As it is one of the most used spices in the kitchen and recognized for its variety of health benefits, it is difficult to think that cinnamon has contraindications and side effects . However, despite being little documented, we will delve into them.
Although there are different types of cinnamon, it is likely that you are regularly consuming the Cassia variety , which is the most common in stores and supermarkets. This type contains a high concentration of coumarin , the compound responsible for some of these contraindications and side effects.
We must start from two different concepts. One thing is the contraindications of cinnamon and another side effects. The former involve avoiding consumption to prevent health problems , while the latter are related to the negative reactions that excess can cause.
Patients on insulin treatment
Although this spice has been shown to have positive effects on lowering blood sugar, the consumption of cinnamon is not recommended in those who have diabetes and are being treated with insulin.
Why? Cinnamon can lead diabetic patients to experience hypoglycemia , a state in which sugar levels are too low. Considering that insulin’s job is to balance these levels, mixing it with the spice can alter its effectiveness.
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Stomatitis is a condition that causes redness and ulcers in the mouth, inflammation of the tongue and gums, burning or itching, which some people with an allergy to cinnamaldehyde , a compound found in cinnamon, may experience.
This condition occurs in people diagnosed with an allergy to the compound and also in those who abuse the consumption of cinnamon. It is recurrent in those who frequently use gum or flavored sweets.
Pregnancy status as a contraindication for cinnamon
Although the literature on the consumption of cinnamon in pregnancy is scarce, it is recommended to avoid it. It could stimulate the uterus and cause contractions , which, depending on the stage of pregnancy, can lead to the woman going through labor.
On the other hand, fissures in the placenta could also occur during pregnancy. Therefore, its consumption is also contraindicated during the lactation stage, because it would cause allergies in the baby.
Now we will describe the side effects of excessive consumption of cinnamon. That is to say, those health difficulties that we may face if we do not regulate the intake of this spice, which does not mean that we should leave it.
Excessive consumption of coumarin could cause liver damage , as scientific studies have referenced . Also, taking into account that cinnamon enhances the side effects of some medications, it is recommended to limit its use to avoid overloading the liver.
It is noteworthy that this component is present in higher concentration in Cassia , the most common type of cinnamon. For its part, the Ceilan type stands out for having a minimum concentration, which can be a good option to avoid future problems.
Possible risk of cancer
Although there have been no studies in humans that confirm the carcinogenic action of coumarin , there have been investigations in animals with positive results. The cancers that were identified affected the lungs, liver and kidneys.
This side effect is related to the ease of inhaling the cinnamon powder. Those who have inhaled it by mistake know that it can cause shortness of breath, coughing and nausea . Since cinnamaldehyde is an irritant, throat discomfort may linger .
The greatest risk to our respiratory system is associated with the consumption of dried and powdered cinnamon. The particles in this presentation are tiny and, if they enter the lungs, cause permanent damage, associated with aspiration pneumonia.
To avoid the side effects of coumarin, present in cinnamon, the consumption of 0.1 milligrams per kilo of body weight per day is recommended. This means that, an adult of 81 kilograms could consume 8 milligrams of coumarin .
However, since a 2.5 gram spoonful of cinnamon can have 7 to 18 milligrams of this substance, the intake should be less than one tablespoon.
Children, on the other hand, are usually intolerant to coumarin, so its use should be evaluated in them, even in small doses. Keep this recommendation in mind, especially in children under six years of age.
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In the event that you are a patient undergoing insulin treatment or have had liver failure, it is recommended to consult with the treating physician for the decision to stop consuming cinnamon.
Taking into account that, as we explained at the beginning of the article, the contraindications of cinnamon are different from the side effects, it is necessary that you avoid exceeding the consumption of this species . One of the benefits that has most popularized its use is the influence on weight loss, therefore it is easy to be tempted by products that do not include warnings.