Is cinnamon making you sick?

January 25, 2011
Volume 08    |   Issue 05

Cinnamon is the second most popular spice in the U.S. and Europe. Research shows that it’s beneficial for diabetes, Candida, H. pylori, and other health problems. But beware: This spice is making some people very sick.

In fact, it is even causing liver damage in people who are particularly sensitive when they eat large quantities. And some people are consuming very large quantities. Unfortunately, most people are completely unaware of its potential dangers.

You won’t find many reports on cinnamon’s safety. Most assume it’s safe. But its safety depends in part on which variety you eat.

There are two types of cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is thinner, tastes sweet, and is more expensive. Most cinnamon you get from supermarkets is the less expensive Cassia cinnamon. It comes from China and Indonesia.

The problem with cinnamon is with a natural flavoring it contains. This natural flavoring is coumarin. Not Coumadin, the blood-thinner, but coumarin. And studies have discovered that high levels of coumarin can cause liver damage in sensitive people.

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Cassia cinnamon has much higher levels of coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon — up to 63 times more! But that’s not all. When scientists analyzed 91 samples of Cassia cinnamon purchased in supermarkets, they found a wide range of coumarin levels. Then they analyzed Cassia cinnamon samples from five trees in Indonesia. The amount of coumarin varied greatly, even among samples from the same tree.

So what should you do?

If you want to take cinnamon for any health condition, take small amounts. This is one case where more is not necessarily better. Get a blood test to assess your liver function before starting any high-cinnamon regime. Take a break from it periodically and eat plenty of green vegetables to support your liver.

Unless the cinnamon you’re taking has been tested, there’s no way you can know how much coumarin you’re getting. And you don’t want to discover that you’re sensitive to coumarin after it damages your liver.

Your voice of reason in Women's Health,


"Quantification of Flavoring Constituents in Cinnamon: High Variation of Coumarin in Cassia Bark from the German Retail Market and in Authentic Samples from Indonesia", Biology & Nature, Nov 3, 2010.

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