Cinnamon, the unexpected benefits & injuries

I can confidently say I have done a lot of stupid things in my 28 years, but my experience with cinnamon a few months ago may take the cake. Earlier this year mid-summer, Jake and I were planning on having an early date day and head up to Oceanside as we still haven’t walked the pier. As you all know, I like to lead as natural of a lifestyle as possible, so I figured it would be a cute idea to make my own scented lotion to put on before the date.

This was my first mistake.

Me, the Queen of research, the one that must learn more about EVERYTHING. I yelp restaurants, I spend more time on forums I would like to admit, hell, I extensively research differences in work out socks, the list is endless.

But I didn’t think to look up the usage of essential oils on the skin. I mean really, this should have been common sense.

So, Saturday night, looking fly in my little jean jacket, black and white striped summer dress and full makeup, I walked my naïve butt over to my nightstand (where I keep our essential oils, which I require in my diffuser each night), and running my fingers through the rows of gleaming tiny bottles, I stopped on cinnamon.

Hmm, a few drops of cinnamon and patchouli, surely that would be amazing on my skin for an afternoon of strolling on the beach, right? People wore patchouli all the time. I was picturing it now, “Oooh girl, what perfume are you wearing?!” I would chuckle and toss back my hair and quip, “it’s my own blend”.

Cocky fool. (Also, who is just walking up to me sniffing my neck in this scenario?)

I felt so cute. I plopped a glob of my favorite moisturizer in my palm, carefully squeezed two drops of cinnamon essential oil in, and a drop of the patchouli. I swirled it around and around, rubbed my palms together, and rubbed my neck, chest line, hands, and forearms with my new “perfume”. (Anyone with essential oil knowledge, I know you are shrieking right now).

I sashayed into the living room, I smelled AMAZING. I thought I was so clever as I plopped down on the couch, sliding on my favorite dressy sandals.

That is all it took. From the moment I slathered on the lotion, to finishing securing the last strap on my right sandal. The fire began. It started out as a warm tingle. Kind of like icy hot. “Strange”, I thought to myself, but shrugged it off. Another minute ticked by, the burning intensified. Jake walked in with the dog, exclaiming “MMM you smell good, but your neck looks a little red”. I walked over to the hallway mirror, I do have sensitive skin, maybe I was having a reaction. My neck started to blush, and the heat was getting to the point of unbearable.

I ran into the bathroom and started rubbing my skin with water.

This was my second mistake.

Water spreads the oils apparently (I later discovered, shout out to Jake and Google), now it was running down my chest, and went further up my arms and cheeks.  

At this point I was scared, I was beet red and splotchy. Jake comes into the bathroom, “What the hell is going on? What did you do?” Half laughing, half crying, while frantically scrubbing my neck “I put cinnamon essential oil into my lotion so I could use it as a natural perfume”. Staring nervously, repeating our house mantra, “did you Google it first?”. Looking away, I muttered “No”, scouring my raw skin. “Jeez Allie, you know the rules!”. He rushed into the kitchen grabbed his phone, and shouts “STOP PUTTING WATER ON IT YOU ARE MAKING IT WORSE”.

25 minutes later, a phone call to my R.N. mother for a consultation and a cup of coconut oil later, my skin started to calm down.

Date night was cancelled. Earlier I was preparing to be stopped by beach paparazzi, instead I thought giving myself a chemical burn was more thrilling.

Luckily, I responded quickly enough, and I didn’t scar or cause any permanent damage. My issue was that I didn’t dilute the oil enough (cough cough-at all) and cinnamon essential oil is a very “hot” essential oil, and it is extremely crucial to properly dilute it.

Honestly, I laughed at myself the entire time, after the initial panic diminished. I kept muttering to myself “you are such an idiot”, cackling at the sheer stupidity.

Jake was quick to Google action and made sure I used coconut oil to get the oil off of my skin, and within twenty minutes the burning had subsided. Two hours later (after icing it) the horrible red splotchy skin was back to normal.

Lesson learned.

Surprisingly enough, this hilarious and painful experience did not dilute (get it) my unwavering love for cinnamon in all its capacity.

While researching the effects of cinnamon oil, I learned a lot about the powerful spice along the way.

Did you know it is more than likely that you have never tasted real cinnamon? No, this isn’t a trick. It is absolutely true! I was floored when I found out.

There are two main types of cinnamon, one is the common variety, called Cassia, which is found among most U.S. grocery stores. The other type of cinnamon, which its name literally means “true”, is Ceylon cinnamon, native to Sri Lanka. Both Ceylon and cassia are ripe with health benefits, I go into more detail in my elixir post here of the healing benefits, but there is one crucial difference between the two spices. Ceylon is much lower in Coumarin, possibly up to 250 times less in fact, this article explains more. Coumarin can be toxic to humans, causing organ damage when taken in large doses. One to two teaspoons can cause an overdose of sorts in some cases.

I know what you are thinking, “what did I just click on? Cinnamon death post?”. No, not a cinnamon death post, although it would be a good band name. I just want to make sure you know of the imposter lurking on the grocery store shelves! Cinnamon is extremely good for the human body, and I have always known this, I just wasn’t aware that I was consuming the wrong cinnamon this entire time.

Obviously, there are substantial health benefits to both Cassia and Ceylon. They are both incredible for diabetes, and I myself know the miracle effects of raw honey and a teaspoon of cinnamon. But the two are not created equally.

Once I discovered I had a traitor in my cupboard, I hopped on Amazon, and in a typing fury, a big bag of this Ceylon cinnamon was on the way to my doorstep.

I had to see if it was REALLY that different. Especially for the price. I knew the toxicity factor was proven, but was it really that different of a taste, or smell? The reviews were incredible, everyone was raving about this Ceylon cinnamon.

I was skeptical, I am a part of the health world. I know there are products out there that people claim are worlds above the rest because of the label, but are just the same as the cheaper versions. I had to try it myself.

You guys. I will never go back. I am not bullshitting you. The minute I opened that bag, I knew it was a superior product and I could safely consume a teaspoon of this and enjoy it.

The differences? Cassia cinnamon, the evil traitor I have been in love with all these years, is grittier, and bitter compared to Ceylon. The taste difference between the two was outrageous. Ceylon is nutty, slightly spicy, silky, and the aroma is indescribable. Every time I open the bag, I feel like it is Christmas. The scent transports me to another world and time.

But, I am particularly snobby according to Jake, so I wanted to see if he could tell the two spices apart. Jake loves my food, but he typically isn’t enthusiastic when I ask him twenty questions about something that isn’t that important to him. He thought that the Ceylon was the clear winner, or as he put it “that other stuff tastes like crap compared to that expensive stuff you bought”.

Good old Jake. I can always expect a well thought out review when I am shoving spoons in his face.

If you love to use cinnamon as often I do, and use it as a supplement when you have a cold; I highly suggest investing in a bag of Ceylon. It is a bit pricy, but how often are you going to go through a pound of cinnamon? If you do want to continue to utilize cassia cinnamon, I just suggest supplementing with a smaller amount due to the coumarin.

Also, whatever you do, do not put cinnamon essential oil on your skin without doing your research. You may end up spending your date night massaging your skin with coconut oil and holding an ice pack to self-inflicted burns.

I still smelled good though.