Cinnamon has been used safely for many years as a flavouring in foods and for its broad range of health benefits however there appears to be some confusion around some interpretation of what ‘true cinnamon’ is. It is one of two common names for only one form of cinnamon bark from the species Cinnamomum verum Syn. zeylanicum. This cinnamon is also called Ceylon cinnamon and it is not contained in our teas, being somewhat less flavoursome and lacking in many of the beneficial nutrients when made into a tea.
Our unique Three Cinnamon blend is made with Vietnamese (Cinnamomum aromaticum), Indonesian (C. burmanni) and Indian (C. bejolghota) cinnamon respectively. All non-verum cinnamon’s are also known rather generically as cassia cinnamon and are the most commonly consumed cinnamons in both Europe and the United States, as well as through most of India, China and elsewhere in Asia. As you may know, the coumarin content of this form of cinnamon tends to be higher when compared with the verum form (but all cinnamon species contain coumarin). Owing to its high coumarin content, its beneficial properties and its unique flavouring characteristics, we include these three types of cinnamon in our Three Cinnamon tea. It is safe for everyone to drink. Our risk-assessment based on EFSA safety factors show that you would need to drink over 42 cups of our Three Cinnamon tea a day for a few weeks for there to be any problem. Of course, no one is going to do that. In all of our planning we assume that we will just drink three cups of any one type of tea a day.
The concerns have stemmed mainly from evidence that liver or kidney toxicity can occur after exposure to high doses of coumarin over prolonged periods. However, this has been shown to be linked to a common detoxification pathway that is not present in humans, namely the 3-hydroxycoumarin pathway, which yields potentially toxic metabolites of coumarin. Humans are generally much less likely to suffer such toxicity because most individuals rely on the much more efficient 7-hydroxycoumarin pathway.
However, there are justifiable concerns with very high intakes of cassia cinnamon when ingested as a ground powder in large quantities by a small subpopulation of individuals who have a genetic defect that prevents the effective biotransformation of coumarins by the liver. This has been the focus of a lot of recent research and risk assessment.
We not only test the total coumarin content of all our cinnamon containing teas at third-party EU laboratories and in our own quality control facility based at our headquarters in Bristol, we also ensure that the total amount available when consumed as a tea would not induce any liver issues — the main potential risk — even in the most susceptible individuals.
Our tea with the most amount of cinnamon is Three Cinnamon. Each cup of Pukka Three Cinnamon tea, based on a single bag infused in boiling hot water (250 mL) for 5 minutes, contains about 7mg coumarins. Clinical evidence suggests that you would need to drink 42 cups of Pukka Three Cinnamon tea for there to be any adverse effects or liver toxicity. Our other teas with cinnamon have the following lower levels of coumarin; Original, Green and Vanilla Chais have 3.2 mg, Revitalise has 2.1mg and Licorice and Cinnamon has 1.2 mg. Our Fibre Plus has 1.5 mg per daily serving and are all well within safe limits.
Bearing in mind variations in susceptibility between individuals, and the incomplete state of knowledge of coumarins, Pukka Herbs offers the following recommendations to ensure the safety of its teas containing Cinnamon, notably Three Cinnamon tea.
- Do not exceed four cups of Pukka Three Cinnamon tea daily within any 2 week period.
- People with liver disease or coumarin sensitivity (polymorphism of CYP2A6 enzyme) should not consume more than one cup of Pukka Three Cinnamon tea daily within any 2 week period, unless otherwise directed by their health professional.
- All of our other teas and supplements containing cinnamon can be used freely according to the recommendations on the packaging.