There are many uses for cinnamon. Cinnamon can help to add a sweet flavor to foods without adding sugar, but is cinnamon one of the next “superfoods” that could cure diabetes? Before you rush out to stock up on cinnamon or begin taking cinnamon supplements, let’s look at the facts.
Cinnamon & Diabetes
Cinnamon is a spice that has been around for many years and comes from the bark of cinnamon trees. Cinnamon has a history of being used in herbal remedies for treating diseases such as bronchitis, adding flavor to foods, and even more recently to being used as a dietary supplement.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that is characterized by elevated blood sugars. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for diabetes. While there are sources that suggest otherwise, the evidence does not support that diabetes can be cured. However, diabetes can be effectively managed to reduce a person’s risk for complications and early death.
While cinnamon will not cure your diabetes, there could be some evidence to support that some of the health benefits of cinnamon could help to moderately lower your blood sugar. Currently, there is not strong enough evidence to solely recommend cinnamon to people with diabetes for medicinal purposes.
What does the Science Say?
Research has shown mixed results about the health effects of cinnamon. Some studies have shown lower fasting blood sugar levels, lower total cholesterol levels, and lower LDL cholesterol levels. However, some studies have shown little to no health benefits from using cinnamon.
Some of the variability in the research could be related to some of the common problems found with other herbal remedies and supplements. There are different sources of cinnamon and each type could come from different countries with variable growing climates. In addition, the processes for extracting cinnamon from the bark could also vary. Cinnamon does not have an international standard, and the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the content of the active ingredients. All of these factors could impact the content of the active compound naturally found in cinnamon and impact any positive health effects of cinnamon, specifically lowering blood sugar levels. While there is a considerable amount of research on the blood sugar-lowering effects of cinnamon, most results are mixed at best, and few studies are large enough to be considered representative.
Diabetes & blood sugar lowering medications: There is a chance that cinnamon, among other herbal remedies and supplements, could interact with other blood sugar-lowering medications, such as metformin. However, since these supplements are not regulated as strictly as other pharmaceuticals, there is not a guarantee for a consistent effect on blood sugar.
So, Should I Eat More Cinnamon?
For most people, occasional cinnamon supplements can be safe and may complement a person’s regular diabetes treatment. However, if taken in large amounts, there is a potential for negative health effects. Some people may even have allergic reactions to cinnamon or experience a worsening of existing health conditions, such as liver disease. Recent evidence suggests that cinnamon may contain a significant amount of coumarin. Coumarin is a naturally occurring compound that may cause liver toxicity and could possibly be carcinogenic.
Before you switch to supplements, choosing whole food forms, such as adding a moderate amount of cinnamon to your food. As a rule, it is best to talk with your doctor before adding any additional supplements to your health regimen. This is important to ensure that the supplement will not cause any negative effects with any current medications and/or existing health conditions.
- “Cinnamon.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 24 Sept. 2017, nccih.nih.gov/health/cinnamon.
- “Diabetes Treatment: Can Cinnamon Lower Blood Sugar?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 23 Jan. 2016, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/diabetes/faq-20058472.
- “Does Cinnamon Conflict with Metformin?” Diabetes Forecast, May 2011.
- Chronic Conditions Team. “Can Taking Cinnamon Supplements Lower Your Blood Sugar?” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, 23 Dec. 2020, health.clevelandclinic.org/can-taking-cinnamon-lower-your-blood-sugar/
- ConsumerLab.com. “Cinnamon Supplement and Spice Reviews & Information.” ConsumerLab.com, ConsumerLab.com, 11 Dec. 2020, www.consumerlab.com/reviews/cinnamon-supplements-review/cinnamon/?j=1863332&sfmc_sub=91670989&l=529_HTML&u=22663086&mid=7276525&jb=325&utm_medium=email&utm_source=exacttarget&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_term=&utm_content=cinnamon_non_member_de_send
Originally published 07/21