The Surprising Side Effects Of Eating Too Much Cinnamon

Not all cinnamon is created equal. There are two common types of cinnamon, cassia and Ceylon. Cassia, the one on supermarket shelves, is widely available and more affordable than Ceylon. Ceylon is often known as true cinnamon, but both are made from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees (via Healthline). 

While we might think of the spice as harmless, there are some surprising side effects to eating too much cassia cinnamon because it contains the chemical coumarin. While Ceylon cinnamon has only trace amounts of coumarin, cassia cinnamon has seven to 18 milligrams of coumarin per teaspoon, according to a 2012 study

According to a 2010 review published in the Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, the tolerable amount of cassia cinnamon per day is 0.1 mg/kg body weight. For someone who's 160 pounds (73 kilograms), the limit is 7.3 milligrams, which is less than one and a half teaspoons. 

You may know some of the incredible health benefits of cinnamon, but you should be familiar with some of the surprising side effects of cinnamon.

Side effects of eating too much cinnamon

It turns out, overeating cassia cinnamon has the potential to cause liver damage, mouth sores, low blood sugar, breathing problems, and interactions with some medications.

In some, the compound cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon can cause an allergic reaction that can lead to mouth sores, swelling of the tongue or gums, or a burning or itching sensation. While the symptoms are not necessarily severe, they can be quite uncomfortable. If you experience any of these symptoms after eating cinnamon (it could be in your gum, toothpaste, or mouthwash), you might have an allergy and want to avoid anything with cinnamon. 

Cinnamon can also lower blood sugar, which can be dangerous for anyone with diabetes, especially if taking diabetes medication, according to Healthline. Symptoms of low blood sugar include dizziness, tiredness, and fainting (via Mayo Clinic).

The fine powder of cinnamon can also cause breathing problems, coughing, and gagging if it's inhaled, especially for those with asthma. The cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon can also irritate the throat, further causing breathing problems, according to PubChem. Accidentally inhaling cinnamon, like you would if you try the cinnamon challenge (don't do it), can cause lung inflammation or aspiration pneumonia. 

If you're looking to stay safe while also enjoying the seasonal flavors of cinnamon, be sure to limit your intake or stick with the Ceylon variety, which contains less coumarin.