Why does cinnamon burn?

In this brief guide we will answer and discuss the query, “why does cinnamon burn?”.  We will also discuss whether cinnamon is a spice or a herb.

Why does cinnamon burn?

Cinnamon contains a compound called cinnamaldehyde. When this compound comes into contact with the mucous membranes in your mouth, it causes them to swell. This swelling irritates the nerves in your mouth, causing a burning sensation.

These receptors are found in the gastrointestinal tract and are responsible for sensing and regulating body temperature. 

Cinnamon also contains a compound called eugenol. This compound has a similar effect to cinnamaldehyde, but it is not as strong. Eugenol is responsible for the spicy taste of cinnamon. 

When you eat cinnamon, the cinnamaldehyde and eugenol compounds cause the TRPV1 receptors in your gut to become activated.

 When they are activated, they send a signal to your brain that your body is too hot. Your brain then responds by increasing blood flow to your skin. This increased blood flow makes you feel flushed and your skin may feel hot to the touch. (1)

Is cinnamon spicy?

Yes. Cinnamon owes its spicy taste and delightful fragrance to the presence of cinnamaldehyde, a compound that develops as a result of oxygen absorption.

As cinnamon ages, it undergoes a natural darkening process, which enhances the formation of resinous compounds, further intensifying its unique properties. (2) 

Other chemicals that contribute to this spice’s peppery flavor include eugenol (which can be found in cloves, nutmeg, and oregano), linalool (found in lavender), and safrole, which gives some varieties of cinnamon a spicy kick. (3)

What is the composition of cinnamon essential oil?

Cinnamon has a wide range of essential oils, such as trans-cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, eugenol, L-borneol, caryophyllene oxide, b-caryophyllene, L-bornyl acetate, E-nerolidol, α-cubebene, α-terpineol, terpinolene, and α-thujene. (2)

Cinnamon essential oil, obtained from the bark, primarily consists of cinnamaldehyde (56-78%) and eugenol (4-10%). 

On the other hand, in essential oil derived from cinnamon leaves, eugenol takes precedence as the main compound, ranging from 60-77%. 

The composition and proportions of these components can vary significantly, influenced by factors such as the cinnamon species, the specific plant part used (bark, leaves, root bark, or buds), and the age of the plant. 

For instance, certain species like Cinnamomum cassia can contain exceptionally high levels of cinnamaldehyde (80-90%) with minimal eugenol content, while the bark of Cinnamomum zeylanicum typically contains 60-80% cinnamaldehyde and approximately 2% eugenol. (3)

What are the risks with consuming large doses of cinnamon at once?

There are some risks associated with consuming large doses of cinnamon at once. Cinnamon is a caustic powder composed of cellulose fibers, which neither dissolve nor biodegrade in the lungs. 

The powder quickly dries out the mouth, which makes swallowing the powder very difficult. Coughing and burning sensations in the mouth, nose, and throat ensue.(4)

The choking risk can be avoided by adding the cinnamon to food but a burning sensation in the gastrointestinal system may occur at a large intake. 

It may also cause lethargy, double vision, vomiting, lightheadedness, and irritation of the skin and urinary tract.(5)

Is cinnamon healthy?

Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and blood-sugar-lowering properties. These health benefits make cinnamon a great addition to your diet. 

Cinnamon can help improve your cardiovascular health. The antioxidants in cinnamon can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by protecting the arteries from damage. 

Cinnamon can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Cinnamon has also been shown to be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes. 

Cinnamon can help improve blood sugar control by increasing insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels. Cinnamon can also help reduce the risk of complications from diabetes such as nerve damage and kidney disease. 

Cinnamon can also help boost your cognitive function. The antioxidants in cinnamon can help improve memory and protect the brain from age-related damage. Cinnamon can also help increase attention span and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (6)

Other FAQs about Cinnamon that you may be interested in.

Does cinnamon increase acid reflux?

How long does cinnamon sticks last?

Does cinnamon go bad


In this brief guide, we have discussed the query, “why does cinnamon burn?” We have also discussed how cinnamon helps in reducing acid reflux. 


  1. He, W.; Liang, L.; Zhang, Y. Pungency Perception and the Interaction with Basic Taste Sensations: An Overview. Foods, 12, 2317. 2023.
  2. Rao PV, Gan SH. Cinnamon: a multifaceted medicinal plant. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.2014:642942. 2014.
  3. Ribeiro-Santos, R., Andrade, M., Madella, D., Martinazzo, A. P., de Aquino Garcia Moura, L., de Melo, N. R., & Sanches-Silva, A.  Revisiting an ancient spice with medicinal purposes: Cinnamon. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 62, 154–169.(2017).
  4. Bosmia AN, Leon KJ. Lung injury and the cin-namon challenge: college students should beware this Internet dare. J Inj Violence Res. 7(1):41-2. 2015
  5. Muhammad, D. R. A., & Dewettinck, K.  Cinnamon and its derivatives as potential ingredient in functional food—A review. International Journal of Food Properties, 1–27. 2017.
  6. Ali Ahmadi, et. al. Therapeutic potential of cinnamon for neurological disorders: A mini-review Neurology Asia; 27(1) : 1 – 17; 2022

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!