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Cinnamon’s Mixed Messages

Tasty, Medicinal & Potentially Dangerous

Cinnamon may boost numerous benefits but is moderation key?

By John Salak –

It’s hard not to love cinnamon—the smell, the taste, the downhome thoughts it almost always evokes. Plus, it packs a well-recognized medicinal wallop. Cinnamon, in fact, can trace its roots back to ancient Egypt when it was used as a perfuming agent when mummies were embalmed, History.com reports. Since then it’s been on an almost unbroken upward trajectory thanks in large part to having the highest antioxidant value of any spice.

Cinnamon can reduce inflammation, encourage weight loss and lower blood sugar and pressure, according to various studies. It also has the ability to relieve nausea and, thanks it antimicrobial properties, extend the life of foods.

Just recently, British media re-emphasized cinnamon’s ability to ward off Type 2 diabetes by simply consuming one to three teaspoons of the spice daily. If that’s not enough, researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago reported in June that cinnamon might stimulate our ability to learn. They explained that metabolized cinnamon may increase CREB protein levels in the brain, which helps create memories. So, yes, they definitely recommend having a cup of cinnamon coffee daily.

All this good news means that cinnamon is a total, can’t-get-enough-of, win-win spice, correct? Not exactly. When it comes to cinnamon, there is definitely a danger of having too much of a good thing.  The spice’s red flag comes in the form of coumarin, a chemical compound found in several plants that can cause liver damage if taken in large doses. It is especially apparent in Cassia cinnamon as compared to Ceylon cinnamon.

Some countries, especially in Europe, even provide daily guidelines to limit coumarin intake, which could be met in some cases by a single teaspoon of cinnamon, according to the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research.

Verywellfit.com went on to signal that cinnamon and coumarin are also a no-go for people taking blood thinners as it can result in excessive bleeding, bruises and nosebleeds. And forget about taking cinnamon essential oil internally. That can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dizziness.

Not to be outdone on the cinnamon warnings, Healthline.com noted that in addition to creating potential liver problems, too much of the ground spice may increase the risk of cancer; generate mouth sours and tongue and gum swelling;  lower blood sugar to dangerous levels; possibly cause breathing problems; and affect certain medications.

This is all disturbing news, especially when it comes to something as feelgood and universally loved as cinnamon. The good news, however, is found in moderation. Sprinkling a bit of cinnamon on your oatmeal and coffee is fine. So is, thankfully, grabbing that last cinnamon bun.

 

 

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