Am I the only one out there allergic to cinnamon??
January 6, 2006 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Am I the only one out there allergic to cinnamon??

Last year I seem to have developed a bad allergy to cinnamon . . . seemingly brought on by chewing an entire pack of Big Red in a single afternoon?!? (big mistake, I know!) Since then even the most trace amounts make my tongue and throat swell up to the size of Tokyo for days, and the doc even gave me an epi-pen to have around just in case. I haven't been able to find out much out about it on the web, and since it's not one of the more "popular" allergies it's not required to be listed on ingredients labels. Instead it just gets lumped under the generic SPICES, and there's no easy way to tell whether or not one of those spices may be cinnamon. So I guess my other question is this: If there's anyone out there in the same situation, have you come across anything out of the ordinary that may have contained cinnamon that I should watch out for? Like obviously Cinnabons and apple pie are out (woe is me!), but I never would have suspected barbeque sauce to contain cinnamon . . . until an hour after I ate that piece of BBQ chicken and could hardly swallow! Just curious if I'm alone in this and/or if there are any pointers. Thanks!
posted by globetrotter30 to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My sister-in-law is allergic to cinnamon, so you are not alone. I don't know if she would have any tips, but based on what I have seen, I would avoid just about all mass-produced cookies and cakes, unless you can somehow verify the ingredients (by calling/emailing the manufacturer, say). I myself would have never thought of BBQ sauce. Cinnamon is sometimes an unexpected ingredient in Mexican food, so watch out for that.

Consider it a good excuse to go to a local bakery and buy fresh cookies and such (so you can check ingredients directly with the chef).
posted by mikepop at 10:40 AM on January 6, 2006

Many curry powders contain cinnamon, and it's used a lot in various styles of middle eastern cooking, so be cautious of those.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:46 AM on January 6, 2006

My boyfriend is allergic to cinnamon - has been for as long as he can remember.

To date, the list has included the expected stuff - apple pie, gingerbread (sometimes), some cereal - and also? cole slaw at a few restaurants in the DC area*.

*Which, luckily he was a waiter at, so he knew what went into the slaw.
posted by FritoKAL at 10:54 AM on January 6, 2006

There are a lot of foods with cinnamon. It's native to India, so any type of curry or Indian/Pakistani food I would be careful with. It's also used quite a bit in Greek and Italian food - and also in chocolate and some types of booze. However - maybe you are not allergic to true cinnamon but cassia? It may be worth checking out before you give up apple pie and curry for life!
posted by sixdifferentways at 11:00 AM on January 6, 2006

Yes, you should verify if you're allergic to just cinnamon or cassia, or both. Also, you should be OK with some candy (e.g. Red Hots), because they're only flavored with artificial cinnamon (which, as far as I know, is probably just pure cinnamal, which is unlikely to be the allergen).
posted by rxrfrx at 11:13 AM on January 6, 2006

Moroccan food frequently has cinnamon in it.
posted by Four Flavors at 11:25 AM on January 6, 2006

My father tends to be allergic to cinnamon. Doesn't kill him, but can make him puff up alarmingly.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:30 AM on January 6, 2006

Buying fresh cookies and staying away from DC cole slaw - now this I can handle! Thanks for the tips on the different ethnic foods. The trick will be remembering when I'm out in restaurants. I've never been allergic to anything before, so it's hard to get into the habit of checking these things out!

Very interesting thoughts on the cassia, too - I'd never even heard of it before . . . do you think cassia would still be listed as "cinnamon" on labels, though? Meaning more research needed on my part? (argh!) And I've often wondered about it maybe not being real cinnamon in some candy, and even in that fateful pack of Big Red I chewed . . . but it just seemed too coincidental to not be related. Again, probably more research needed on my part. But this has been a great start. You guys have given me much to think about, and it's good to know I'm not the only one with this weirdly random problem! Thanks!
posted by globetrotter30 at 11:43 AM on January 6, 2006

I often make coffee with a little cinnamon (not by putting it onto the brewed coffee but by sprinkling some on the grounds before brewing), and there are a few restaurants that do the same. But you could probably detect it with the old sniff test.

Sweet potato, pumpkin, squash, and carrot recipes (even non-dessert ones) often seem to have cinnamon. Maybe stay away from mushy orange vegetables?
posted by staggernation at 11:53 AM on January 6, 2006

I feel your pain, though I seem to have much stronger reactions to the fake stuff.

I try to avoid almost anything with the word "spice" in the name (e.g. pumpkin spice, orange spice, apple spice). The one thing these have in common are cinnamon.

Another huge problem for me is candles and air fresheners. Again, the word "spice" is a big tipoff, though scents contain it as well. I can't go into some stores at Christmastime because all the "holiday spice" products will at the very least have me pulling my inhaler out. My good friends know about this and work hard to avoid using stuff when they know I'll be around (Though this year, as the ultimate friend gesture, I gave a friend a cinnamon candle. She promised to burn it only in her bedroom).

I'm glad to hear someone else has this problem. Thought I was just a freak.
posted by wallaby at 11:58 AM on January 6, 2006

Have any desire to come to Cincinnati for a hot 3-way? I'd skip it because Skyline Chili puts cinnamon in their chili.
posted by mmascolino at 1:11 PM on January 6, 2006

My aunt is allergic to cinnamon. I have no knowledge about weird places where cinnamon appears, but I do know from her that if you want a similar flavor, you can try allspice instead.
posted by advil at 1:15 PM on January 6, 2006

More about cinnamon and cassia at the Penzey's site.
posted by Rash at 1:53 PM on January 6, 2006

also, in the Indian/Pakistani vein, you'll want to avoid Garam Masala, which has cinnamon as an ingrediant.
posted by fireflies to stars at 4:43 PM on January 6, 2006

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one allergic to cinnamon. I have to warn people of this when eating away from home etc. I too actually carry an epi-pen for it "just in case", since my reaction includes itching and burning of the mouth and lips, and trouble swallowing and chest tightness. This just started in the past two years (I'm 21). When I was little, I got a red ring around my mouth if I ate anything with cinnamon in it. I've run into odd things like cinnamon sprinkled on banana pudding, and it being on oriental type wings at a resturant.
posted by sillytigergirl at 8:13 PM on April 19, 2006

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