Is Too Much Cinnamon Bad for You?

The spice cinnamon can add a delicious flavor to both sweet and savory dishes, and it may also have some health benefits. Speak with your doctor before consuming more cinnamon than is typically found in food, however, as this could have some adverse effects.

A bunch of cinnamon sticks on top of ground cinnamon. (Image: ChamilleWhite/iStock/Getty Images)

Potential Benefits

A substance in cinnamon called cinnamaldehyde may act as an antibacterial and antifungal agent, and cinnamon may help you control your blood sugar, although research in this area is still preliminary and conflicting. Some people also use cinnamon as an herbal remedy for gastrointestinal problems, such as bloating, diarrhea, gas and vomiting, but more research is necessary to verify the potential benefits of cinnamon for these conditions, too.

Potential Side Effects

Consuming too much cinnamon could cause problems with breathing, increase your heart rate and cause you to sweat, followed by a period of depression or sleepiness, according to Drugs.com. However, no major reactions have been reported with doses of less than 6 grams per day, or about 1 1/4 teaspoons. Cinnamon might also make rosacea symptoms worse, and cinnamon oil could increase your risk for oral cancers. A natural chemical called coumarin in cinnamon might harm the liver, so people with liver disease should avoid consuming large amounts of cinnamon.

Potential Medication Interactions

Taking large amounts of cinnamon might cause interactions with certain medications, and these interactions could lead to liver damage. These medications include statin medications, acetaminophen, the heart medication amiodarone, the seizure medication carbamazepine, medications for treating fungal infections, the cancer medication methotrexate and the blood pressure medication methyldopa. Because of cinnamon's potential for lowering blood sugar levels, large amounts of it may interact with diabetes medications and cause low blood sugar. Cinnamon may also potentially interact with tetracycline.

Ingesting Dry Cinnamon

It's particularly dangerous to try to eat a large amount of dry cinnamon on its own. Teenagers sometimes try this "cinnamon challenge," and it has led to a number of hospitalizations. It can cause choking and lead to collapsed lungs, according to an article published in "Pediatrics" in May 2013. Ingesting dry cinnamon powder can also cause aspiration pneumonia. More common side effects include burning of the mouth and throat, vomiting, nosebleed, long bouts of coughing and tightness in the chest.

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