You can stir it into your tea and sprinkle it on your oatmeal for a tasty spice kick. But can cinnamon also help control blood glucose levels for someone with diabetes?
There are two main varieties of cinnamon which come from different plants. Ceylon cinnamon, commonly referred to as true cinnamon, and Cassia cinnamon, which is typically what you see in supplements and spice jars.
The Science Behind Cinnamon
It is said to possess effects similar to insulin. In the body, insulin regulates the amount of glucose in the blood.
But What Does the Evidence Say?
Whether cinnamon can lower blood glucose has been a topic of debate. Clinical trials have shown mixed results in people with either diabetes or pre-diabetes.
In 2012, a systematic review and meta-analysis of 6 clinical trials which considered a total of 435 subjects was published. It revealed that while cinnamon in doses ranging from 1-6g per day did show a small benefit in improving glycemic control, the magnitude of the effect was very small.
Further in 2013, an updated review of 10 clinical trials with sufficient research quality, and which involved 543 people, found that cinnamon doses of between 120mg to 6g per day were associated with a decrease in fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, LDL (“bad” cholesterol), and triglyceride levels (a type of fat found in our blood), but not HbA1c. Although the mentioned clinical outcomes were statistically significant, they were small in magnitude.
The studies mentioned are not an exhaustive listing but if cinnamon is indeed effective, it is as yet difficult to translate the results into patient recommendations until further research determines the right type to use, the best formulation (capsule, extract, or powder?), the ideal dose to take, and the duration one should take cinnamon.
The Bottom Line
It’s not yet clear if cinnamon is good for blood glucose control. It may have a clinical role to play in managing diabetes but research findings though promising have been somewhat controversial.
If you have diabetes, remember that treatment is a lifelong commitment of healthy eating, regular exercise, regular blood glucose monitoring, and sometimes, diabetes medications or insulin therapy; cinnamon use cannot replace healthy lifestyle changes and prescription medications just yet.