungs and cause a serious chest infection, resulting in severe complications to your breathing. Your lungs can collapse and if you do not have access to a ventilator this would be certain death. It will also scar your lung leading to medical issues later in life. In fact any powder not just Cinnamon can cause all these complications.
9. Cinnamon Tablets - We do not believe Cinnamon tablets or capsules are safe or even effective to take because of things like Silicon Dioxide which is used in the manufacture of these tablets. Click here to see our in depth look at the dangers of Cinnamon capsules.
10. Antibiotic Conflict - Because Cinnamon in many ways acts like an antibiotic. albeit an all natural one, taking commercial antibiotic may create conflict. Taking Cinnamon with antibiotics is in many ways akin to taking a double dose of antibiotics. This is the power of Cinnamon. It is best you stop taking Cinnamon when taking prescription antibiotics and consult your Doctor. But it goes to prove in many ways the efficacy of Cinnamon.
11. Heat - Chinese medicine says to avoid anything that increases body heat and Cinnamon like alcohol, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cauliflower, lobster, coffee, garlic, ginger, glutinous rice, kim chee, onions, and pumpkin increases body heat. If you are going through menopause for example, then avoid Cinnamon. But this very same heat properties makes Cinnamon a great winter drink to warm your whole body and those suffering from arthritis to warm their bones.
US Department of Health - Cinnamon Side Effects (PDF)
Cinnamon Contact stomatitis (NCBI) - Nov 10, 2010
Cinnamon Chemical Content
Cinnamon has different chemical properties depending on whether you are dealing with Cinnamon Sticks, Cinnamon Leaf oil or Cinnamon Bark Oil. Cinnamon Leaf Oil has higher levels of Eugenol while Cinnamon Bark Oil has higher levels of Cinnamaldehyde. Each compound has unique benefits.
The quality of Cinnamon Leaf Oil is judged based on it's Eugenol Content. Generally Cinnamon Leaf oil with over 70% Eugenol is considered very high quality.
Cinnamon Bark Oil is judged based on it's cinnamaldehyde content.. Anything over 90% cinnamaldehyde is considered very good quality.
Cinnamon Oil - Oral Ingestion
Only professional food processors or manufactures should mix Cinnamon oil for internal consumption even though it has powerful benefits. This is because of the sheer difficulty of mixing Cinnamon oil. Most people just don't have the skills to do this properly.
Generally speaking Cinnamon Bark oil is the preferred oil for internal consumption and is often used in food processing (like in our tea) as a flavor enhancer, aroma booster, anti-bacterial and other benefits of Cinnamon because less than 2% can create a powerful effect. So if you think you can mix Cinnamon Bark Oil for internal consumption, then go ahead. It's food grade quality, but be careful. We do not sell Cinnamon Bark Oil because of the liability of improper mixing for internal consumption by people at home.
Cinnamon Leaf Oil which we sell on this site is mostly used for external applications because it is relatively inexpensive and more effective and efficient for most external applications due to the high Eugenol content. While you can technically even take Cinnamon Leaf Oil internally, we do not recommend this at all. This is because it is not as refined as Bark Oil and has high Eugenol content which is good for other applications but is too high for internal consumption and will burn your stomach linings. .
That does not mean Cinnamon Bark Oil cannot be used as an anti bacterial disinfectant for example but it would a be very expensive method. The scent of Cinnamon Bark Oil is even more refined that Cinnamon leaf Oil, but to use it in a aroma diffuser is a relatively expensive proposition. If you can afford it. Yes by all means.
Danger of taking Cinnamon for weight loss
Because Cinnamon thins your blood, it has been assumed that it will naturally increase blood circulation. Increased blood flow generally boosts your metabolism which is why it may be helpful in weight loss.
However only Cassia Cinnamon is generally known to thin your blood, but the danger of Cassia Cinnamon is that it will damage your liver because of high Coumarin content. So while you might end up losing weight, you will most certainly suffer liver damage or even complete liver failure at times. Besides you would have to take sustained high doses of Cassia Cinnamon for rapid weight loss, which is not healthy and would exceed US department of health guidelines of no more than 6g per day of Cinnamon.
Ceylon Cinnamon may however act as a weight loss aid to some extent by making you feel fuller and thus reducing the hunger pangs that lead to overeating. It will not dissolve your fat, but rather help reduce food intake. And because Cinnamon is an extremely good digestive aid, it will help extract the maximum nutrient content possible from a given amount of food. Note Ceylon Cinnamon for weight loss should be considered as a weight loss aid that should be combined with high quality food and a healthy program of moderate exercise that you can sustain and enjoy.