A fragrant, sweet, and warm spice, cinnamon is packed with antioxidants that have a host of benefits. It is also a popular digestive agent used routinely in food. While cinnamon-based drinks are often considered a great alternative to caffeine-heavy tea and coffee while you are pregnant, there are some concerns surrounding its possible abortifacient effects.
Does Cinnamon Cause Premature Labor?
Cinnamon is rumored to bring on contractions. If this is true, then by inducing uterine contractions before the due date, you run the risk of going into premature labor – a valid concern if you are pregnant. However, a recent study of the effects of cinnamon extract on isolated rat uterine strips seems to indicate otherwise. Researchers observed the pharmacological as well as physiological effects of the extract, but found it actually helped to significantly reduce the force of the uterine contraction. As such, it might even have benefits for preventing undesirable uterine activity during early phases of pregnancy. So there may not be too much to worry about on this front.1
Herbal Medicine And The Emmenagogue Effects Of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is listed as a herbal medicine that has emmenagogue effects. This means that it boosts blood flow to the pelvic region and uterus, stimulating menstruation. It is also popularly seen as abortifacient, that is, causing an abortion or miscarriage if you are already pregnant (instead of resulting in the onset of the period).2 Again, there is no concrete mainstream medical evidence surrounding this claim, so deciding to have cinnamon will boil down to a personal choice taken along with your doctor.
Cinnamon May Be Good For You, Within Reason
Cinnamon, in regulated amounts, may actually be good for you. The key is to know when to use it, and how much is safe to consume.
Some studies have shown that gestational diabetes, which causes blood sugar levels to be erratic and unstable during pregnancy, may benefit from cinnamon consumption. As one study showed, there were significant reductions in the levels of HbA1c (hemoglobin A1C) and fasting blood glucose levels when cinnamon was taken. The researchers suggested dosage of between one and six grams each day, to be taken with meals. But always consult your doctor before you start having more cinnamon than is usual in your diet or as a supplement.3
Ayurveda And Cinnamon Use During Pregnancy
Ayurveda sees cinnamon as hot, light, and dry. As such, it is good for treating excess wind (vatta), mucus (kapha), and bile (pitta). During the first trimester, if Cinnamon is used in a rice wash combined with sugar, a little honey, some popped paddy powder, cardamom, and cloves, it can help ease vomiting related to aggravated pitta.4
Like modern medicine, Ayurvedic texts suggest avoiding having too much cinnamon while pregnant as it can cause miscarriages if consumed in excess. However, post childbirth, it is indicated for stopping bleeding. It is also believed to help purify the uterus and effectively “cleanse” the system.5
How Much Is Too Much?
Cinnamon can be safely consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. The amount in spices added to enhance the flavor of foods is not high enough to cause any problem. The US Food and Drug Administration says that cinnamon in the amounts usually found in food is safe during pregnancy. However, if you are breastfeeding or pregnant, you are advised to avoid foods which have enhanced or very high levels of cinnamon in them.6
Another thing to consider is an allergy to cinnamon – a possibility with all the changes your body is undergoing. If your reaction to it is adverse, it could put you and your unborn child in harm’s way. So be cautious and make sure you don’t have too much while pregnant, especially if you have never had it before. This is the same consideration you would give any new foods, drinks, or medicines your body is unused to during pregnancy.7
Capsules or pills containing the spice must be avoided (as these contain the spice in high concentration), and any foods or supplements containing cinnamon in very high quantities must be run past your doctor first. This is to ensure your regular medication or pregnancy-related treatments have no adverse interactions with cinnamon. For the same reasons, the use of the intense essential oil is best avoided until it can be completely proven that the possible emmenagogue and abortifacient effects of cinnamon are not a danger, and that your body isn’t allergic to high quantities of the spice.
|↑1||Alotaibi, Mohammed. “The effect of cinnamon extract on isolated rat uterine strips.” Reproductive Biology (2015).|
|↑2, ↑6, ↑7||Ernst, E. “Herbal medicinal products during pregnancy: are they safe?.”BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 109, no. 3 (2002): 227-235.|
|↑3||Maddox, Pauline J. “Cinnamon in the Treatment of Type II Diabetes.” (2016).|
|↑4||Girija, P. LT. “Diet and regimen during pregnancy.”Ancient science of life 28, no. 1 (2008): 40.|
|↑5||Johari, H. “Ayurvedic Healing Cuisine.” Inner Traditions. 2000.|