Cinnamon Invasion

At my biannual tooth cleaning this morning, the hygienist tried to polish my teeth with cinnamon toothpaste. As soon as I smelled it, I jumped even higher than I did when she sprayed a sensitive tooth with cold water, then asked incredulously, “Is that cinnamon?” As if using cinnamon toothpaste is completely beyond the realm of acceptable behavior.

I’d already had her get Vaseline for my lips (so they wouldn’t crack while she was cleaning) and put on latex-free gloves (they give me cold sores), so I hated to be even more high-maintenance, but there was no choice. After a look of shock passed over her face, she kindly offered me a choice of cherry, mint or orange toothpaste. But she did complain that she’d already loaded the tool with cinnamon.

It seems like such a small thing, but for me it was disaster averted. If only I could convince grocery stores and gift shops that cinnamon-scented wreaths and air freshener are harmful to my health. The onslaught began a couple weeks ago with fall decorations and will continue through Christmas. Ugh.

11 thoughts on “Cinnamon Invasion”

  1. Ah, it’s not just me, then! Cinnamon tea gives me a very unusual “hot” headache where my head and cheeks are flushed. Cinnamon scents (like scented markers back in grade school) caused this to a lesser extent. Funny enough, I tried several types of cinnamon powder in baking. With Penzey’s brand spices at least, “Ceylon” cinnamon doesn’t give me problems, but their Chinese “Tung aging” cinnamon does. The Ceylon cinnamon has a light smell, but the Tung Hing has a bold, almost oily smell… like what you would smell in an apple pie. I use the Ceylon in my apple pies with no ill effect.

    1. Hi Eric, you’re definitely not alone in this. The different types of cinnamon are interesting, aren’t they? I also went to Penzeys! The ceylon is a trigger for me, but the korintje isn’t. I’m glad you found one that works for you.

      Take care,

  2. Im glad that after reading this blog im not alone in the cinamon symptoms of my headache.
    I was going crazy with them. i try many different things to stop them but they wouldnt go away until i stop having cinamon powder on my porridge.who would it thought that my headaches started at the same time two months ago when i decided to have cinamon powder every morning because i just loved it.but since now discovering that gives me heaches i wont have it never again.
    Also i read that cinamon can cause heaches because of its content of acetylicilyc acid.That would it make a lot of sense that whenerever i took a pain killer or anti-imflammatory tablets my headache would make it worse because pain killer have the salicylic acid.

  3. I’m so glad I just found this blog. I’ve also been a migraine sufferer since childhood. With the help of chiropractic and completely eliminating chocolate from my life, I have almost eliminated headaches… But now I’ve noticed that cinnamon gives me headaches. I started sprinkling some in my coffee and on my Rice Chex (because, yes, I’m also gluten intolerant) for extra flavor because I am also sugar sensitive. And the headaches started. I thought I was going nuts. How is this possible? I love cinnamon! It was my go-to spice to make me feel like I was having a dessert. Ugh!

    1. Donna, I’m glad this was helpful. You may find that a different type of cinnamon is OK. Korintje is the only one I can handle and I have no trouble with it. Here’s a roundup of the types of cinnamon: (I don’t know how reputable the website is, but the basic information about types seems to be correct). Penzey’s sells four different varieties. If you have a store in your area (and want to brave the risk of a headache), you can go in and smell the different ones to see what might work for you.

      Take care,

  4. Wow , I’m not alone . It’s the end of August and I just walked into the grocery store and was blasted with synthetic cinnamon , instant migraine. Schools will allow boys to use girls bathrooms and visa versa but we can get chemical smells out of public places. I have multi chemical sensitivity, perfume, cleansers, diesel, gasoline etc..,, cause migraines, hard to survive in this world. Glad they now offer online shopping and deliver to car but, I would
    Like to actually pick my food out. Guess I have to wait until spring.

  5. Interesting about the cinnamon triggering headaches. My husband puts cinnamon sticks in the coffee pot, and within the past year, if I drank that coffee I ended up with enormous throbbing headaches. I thought it was the coffee, some difference in different brands, but it seems now to be the cinnamon that he occasionally adds that triggers headaches.

    Wishing you well,

  6. Oh yes! Oh yes! Oh yes! Cinnamon gets a headache/migraine started for me like a match to gunpowder. I thought I was just imagining this but now I know the same thing is happening to someone else.

    And just in case you thought the triggers were set in stone – this one is a new one for me. I have had these freakin’ migraines since I was a teenager (which was a LONG time ago Honey) and cinnamon has just emerged as a trigger in the last 3 years. Yipee. This is especially difficult when I go to a craft store since they seem to delight in overloading the sales floor w/cinnamon candles, cinnamon potpourri, cinnamon candy etc., etc., etc., during the Christmas season (which now seems to start somewhere around Easter.)

    Oh and btw – Powells Books – just awesome. I may live way out here on the East Coast but I LOVE Powells.

    Cary – I’m sending you both much positive chi and caring thoughts.

  7. Hi again, Cary. I’ve just read your blog and Lori’s blog. Sorry for saying that I hope her chemo is over soon. I was hoping for a rosy outlook, like you talk about with Lance Armstrong, with a relatively short, defined period of chemo. Now I understand (and feel pretty darn insensitive).

    Your blog is an incredible gift to Lori and her blog is beautifully revealing. Your love for each other practically spills off the screen. You two are in my thoughts.

    Take care.


    for readers who would like to see their blogs, Cary’s is at and Lori’s is at

  8. Hi Cary,

    I’m so sorry to hear that your wife’s chemo is giving her terrible headaches, which I’m sure is on top of a bunch of other side effects. I hope that her chemo won’t last too much longer. Have you found anything to help make the headaches more bearable?

    And, yes, cinnamon triggers headaches for me. I’m OK with some natural cinnamon, but too much of it or any artificial cinnamon makes me ill. Rose is the only other one that’s so strong for me, but I can’t handle many artificial smells.

    I wish you and your wife the best of luck. Take care.


  9. Wow…for someone like me who doesn’t know your whole story, this is a really intriguing post.

    Does the scent of cinnamon set off your headaches? If so, that mus be incredibly difficult during the Christmas season. Uggh!

    My wife has cancer, and her chemotherapy treaments cause her to have horrible headaches on most days. It is absolutely debilitating. I can truly sympathize.

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