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Cinnamon—Not So Useful?

Tara Dairman

October 5, 2007

Can cinnamon help improve blood glucose control in people with diabetes? Some preliminary studies (including the one discussed last year in Amy Campbell’s blog entry "Can Cinnamon Help You Control Your Diabetes?") seemed to imply that it could. But now, newer research is showing less promise for the spice’s use in people with either Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes.

One new study, published in the journal Diabetes Care in September, was conducted by researchers from the University of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. The researchers randomly split 43 adults with Type 2 diabetes into two groups. One group was assigned to take two capsules a day containing total of 1 gram of cinnamon; the other group received identical placebo capsules containing wheat flour. After three months, there were no differences between the two groups in terms of blood glucose, insulin, or cholesterol levels.

Why did the results of this study conflict with those of the earlier study, which linked taking cinnamon to improved blood glucose and blood lipid levels? For one thing, the earlier study was conducted in Pakistan, where the study group probably had a different diet and had higher blood glucose levels to begin with than the American participants in the Oklahoma study. And perhaps most important, most of the participants in the American study were already taking various diabetes drugs at the start of the cinnamon study, while those in the Pakistani study took no diabetes drugs.

The researchers involved in the newer study concluded that more research is needed to see how factors like diet and medicine use affect whether and how much cinnamon may benefit people with Type 2 diabetes. Until then, though, they would not recommend cinnamon to Americans for Type 2 diabetes treatment.

Another study, published this year in the April issue of Diabetes Care, looked at cinnamon’s effect on people with Type 1 diabetes. Researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire recruited 72 adolescents with Type 1 diabetes, randomly assigning half to take 1 gram of cinnamon per day and half to take a matching placebo. After 90 days, the researchers found no differences between the two groups in terms of HbA1c level, daily insulin use, or episodes of hypoglycemia.

So, while it tastes good and probably won’t hurt you in moderate doses, don’t expect cinnamon to work miracles on your blood glucose levels.



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