Diabetes Self-Management Blog

In the past, we’ve written about the possible health benefits of cinnamon for people with diabetes, and comments from our readers have indicated that many find this spice to be a useful addition to their diabetes management regimen. Now a new meta-analysis (a review of data from several clinical trials) has found further evidence supporting the benefits of cinnamon for people with diabetes.

Various studies have investigated the benefits of cinnamon for those who have diabetes, but these trials have generally been small and have shown conflicting results. Some research, however, has indicated that the spice increases insulin sensitivity and promotes insulin release.

To evaluate the use of cinnamon on blood glucose and blood fat levels, researchers looked at 10 randomized, controlled trials that included a total of 543 participants. Eight of the trials, with a total of 499 participants, reported HbA1c levels (a measure of glucose control over the previous 2–3 months). Nine of the studies, with a total of 464 participants, included information on fasting glucose levels. At least eight of the studies included data on levels of total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and triglycerides (a type of blood fat).

Participants in the research were randomized to receive either placebo (inactive treatment) or cinnamon extract or raw cinnamon powder in doses ranging from 120 milligrams a day to 6 grams a day. All of the studies required that the cinnamon be taken with food. The participants were followed for periods of 4 to 18 weeks.

The meta-analysis showed that cinnamon reduced fasting blood glucose levels by an average of 24.59 mg/dl, a greater reduction than that seen with the use of certain oral diabetes medicines. Supplementation with the spice did not have significant effects on HbA1c levels, but according to researcher Olivia J. Phung, “The studies…were small and had relatively short follow-up, from 4 to 18 weeks, which could be the reason cinnamon had no effect on hemoglobin A1C.”

Those using cinnamon also had a statistically significant reduction in lipid levels compared to people not using cinnamon, experiencing an average reduction of 15.60 mg/dl in total cholesterol, 9.42 mg/dl in LDL cholesterol, and 29.59 mg/dl in triglycerides, as well as an average increase of 1.66 mg/dl in HDL cholesterol.

In an e-mail to Medscape Medical News, Nicole White, PharmD, who was not involved in the research, suggested that “Larger, long-term studies would definitely be beneficial…Until that time, cassia cinnamon in daily doses of 1 to 6 g[rams] appears to be a reasonable option for glucose lowering in conjunction with (and not precluding) the use of evidence-based therapies when clinically appropriate.”

“Cinnamon has promise in potentially being helpful when added to diabetes medication, but patients should talk to their doctor or pharmacist to see if it will go with their treatment regimen,” noted Phung in an interview with MedPage Today.

The long-term safety of cinnamon use remains to be determined and studies in animals have found that high-dose, long-term use of the spice is associated with liver damage due to the high coumarin content.

For more information, read the article “Spice Has Short Term Benefits in Diabetes” or see the study in the Annals of Family Medicine. To learn more about cinnamon and diabetes control, click here. And for recipes featuring cinnamon, click here.

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Comments
  1. I have tried cinnamon in capsle form for over two months and it had no effect in my sugar levels as all.

    Posted by Russ Hadick |
  2. Been taking cin tablets for 6 months. No diabetic meds and last aic was 6.3 :)

    Posted by wendy |
  3. I tried it but have Crohn’s also and it aggravated my stomach so couldn’t take it long enough to say whether it helps or not.

    Posted by Janet |
  4. I have always loved cinnamon in almost everything I bake. I use it in my coffee and oatmeal or cream of wheat. It put it in everything and on top of everything I can. I had a blood workup in the ER when my BP was 215/115. I went to see my cardiologist and he said my sugar level was elevated, my lipids were high, I had Diabetes Mellitus, and my overall cholesterol was too high. I really started exercising, watching what I ate and really started with my oatmeal and cream of wheat with cinnamon in and top of everything. I took blood tests 1 week before I saw him and he said my sugar level was normal, my cholesterol was way down and my heart sounded great! I don’t have to worry about diabetes anymore! I don’t see him for another 6 months. I don’t know if this is scientific but I’m a believer in cinnamon and of course exercise and everything in moderation.

    Posted by Robin E Pokorny |
  5. Been using cinnamon faithfully every day for past 6 months have found no help with blood sugar still over 100 use at least a teaspoon or more What is correct dose do I need more ?? Thank you

    Posted by JJ |
  6. I take cinnamon pills every day. I have seen a good drop in my A1C reading

    Posted by Jean Robbins |
  7. Cinnamon is not helping me. I’ve been taking it for years, and my blood glucose has been rising. I don’t smoke, exercise regularly, eat right, and maintain a healthy weight.

    Posted by Eric |
  8. I have been taking cinnamon capsules twice a day (1000mg) and have seen a noticeable decrease in blood readings and a resultant lowering of my A1C.

    I have been doing this since I first heard about cinnamon from the study in Australia. I know it was later confirmed by the ADA.

    Of course, now there’s some discussion about cassia cinnamon versus Ceylon cinnamon, with the former being effective but possibly toxic to the liver and the latter being non-toxic, but possibly ineffective. The cassia is the common one in most store-bought commercial cinnamon.

    Seems like controlling diet, losing weight, reducing stress and regular exercise remains the best course of action.

    Posted by Charlie Levenson |
  9. Over 18 months there should have been some evidence that A1c had dropped if fasting sugars had dropped. A1c measures average over 2-3 months.

    However, cinnamon isn’t going to hurt. If someone wants to ingest lots of cinnamon on their food, hey, knock yourself out. I cannot share this info with anyone until there is solid scientific evidence support a drop in A1c.

    Posted by Joan G |
  10. I used cinnamon for a couple of years and saw no real effect on A1C or daily blood sugar levels. I stopped a few months ago and still no effect. I like the taste of cinnamon and put it on foods when appropriate, but I do so for taste reasons. I didn’t see any health benefits.

    Posted by Doug from PA |
  11. Approximately two years ago my blood sugars were out of control somewhere around 200 plus. I had seen on the Dr. Oz show the benefits of cinnamon for glucose control. I had begun to take a teaspoon of cinnamon followed with water for two years and have great sugar control (e.g. around 106 daily) and my hemoglobin A1C is usually around 5.3.

    I went to our local outdoor market and the gentleman that sold spices said he recommended to individuals to try the Saigon cinnamon. He said diabetics had came back to him with wonderful reports.

    I switched to Saigon cinnamon and once again my blood sugars are awesome!

    Posted by Cheryl B |
  12. Early this summer someone encouraged me to take cinnamon and honey in a cup of hot water before breakfast. After a couple weeks I had to drop my insulin two units and then a couple weeks later another two units (four total) to avoid very low blood sugars (50s and 60s). The beverage was the only significant change that I could see in my life. I don’t know if it is just coincidence.

    Posted by Carl Westerlund |
  13. I have been using cinnamon for 7 years and feel
    for me, it is the greatest thing ever.
    After having been laughed at by doctors over the
    7 years, I stopped for a few months to see if there was any effect on my sugar and there was. My A1C is around 6.5 when I take it and 7.8 when I don’t use it.
    I guess the drug companies don’t want to hear that a $10 item works as good as their $300
    insulin.
    I use both and it works for me

    Posted by stan siebenberg |
  14. I’ve used the Costco cinnamon product in the past with no glucose lowering/stabilizing results. Took as directed for a month and only got indigestion.

    Posted by Dave |
  15. Have been taking cinnamon twice a day and have not seen any difference in my results but still take it.

    Posted by Ferne |
  16. It would be better if told the way Cinnamon should be taken. Can it be taken as such or can be taken with cooked Rice or what flour? From today I shall try to include in my cooked rice intake and see how much effect it has in control of fasting sugar level. Thanks for the information

    Posted by G V Rao |
  17. Well great! I’ve been taking like 3000mg a day for a couple of years just to now find out that it might be toxic?! How much is a safe amount to take? Also I had no idea that there were different kinds of cinnamon. Where do you get the different varieties
    of cinnamon?

    Posted by Pat B. |
  18. I have take a cinnamon pill four about 5 years .I take no med for diabetics in about 4 years my AIC stays around 5.9 or 6.1. I use cinnamon in a lot of food I fix. I also in an exrercise

    Posted by Geneva Moore Sept. 25. 2013

    Posted by Geneva |
  19. I have used cinnamon for at least 5 years after reading about it in a book about Biblical times and decided to try it. I have good results. No increase in diabetic drugs and my tests have remained in good range. My doctor is even considering reducing my Januvia from 100 mgs. to 50mgs. I am glad to see some studies coming out. She had not heard of taking cinnamon but certainly did not object. Maybe others can get good results.

    Posted by Fran |
  20. I have taken Cinnamon tablets and found NO results in my lowering my glucose level. The simple fact is that if you are insulin resistant, save your money. It may work on those people who are not insulin resistant but there is no mention of it in the article.
    Insulin resistant people (and you know who you are) must constantly try new avenues to “wake up” the receptors in your body to accept insulin more readily. Cinnamon is only one. Tere are many others.

    Posted by Mr. Gregg |
  21. Has any testing involving brittle diabetics and cinnamon been conducted? If so, what results.

    Posted by Ms. Robertson |
  22. I love cinnamon also. I use “Vietnamese” cinnamon which is stronger and more flavorful and has a tiny “bite” to it. I put about 3/4 tsp on top of my fat free yogurt daily. In oatmeal if I am having it. Those who commented that they see no lower blood sugar or A1C, this all precludes that you are also sticking to your diabetes eating program faithfully and taking your diabetes med. We can’t use cinnamon and still be over eating or eating things we shouldn’t be eating. Exercise is essential.

    Posted by Donmarie Desrosiers |
  23. Back in 2001, my sugar was out of control..Type 2 Diabetic..Did not know just how bad it was until I lost the great toe on my left foot… A1c over 8..now, since then I have managet to keep my A1c under 6 due to taking metforman… works for me…I still noticed, at times, even with the GOOD control I had, that my sugar would be irratic once or twice a month… I had headr about the possible benefits of cinnimon…As of 2 years ago I have been on a suppliment of cinnimon 500mg, twice daily, 1 pill at morning meal and 1 pill at evening meal…..WORKS FOR ME !!! Cinnimon and metforman works !!! Sorry for the long note…

    Posted by Michael Ross |
  24. I read about 12 years ago how the Indian people have used cinnimon in many aspects of health and diabetes is one of them! I have used it ever since and not sure it really works on the blood glucose levels or A1c - however it does keep my body sensitive to the insulin I take! I have been a diabetic for 47 years and have seen many of my diabetic friends increasing their dosages the older they got!! I personally have not and have taken close to the same dosage for about 20 something years or more!! CINNIMON WORKS in many different ways!!

    Posted by John B |
  25. For those who said it can’t hurt. There is side effects to taking to much cinnamon. As for me it brings my sugar levels done but it’s temporary using like short term insulin. It with exercise and diet can be another tool just will not do it by itself. You can use vinegar the same way. Same with Sunchokes. There are lots of them none have reversed my type 2.

    Posted by Terrance |

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