When cinnamon hit the headlines as the new sensational spice that could positively affect cholesterol and insulin levels, all of a sudden cinnamon appeared on pharmacy and health food store shelves everywhere. Forget Red Hots and cinnamon rolls, you can now take capsules containing various amounts of cinnamon. Consumer beware, though; there's always a danger of too much of a good thing.
Can Affect the Liver
Cinnamon, specifically cassia cinnamon, contains a naturally occurring chemical called coumarin. It's a substance that can cause liver damage for sensitive people, those who already have issues with their livers. According to "Medical News Today," cassia cinnamon is inexpensive and typically the kind that is sold as a spice and found in most foods that include cinnamon as an ingredient in the U.S.
May Affect Diabetics
Charles Frederick Schafer told readers of his book "Health and Humor" that cinnamon helps control blood sugar. While MedlinePlus agrees that early research suggested that was the case, newer studies are conflicting. Even so, there is enough evidence of the effects of cinnamon on blood sugar levels that MedlinePlus does warn diabetic patients against ingesting large amounts of cinnamon to avoid excessive drops in blood sugar.
Because of the uncertainty of how cinnamon truly affects health, it's wise to avoid taking cinnamon while taking medications for the liver or for diabetes. That includes herbal preparations that could harm your liver, such as comfrey, niacin, chaparral and red yeast. And taking extra cinnamon while also taking herbs and supplements that are supposed to lower blood sugar could result in too much of a drop in levels for some people. If you are taking "natural" preparations such as garlic, guar gum, Siberian ginseng or fenugreek, don't supplement cinnamon along with it.
Since insufficient research has been done to determine what amount of cinnamon is dangerous, it's difficult to say what a safe dose might be. Since cinnamon has been used for centuries in cooking, small amounts normally found in food can be considered safe. The book "Cholesterol Cures" says that a teaspoon or less of cinnamon daily is a small enough amount that it should be nontoxic. Rather than prescribing a cinnamon supplementation regimen for yourself, though, you're better off consulting with your physician. He will know what conditions you have, if any, that will be adversely affected by cinnamon and will be able advise you based on your individual health.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.