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Is It Safe To Consume Cinnamon During Pregnancy?

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Is Cinnamon Safe During Pregnancy?

Cinnamon, the flavorful spice, offers several health benefits due to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. But as it can stimulate menstrual flow and even lead to abortion, many pregnant women are wary of it. While using a bit of cinnamon to flavor your cooking shouldn't be a concern, large doses are best avoided during pregnancy to avert risk of allergic reactions or negative drug interactions.

Pregnancy makes even the most carefree souls a little more cautious – and with good reason. With a little one on board, you want to do everything possible to avoid harming your baby or yourself. This means being careful about eating certain foods and using specific herbs and spices while pregnant – even seemingly innocuous ones like cinnamon. Is cinnamon safe during pregnancy?

Why Take Cinnamon At All?

Cinnamon is a great spice to liven up foods both sweet and savory. But it’s also taken for its therapeutic properties. The spice, made from the bark of the Cinnamomum trees, is antimicrobial, antiparasitic, antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, and hepatoprotective (protects the liver). This is why it’s often present in natural or alternative remedies for things like respiratory ailments and wound healing. In addition, it can help lower serum cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood glucose. Its antigastric properties also make it a good treatment for digestive issues.1

Using Cinnamon Before Pregnancy

In some traditional and alternative remedies, cinnamon is prescribed for gynecological ailments such as irregular periods in women who aren’t pregnant.2 Due to its ability to improve insulin resistance, it can also help with diabetes and even protect against metabolic disorders.3 According to one piece of research, taking between 1 and 6 grams of cinnamon every day can significantly bring down your mean fasting serum glucose levels in as little as 40 days.4 If you’re trying to improve your health and nutrition before getting pregnant, cinnamon can be a great addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise regimen.

Safe Consumption Of Cinnamon During Pregnancy

The US Department of Health and Human Services suggests that adults limit their intake of cinnamon to 5 grams a day. The suggested acceptable range of 2 to 5 grams pertains to normal healthy adults who are not pregnant. Currently, there is not enough known about the specific impact of cinnamon on pregnant and lactating women so there is no specific guideline for this group.5

Most experts, including the US Food And Drug Administration, agree that normal dietary intake of cinnamon during pregnancy or while nursing a child should be fine.6 However, you need to be cautious about consuming high medicinal or therapeutic doses of the spice through things like supplements. You should also consult your doctor about possible risks of taking cinnamon in each trimester.

Possible Risks From Cinnamon During Pregnancy

Here’s a look at why you should be wary about taking cinnamon in large amounts while pregnant:

1. Blood Glucose Issues During/After Surgery

One reason cinnamon is best avoided in large amounts is its impact on blood sugar levels. Because it lowers blood glucose, it may cause issues with blood sugar control both during surgery and after.7 This can spell trouble for a woman having a cesarean section. Even if you plan on having a normal delivery, your doctor may have similar concerns in case you end up with any complications that necessitate emergency surgery. For those already on medication to manage blood sugar (due to diabetes or other health issues), cinnamon could negatively interact with this medication as well.

2. Risk Of Bleeding If You Are On Anticoagulants

If you end up requiring a cesarean section or any kind of emergency surgery during your pregnancy, any cinnamon in your system could increase your risk of bleeding. If you are taking any kind of antiplatelet agents or anticoagulants, cinnamon could also lower platelet count and raise your risk of bleeding.8 This is why doctors may suggest you stop consuming cinnamon for a couple of weeks prior to any scheduled surgery.

3. Drug Interactions

If you regularly take any medication, you’ll want to consult your doctor first before consuming cinnamon while pregnant. The spice could potentially interact with the medication and cause adverse reactions. There are no specific drugs listed on this front, so it’s best to check with your doctor about possible interactions. As in the case of certain diabetes medication, cinnamon may even interfere with the proper action of the drug.9

4. Allergic Reactions

You’ll want to be careful about starting the use of cinnamon while pregnant because it could cause an allergic reaction in some people. In fact, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health warns of allergies to cinnamon, so it isn’t as uncommon as you may think.10 In case your body is sensitive or allergic to the spice, it could make you ill or uncomfortable – something you definitely don’t want to deal with while pregnant.

Allergic contact stomatitis or an inflammatory reaction in those allergic to the spice is also quite often accompanied by a burning sensation.11 Research has found that lesions in the mouth appeared in some people as a result of an intraoral contact allergic reaction. Symptoms disappeared when they discontinued use of the spice.12

Does Cinnamon Increase Risk Of Miscarriage?

When it comes to cinnamon and pregnancy, the main concern often has nothing to do with allergies or drug interactions. Instead, it’s the spice’s abortifacient effects, which could increase the risk of miscarriage. One group of experts cautions that large quantities of cinnamon – more than the amounts you would consume in food – may likely be unsafe.13

Cinnamon is also a known emmenagogue –  a substance that stimulates menstrual flow. However, because there is still little research on the potential risk of cinnamon on pregnant women, further evidence is needed.14 While Ayurveda also suggests that cinnamon should be avoided in large amounts while there’s a baby on board, it does recommend the spice as a cleansing treatment after childbirth to purify the uterus.15

While more extensive research is needed to understand the full effects of cinnamon on pregnant women and lactating mothers, it’s best to err on the side of caution and limit your overall intake to what you’d normally consume in your diet. Avoid medicinal doses or supplements of cinnamon during pregnancy.

References   [ + ]

1, 2. Ranasinghe, Priyanga, Shehani Pigera, GA Sirimal Premakumara, Priyadarshani Galappaththy, Godwin R. Constantine, and Prasad Katulanda. “Medicinal properties of ‘true’ cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): a systematic review.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 13, no. 1 (2013): 1.
3. Qin, Bolin, Kiran S. Panickar, and Richard A. Anderson. “Cinnamon: potential role in the prevention of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.” Journal of diabetes science and technology 4, no. 3 (2010): 685-693.
4. Anderson, Richard A. “Chromium and polyphenols from cinnamon improve insulin sensitivity.” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 67, no. 01 (2008):48-53.
5. Cinnamon.US Department of Health and Human Services.
6, 14. Ernst, E. “Herbal medicinal products during pregnancy: are they safe?.” BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 109, no. 3 (2002): 227-235.
7. Davis, Paul A., and Wallace Yokoyama. “Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis.” Journal of medicinal food 14, no. 9 (2011): 884-889.
8, 9, 13. Ulbricht, Catherine, Erica Seamon, Regina C. Windsor, Nicole Armbruester, J. Kathryn Bryan, Dawn Costa, Nicole Giese et al. “An evidence-based systematic review of cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration.” Journal of dietary supplements 8, no. 4 (2011): 378-454.
10. Cinnamon. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
11. Tremblay, Steve, and Sylvie Louise Avon. “Contact allergy to cinnamon: case report.” J Can Dent Assoc 74, no. 5 (2008): 445-461.
12. De Rossi, Scott S., and Martin S. Greenberg. “Intraoral contact allergy: a literature review and case reports.” The Journal of the American Dental Association 129, no. 10 (1998): 1435-1441.
15. Johari, H. “Ayurvedic Healing Cuisine”.