In 2015, 27-year-old Bridgette Garb had a seemingly harmless obsession with cinnamon. "I’d put tablespoons (yes tablespoons, plural) in my oatmeal. I’d sprinkle it in my coffee grounds, on my fruit, in my yogurt, cinnamon rice, French toast...I’d even put it on my scrambled eggs — sounds gross, I know," Bridgette told BuzzFeed.
About a year into her excess use of the popular spice, Bridgette started to notice a decline in her overall health. "I became frequently dizzy and lightheaded. I developed terrible hypoglycemia and was always pulling muscles and hurting myself," she said. "I was taking multiple dance classes at this time and found it difficult to participate and often had to sit out. I knew that it had to be more than just being 'over tired.'"
Bridgette's dad — who happens to be a doctor — had taken note of her hankering for cinnamon and had some suspicions about it possibly being tied to her ailments. "He did some research and discovered that Cassia cinnamon contains a naturally occurring chemical called coumarin. When consumed in excess, it can cause many of the symptoms I experienced and others. Upon learning this information, I decided it was worth giving it up cold turkey to see if that would solve my problems," she said.
Sure enough — cinnamon was the culprit! "I immediately began to feel better after cutting out cinnamon, but it took about a year to get completely back to normal," Bridgette said. Recently, she made a TikTok about her story, which now has over a million views on the platform.
To glean more information about the potential dangers of cinnamon, BuzzFeed reached out to Dr. Nighat Arif, a UK-based general practitioner who specializes in women's health. Just like Bridgette's dad had found in his research, Dr. Nighat said the key ingredient to watch out for was coumarin. "Coumarin is a chemical compound found in several plants, including cinnamon, that can cause liver damage in large doses," she told BuzzFeed. "The only type of cinnamon that coumarin is not present in is ceylon, which means it has the wonderful benefits of cinnamon without this drawback."
"In Germany, there are even guidelines of how much coumarin is tolerable. The Germans recommend 0.1 milligram per 2.2 pounds of body weight."
Dr. Nighat said as long as you check the label to make sure the cinnamon you're buying doesn't have coumarin in it, the spice can be very beneficial to your health. "It helps better [the body's] sugar storage, improves insulin sensitivity in the liver, and helps sugar control," she said. "It's also an antioxidant, therefore it helps neutralize free radicals — preventing them from damaging cells in the body. It's a brilliant spice — I use it in my tea, cooking, etc., but only a tiny amount...not teaspoons or tablespoons!"
If you're someone who's interested in regularly consuming cinnamon, some experts have suggested using 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (aka 2–4 grams) of the spice a day.