I have recently discovered that I have a food allergy to cinnamon, which took me years to diagnose. A cinnamon allergy is also a difficult allergy to have this time of year with all of the cinnamon spiced baked good around, but even more difficult is the swollen throat, itchy eyes, and runny nose that I have for hours after accidentally eating something with cinnamon in it,
Why Cinnamon Allergies are Hard to Detect
While cinnamon is a common food allergen, most people are not aware they have it, because as a spice, and not a food, it is difficult to pinpoint as the irritating cause of their symptoms. Also, much of the “cinnamon” we purchase in our store is actually cassia, which is a member of the cinnamon family, but true cinnamon. Once again making it difficult to pinpoint exactly what is causing the symptoms. While the apple pie someone ate may be laced with cinnamon, causing an allergic reaction, the churro the same person ate, may have used cassia, not causing a reaction at all, causing the person to rule out cinnamon as the allergen.
Another reason people fail to identify cinnamon as the cause of their allergies is that cinnamon does not have to be individually mentioned on food labels. It can fall under the generic label of “spices.”
Cinnamon Allergy Symptoms and Treatment
While allergic reactions to cinnamon vary from person to person, the most common symptoms are irritation of the throat or tongue, lip and tongue swelling, runny nose, watery and sore eyes, eczema, hives, disturbed sleep, and nausea.
The most common treatment for any allergic reaction is to take an over the counter antihistamine as soon as possible. Benadryl is a common allergy medication that can be purchased at any drug store. A doctor can prescribe a stronger medication for life threatening reactions, including anaphylactic shock.
The best defense to a cinnamon allergy is to avoid cinnamon altogether. Cinnamon can be found in chai drinks, cinnamon rolls (of course), pumpkin breads and pies, apple pies and other apple baked goods,Ã’ spiced cider, cinnamon schnapps (such as Goldschlager), and some granolas and cereals. Mexican, Moroccan, and Indian cuisines can contain cinnamon in their savory dishes
Substituting other spices in baked goods and breads allows cinnamon allergy sufferers to enjoy their favorite baked goods without suffering any side effects. I have had good luck substituting nutmeg and ground cloves for cinnamon. Most people don’t even notice the difference.