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Cinnamon

Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, Cinnamomum aromaticum). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 - Contraindications: Pregnancy and lactation. Not enough is known about the use of cinnamon during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Warning 2 - Diabetes: In their latest paper, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Anderson et al. said that cinnamon increases the body's insulin-dependent ability to use glucose roughly 20-fold. Because cinnamon may lower blood sugar, people with diabetes may need to adjust their treatment if they use cinnamon supplements.

Warning 3 - Blood thinners:: Cinnamon has a mild anti-clotting effect in the blood, which could be beneficial, but it is conceivable that too much could cause bleeding problems, especially when combined with medications that "thin the blood" such as aspirin, warfarin, and others.

Warning 4 - Hepatotoxic drugs: Medications that can harm the liver interact with cinnamon. Taking large amounts of cinnamon along with medications that might also harm the liver might increase the risk of liver damage. Do not take large amounts of cinnamon if you are taking a medication that can harm the liver. These include:
  • acetaminophen (Tylenol and others)
  • amiodarone (Cordarone)
  • carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • isoniazid (INH)
  • methotrexate (Rheumatrex)
  • methyldopa (Aldomet)
  • fluconazole (Diflucan)
  • itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • erythromycin (Erythrocin, Ilosone, others)
  • phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • lovastatin (Mevacor)
  • pravastatin (Pravachol)
  • simvastatin (Zocor)
An article in Clinical Toxicology, "Essential Oil Poisoning" (Issue Volume 37, Number 6/1999) voiced concerns about the risks of very high quantities of cinnamon. An ingredient in some cinnamon products, coumarin, may be toxic, particularly in people with liver problems.

Warning 5 - Breast cancer: People who have cancer that is affected by hormone levels like breast cancer should not take cinnamon supplements.

Warning 6 - Surgery: Cinnamon may affect blood sugar and might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking cinnamon supplements at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Used as a natural health remedy: Cinnamon is used internally for the following benefits and conditions:
  • Anti-clotting action: A compound found in Cinnamon called as cinnamaldehyde has been well-researched for its effects on blood platelets. Platelets are constituents of blood that are meant to clump together under emergency circumstances (like physical injury) as a way to stop bleeding. Under normal circumstances they can make the blood flow inadequate if they clump together too much. The cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood platelets.
  • Arthritis pain: A study conducted at Copenhagen University, where patients were given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning had significant relief after one week and could walk without pain within a month. (See other herbs for inflammation)
  • Brain Tonic: Cinnamon boosts the activity of the brain and hence acts as a good brain tonic. It helps in removing nervous tension and memory loss.
  • Digestive Tonic: Cinnamon should be added to most recipes. Apart from adding flavor to the food, it also aids in digestion. Cinnamon is very effective for indigestion, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea and flatulence. It is very helpful in removing gas from the stomach and intestines. It also removes acidity, diarrhea and morning sickness. It is often referred to as a digestive tonic.
  • Ease menstruation cycles: Cinnamon has been found useful for providing relief from menstrual cramping and other feminine discomforts.
  • Fight Cancer: A study released by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland showed that cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells. Cinnamon can also help to remove bile, which prevents damage to colon cells.
  • Headaches and migraine: Headache due to the exposure to cold wind is readily cured by applying a thin paste of powdered cinnamon mixed in water on the temples and forehead.
  • Heart Disease: It is believed that the calcium and fiber present in cinnamon provides protection against heart diseases and heart related disorders.
  • High blood pressure
  • Immune System: Honey and cinnamon paste is used to boost the immune system, reducing fatigue and increasing the longevity. It is also thought to have anti-aging properties.
  • Itching: Paste of honey and cinnamon is often used topically to treat insect bites.
  • Menstrual periods: stop excessive bleeding
  • Mouthwash: Cinnamon has traditionally been used to treat toothache and fight bad breath. Small pieces of cinnamon can be chewed or gargled with cinnamon water which serves as a good mouth freshener.
  • Muscle and joint pain relief: Those who eat cinnamon on a regular basis often report less muscle and joint pain, as well as stiffness.
  • Pimples and Blackheads: Cinnamon helps in removing blood impurities. Therefore it is often recommended for pimples. An external application of paste of cinnamon powder with a few drops of fresh lemon juice is reported to give a beneficial result.
  • Reduce Arthritis Pain: Cinnamon contains anti-inflammatory compounds, which can be useful in reducing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
  • Reduce cholesterol (1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon in daily diet)
  • Reduce Urinary tract infections: People who eat cinnamon on a regular basis report a lower incidence of urinary tract infections. Cinnamon is diuretic in nature and helps in secretion and discharge of urine.
  • Reduces blood sugar levels: Several studies have shown improved insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control by taking as little as teaspoon of cinnamon per day.
  • Relieve loss of breath
  • Respiratory Problems: Cinnamon is used as a home remedy for common and severe colds. A person suffering should take one tablespoon of honey with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder daily for 3 days. Cinnamon has also been found to helpful for flu, influenza, sore throat and congestion.
  • Revitalize clogged arteries and veins
  • Smelling cinnamon may boost cognitive function, memory, performance of certain tasks and increases one's alertness and concentration.
  • Strengthen the heart
  • Cinnamon is a natural diuretic and contributes to urinary discharge.
  • The German Commission E has approved cinnamon for loss of appetite, dyspepsia, bloating and flatulence (i.e. GI tract).
  • Thinning of the blood and improve blood circulation: Cinnamon is a blood thinning agent which also acts to increase circulation. This blood circulation helps significantly in removing pain. Good blood circulation also ensures oxygen supply to the body cells leading to higher metabolic activity.
  • Toning of tissues: Considerable anecdotal evidence exists to suggest that cinnamon may have the ability to tone and constrict tissues in the body.
  • Yeast infections: In some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections.

Side Effects of Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the safest herbs and usually causes no side effects when consumed in amounts commonly used in food.

Heavy use of cinnamon (more than half a teaspoon twice a day) may irritate the mouth and lips, causing sores. Using large amounts of cinnamon can produce acute cinnamon toxicity resulting in facial flushing, shortness of breath, tachycardia, dizziness, and abdominal pain.

Applied to the skin, cinnamon can cause redness and irritation.

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

Other side effects may also occur when using cinnamon. (See form below)

Consumers suggest the following uses

Make paste of powder cinnamon and honey and use as a jam, take regularly for breakfast.

Mix 1/2 teaspoon a day in with your almond butter. Delicious!

Dieting: Slimming - Mix 1 Tablespoon of honey and 1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon in one cup water. Take in morning (daily) 1/2 hour before breakfast and on empty stomach and at night before sleep, cures obesity if taken regularly as it prevents fat from accumulation in the body.

To Lower Cholesterol: Mix 2 tablespoons honey and 3 teaspoons of cinnamon powder with 16 oz. of tea water. "It reduces cholesterol level in the body by 10% within 2 hours."

Arthritis: use 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon and 2 tsp. honey in a glass of water daily.

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This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright 2011 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on Cinnamon and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Sources: Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines, American Botanical Council, and those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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