Dangers of Cassia Cinnamon
Since it is grown extensively in China and other countries, Cassia cinnamon is easily available and economically priced. But while it is widely used to add flavour and fragrance to processed foods and oral health products, very few people are aware of the hidden health hazards associated with the inclusion of Cassia cinnamon in the diet. Cassia cinnamon contains comparatively high levels of coumarin - a fragrant chemical but toxic when consumed in large quantities or over prolonged periods. Coumarin is a carcinogenic phytochemical, and research has established the relation between high consumption of Cassia cinnamon and the prevalence of liver cancer in rats and mice.
Consumption of coumarin over a prolonged period can damage the liver and affect its functioning in the human body. The link between coumarin and liver damage in humans remains to be conclusively proven but studies indicate that the danger of regularly consuming Cassia cinnamon is real and cannot be ignored. If regular consumption of cassia cinnamon is accompanied by symptoms of liver damage, it’s advisable to check for high levels of coumarin in the body.
Apart from liver damage, there are a number of other side-effects associated with coumarin-based medications. Coumarin also has anticoagulant properties, and typical health problems arising from prolonged usage of coumarin-rich Cassia cinnamon or medications include uncharacteristic bleeding, blood in the stools or urine, blurred vision, sluggish appetite, persistent headaches, diarrhoea and nausea. The ill-effects of coumarin usage appear to be reversible but doctors strongly advise that it is better to stay away from substances that are high in coumarin content.
Due to the potential health risks posed by coumarin, pregnant and lactating women, and children are advised to avoid consumption of Ceylon cinnamon.
Laboratory tests show that cinnamon extracted from the Cassia bark contained high concentrations of coumarin. In comparison, Ceylon cinnamon, grown only in Sri Lanka, has negligible levels of the toxin. Considering the benefits, Ceylon cinnamon is therefore considered as safe for consumption, even in moderately high quantities.