Cinnamon Side Effects
The Truth about the Side Effects of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a familiar fragrance and taste and is also used for medicinal purposes, but one fact that may not be as well known is that there are potentially dangerous side effects of cinnamon.
What it is
The spice called cinnamon is derived from the bark, twigs and leaves of a tree species called “cinnamomum”. Though there are numerous trees included within this genus, most of the commercial cinnamon products There are actually two types of cinnamon that distinguish between the types of trees they originate from; Ceylon cinnamon and cassia cinnamon. Of these two, cassia cinnamon is the form most frequently found in the United States; often considered to be a “substitute” cinnamon.
The differences between the two types of cinnamon are numerous. In appearance, the two are noticeably diverse; Ceylon cinnamon is light brown while cassia is deeper in color. They are dissimilar in texture as well, with cassia featuring a hard and rough exterior while Ceylon is thin and soft. One of the most perceptible differences, however, is in the flavor of the two cinnamons. Ceylon is sweet and delicate in taste, while cassia may seem to have little if no flavor whatsoever.
Most people have no idea of the differences between Ceylon and cassia cinnamon; believing that the cinnamon available in grocery stores is, quite simply, cinnamon. There are some startling health facts about cinnamon, however, that should make everyone sit up and take notice for their own wellbeing.
Side effects of cinnamon
The enticing smell and the earthy flavor of cinnamon is not the only draw of this heady spice; there is proof that cinnamon is also beneficial to reduce blood sugar levels. While it is true that there are several health advantages for the spice, a fact that most people do not know is that cinnamon can also be detrimental to the health in a variety of ways.
One negative aspect that is focused on cassia cinnamon that can cause serious issues with individuals who consume the spice is an element called coumarin. Coumarin is an additive, a natural flavoring and a perfume. It is also dangerous to the health of humans, with the threat of creating an inflammation to the liver that is capable of causing jaundice and even liver toxicity. Both Ceylon and cassia cinnamon contain coumarin; Ceylon possesses very small levels of coumarin, though, while cassia contains what is to be considered high levels. Therefore, the consumption of cassia should be extremely limited. This fact is particularly troublesome, considering that many individuals consume higher than average levels of the spice thinking it to be helpful to lower blood pressure. Since cassia is more widely available and lower in cost in the United States than Ceylon, these same people may be causing more harm than good.
- Allergies to cinnamon are not among the most common, but are found in many people. Contact allergies were frequently detected when toothpicks were infused with the spice and held between the lips and teeth. Skin tissue may become inflamed and reddened. Less frequently are other allergic reactions experienced.
- There is also evidence that excess use of cinnamon can cause serious damage to kidney function. The culprit is once again coumarin in most cases, but cinnamon oil can be particularly toxic to the system.
Keep in mind that these health issues are associated with high levels of cassia cinnamon in particular. Using the spice in baking and cooking on an occasional basis has not proven to cause detrimental side effects of cinnamon.
Though it may take a bit more effort to find it, obtaining Ceylon cinnamon will offer the benefits of better flavoring for foods and less problematic issues for health.