You love everything about cinnamon. Your favorite drink is cinnamon coffee or herbal cinnamon tea. Then there are the cinnamon buns that you’re partial to. You have become pregnant and are about to enter into your second trimester.
Someone has mentioned to you that cinnamon can cause miscarriages. Now you’re worried. Is it true?
Cinnamon does provide a lot of health benefits for both pregnant and non-pregnant women alike. The issues around potential health problems lay in the type of cinnamon and the amount you consume. Too much can cause potential issues.
Does that mean that cinnamon can cause a miscarriage? Keep reading to find out.
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Two types of cinnamon
In the world of cinnamon, there are two main contenders: Cassia and Ceylon.
Ceylon is the more common variety and originated from China. Cassia cinnamon is found primarily in Sri Lanka and South India. Though both provide a range of health benefits, which we will look at shortly, the cassia variety does have coumarin.
Coumarin is generally safe in small doses but can cause health issues when consumed in large quantities.
What are the health benefits of cinnamon?
Before we look at what is deemed to be a safe amount of cinnamon to have, let’s run you through the advantages it offers for pregnant women.
Strengthens the immune system
During pregnancy, a female’s immune system goes through some dramatic changes. These put the expectant mother at a higher risk of obtaining an infection or illness. That also poses a risk for the baby.
Cinnamon contains antioxidants that help boost the immune system.
Could reduce blood pressure
Pregnancy can lead to an increase in blood pressure. If you were susceptible to high blood pressure before becoming pregnant, your risk is compounded.
There are several types of blood pressure associated with pregnancy:
- Chronic hypertension: This can occur within the first 20 weeks of the pregnancy. It can be hard to diagnose due to a lack of symptoms.
- Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia: This may be experienced by females who have a pre-existing case of chronic hypertension before becoming pregnant. The blood pressure continues to rise during the pregnancy.
- Preeclampsia: A condition that arises when hypertension occurs from the 21st week of the pregnancy. If left untreated, preeclampsia can cause damage to organs such as the liver, kidneys, or brain. It can also prove fatal to the expectant mother as well as the baby.
- Gestational hypertension: Typically this appears after the 20th week of the pregnancy. It can grow into a case of preeclampsia.
Studies have shown that cinnamon could lead to a reduction in blood pressure. Though the evidence is still limited.
Possibly help in decreasing inflammation
As the baby grows during the pregnancy, extra weight and stress are put on your joints. You start to experience the pain of inflammation.
Research also has shown that inflammation can have a drastic effect on the baby’s brain development. A high level of inflammation may contribute to the baby developing a mental illness or similar issues.
Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties that can offer protection for both mother and baby.
Can help combat gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes occurs when your blood sugar level increases as a result of the pregnancy. It’s most likely to arise in the final two trimesters, but this form of diabetes can happen at any time during the pregnancy.
Typically it goes away after the birth of the child.
The health risks of gestational diabetes can be:
- An early birth
- High birth weight of the child
- Problems with breathing
- Increases the chance of becoming obese
- You are more susceptible to getting type-2 diabetes as you get older
- A stillbirth
The main contributing factor to gestational diabetes is the body not being able to produce enough insulin. However, cinnamon contains polyphenols which can aid in enhancing insulin sensitivity. That allows your body to take better advantage of glucose.
Good for blood vessels
Because cinnamon is a spice, it can help remove plaque caused by cholesterol. That makes your blood vessels clean and healthy.
It enables unaffected blood flow to occur between mother and baby. Also, at the time of birth, blood loss from the mother is reduced.
Side effects of cinnamon
Cinnamon has its good side, as we have just seen. However, there can be a darker side to this spice when it is taken at excessive levels.
You may have an allergy
If you have an allergic reaction to cinnamon, you need to stop consuming it. The typical symptoms are that your mouth and tongue start to itch. A rash appears on your skin. You could experience trouble breathing.
Allergic reactions while pregnant may affect the unborn child’s brain development. That could make your child more likely to have a psychiatric disorder.
It can influence your level of bleeding
Platelets are cells that reside in your bone marrow. They help in clotting blood. If you don’t have enough (this can vary from 150,000 to 400.000 platelets per microlitre of blood), then you run the risk of not stemming blood flow.
Cinnamon can contribute to a reduction in the number of platelets. That exposes you to a chance of experiencing complications when it’s time for the baby to be born (or if you have a C-section).
If you are taking blood-thinning medication, you should avoid cinnamon in your diet.
You could get heartburn or indigestion
Eating spicy food (like cinnamon)increases the probability of you getting heartburn. Though it doesn’t harm your unborn child, it’s a discomfort you want to avoid.
There is also the possibility that you experience indigestion.
You could damage your liver
We mentioned at the beginning of this article that the cassia type of cinnamon contains coumarin. This can be toxic when consumed in large quantities.
You not only run the risk of having the toxin affect your unborn child, but it could also harm your liver.
If you have a pre-existing liver problem, you potentially increase the chance of your child being lost during the pregnancy.
Cinnamon could lead to a miscarriage
Research has shown that cinnamon can lead to a miscarriage. However, it all depends on how much cinnamon you consume. As we mentioned, too much has the potential to affect your health and raise the possibility of you losing your child before birth.
There is debate about how much is considered too much. That’s because the research is still limited in this area.
Yet, there are guidelines offered by health professionals.
What is a safe level of cinnamon?
The question isn’t really about how much cinnamon is considered an acceptable level when it comes to health issues. It’s about how much coumarin is seen to be a safe amount to consume each day.
Some experts recommends that a person should consume 0.05 mg of coumarin for each pound of body weight. This is a suggested level as it doesn’t run the risk of you getting side effects from the cinnamon.
Others suggests that an ideal daily intake of cinnamon should be limited to between ½ to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder. This contains up to 4 grams of cinnamon. However, there is research that has used up to 6 grams of cinnamon without any adverse effect on health.
The warning is that too much coumarin is toxic.
Take care with the cinnamon
If you are pregnant, cinnamon can be a blessing. However, you need to safeguard against any side effects. There is a chance that consuming cinnamon in excessive amounts could result in a miscarriage.
Here are some don’ts that you need to adhere to as an expectant mother:
- Avoid having too much cinnamon. If you’re in doubt, the wisest thing to do is avoid cinnamon altogether.
- Don’t take cinnamon supplements as these contain high levels of cinnamon
- Think twice about using cinnamon oil. This also has similar health issues as the supplements. That is, it can expose you to too much cinnamon.
- Don’t have cinnamon if you have underlying health issues that will be aggravated by it.
Let’s run you through some do’s of cinnamon:
- Do consume the spice in moderation. Strictly abide by the recommended daily intake of 1 teaspoon of powder.
- Do seek professional advice if you start to experience the side effects of cinnamon.
- If you have a high-risk pregnancy, keep away from cinnamon.
Cinnamon has been used as a spice for thousands of years. It provides a range of health benefits.
The antioxidants contained within the spice can boost immunity systems. A great benefit for expectant mothers who find their immunity weakened because of hormonal changes associated with the pregnancy.
Cinnamon can also alleviate joint aches thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
However, cinnamon isn’t always a health ally. Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin. In small amounts, coumarin isn’t something to be concerned about. Yet, when you consume it excessively it proves toxic.
There is the possibility that you damage your liver. Too much coumarin may also cause a miscarriage.
How much cinnamon is deemed to be acceptable is an ongoing medical research project. The current consensus is that you shouldn’t have more than one teaspoon of cinnamon powder a day.
If you are concerned about the effect cinnamon may have on your pregnancy, then play it safe: avoid cinnamon until after the birth.