Expert Reveals The Truth About Viral TikToker's 'Cinnamon Poisoning'

In his classic children's book "Chocolate Fever," Robert Kimmel Smith writes about a boy named Henry Green who is obsessed with chocolate. He has it every day with every meal, but the excess triggers the world's only known case of "chocolate fever," where Henry is covered in brown spots that emit the aroma of chocolate (via Goodreads).

We can't imagine TikToker Bridgette Garb as having had cinnamon spots, but from the sound of her story, she was as obsessed with cinnamon as the fictional Henry Green was with chocolate. "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," she told BuzzFeed

But a year into her use of cinnamon to spice up her life, Garb began to sense that something wasn't right. "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.'" It was only then that her father did a bit of digging around that he discovered her symptoms were linked to a chemical known as "coumarin," which is found in cinnamon.

But could this really happen?

Too much cinnamon can be toxic

Registered dietitian Trista Best of Balance One Supplements tells Mashed that not only is it possible, but it could happen to anyone that consumes extreme amounts of cinnamon on a daily basis. She confirms cinnamon has health benefits — it can help with glucose control, improve metabolism, and it may even improve immune systems — but like most things, too much is not good.

Best says that the TikToker was likely experiencing the reaction that cinnamon can have on our glucose levels. "When [cinnamon is] consumed daily in large amounts hypoglycemia, low glucose, can occur. As the glucose dropped significantly low, she may have experienced muscle pain and weakness due to the body pulling from stored protein as a source of fuel once glycogen stores were depleted." 

And that's not all, because one of the compounds in cinnamon — coumarin — may be harmful in bigger doses. "There is some developing research that shows large doses can be carcinogenic," Best tells Mashed. "It is thought to promote the growth of tumor cells. Excessive amounts can also ultimately lead to liver damage or stress as the liver is required to filter the large amounts at once."

Still, there is a "safe" quantity cinnamon fans can consume without turning this potentially beneficial spice into a toxin. "Approximately 1 teaspoon of cinnamon per day is enough to get the potential benefits from this spice ... it is generally understood that more than a tablespoon a day is considered too much," she says.