Cinnamon—Not So Useful?

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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  • Kathy

    I have been taking two cinnamon capsules a day( am and pm) with my regular meds…I am type 2 …overall my glucose levels have been going down especially in the morning…I’m usually between 130-160 first thing in the morning…in the last four weeks I’m getting between 100-125…I also take about 1 1/2 oz. of mangosteen….I really haven’t changed anything else…I started this about 6 weeks ago…so far my numbers have improved…

  • deborah prettyman

    I use cinnamon on my morning oatmeal…a heafty dose. I can’t categorically state it has done anything to sugar levels, but since I like it I’ll continue using it. I am type 2 and have been gradually weaning off actos after stopping avandia. I’m now on byetta only and numbers are generall between 100-130 in the morning depending on what I eat the night before…Wendy’s burger, french fries and a frosty DON’T lead to a below 120 reading :>)

  • bvgardner

    I take cinnamon tablets in the morning and evening. I started doing this shortly after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. When I was just taking glucotrol tablets, my sugars stayed around 130-150. Once I started taking the cinnamon tablets, my sugars dropped to 97-114. Study or not, it works for me.

  • hopelessmary

    So, U R telling me Cinnamon is not good for me? In fact, it might raise my glucose alittle since it’s really spicy sugar. Then maybe I shouldn’t be using it. I grew up with the GREEN bottle little man containing cinnamon; ate it alot on buttered toast. It really isn’t doing me any good then? Thanks for testing it for us diabetics.

  • Pat

    It is important that you use real Cinnmaon and not cassia. Please click the below link to learn how to identify real cinamon

  • cbarton

    For three years I have been using what I thought was cinnamon purchased in bulk from the health food store. It was really cassia. Perhaps that is what those who were testing results in the study were using as well. I just found out the difference and am now going to see what effect using real cinnamon (which is much more expensive) will have. I learned the difference by chance on guess where? Martha Stewart’s show! I will let you know in a month’s time if my numbers are different.

  • Sam Mech

    Pat and others – respectfully, are you speculating or do you have citations to back up your thinking? Your URL did not talk about effects of Ceylon vs. Cassia specifically on DIABETES. Just how to identify the two.

    In fact, the following comparitive study from Germany makes me think that the cassia form is the more potent one for diabetes use.

    Well trained ND’s say it is an adjunct – a help – not a substitute for your diabetes medications. If your pancreas lacks islet cells then you cannot expect cinnamon to replace insulin. But it might help the remaining insulin work better.

  • Starchief

    I just accidentally discovered the research about cinnamon. Since taking it (a sprinkle on cereal, half a teaspoon with my coffee or barley), my sugar has improved by an absolutely incredible amount. Before lunch, my sugars would be around 9-10 mmol/l (maybe even over – and that’s with no mid-morn snack!), now they’re 4-5. As you can tell, I had been pretty worried I’d have to up my medication (bringing the dreaded day of the injection closer). Now I must be online to lower my pills. I’ve been taking it less than a week.

    Wonderful. Really absolutely wonderful.

  • grannyb

    Ny blood sugar was averaging between 190 and 210 mornings and nights. I started taking one 1000mg cinnamon tab three times a day about a month ago. Minimal changes to diet – just started eating smaller meals divided into six small meals a day. My blood sugars are currently at about 140 evenings and 120 mornings. I don’t know if the change is due to cinnamon or change in eating pattern or both – but it is working for me and I feel so much better – I intend to continue this regimen! Also have lost about 6 lbs by changing to six small meals rather than 3 regulars.

  • Matt

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why it did not help with Type I diabetes.

    The studies suggest that this is a type 2 treatment and especially good for those with insulin resistance to keep them from moving into full blown Type 2 diabetes.

    Type 1 diabetes is a very different disease from type 2.

  • Rebecca

    I was diagnosed at 16 with type 2 diabetes (my doctor said my A1c was at 12) and ill be turning 18 here in Nov. My levels have been all over the board ill wake up and it anywhere between 125-160. I was takeing metformon and it helped for a couple months but then my levels went up again and it was making me sick so i stopped taking it. Here in Oct. if i dont have my levels down my doctor wants to put me on insulin. Does Cinnamon really help? and are there any other natural spices or herbs that can help me?

  • lover

    so are you saying cinnamon supplements dont help those with type one?? :/

  • Theresa

    Wow, 16 and type 2?? I always thought that it would be diagnosed as a type 1. I have been a type 1 for 25 yrs. and developed my disease a few yrs later than yours. I was pregnant and, it never went away. there are soo many conflicting reports about using cinnamon that i have No clue to try it 🙁 It would be nice to get rid of this insulin pump but, that will never happen 🙁

  • jim snell

    As type 2; i have tried cinamin without any real improvement.

    I use metformin, starlix, humolog and lantos.
    my a1c tested recentlty was 6.9. This combined with exercise, controlled diet and controlled quantities of food appear to do the trick.

  • afreen

    dose cinamon powder taking a pinch with lukrwarm water gives any problem to a paitent who is on insulin does it gives a bloating sensation.

  • albert

    Gymnema Sylvestre
    Bitter Melon
    Nopal Cactus
    American Ginseng
    chromium polynicatinate

    I read about this combination of herbs and minerals in a book recently and the author claims this to be a natural cure for diabetes. I have read that these herbs individually have a long history of use in the treatment of diabetes.

    has anyone heard about this combination before?

  • Mary Witman

    All the studies in the world don’t prove a thing when you have tried the experiment yourself & got terrific results. My sister was told she was borderline diabetic & the doctor wanted her to change her diet & start exercising. I told her about the cinnamon tablets & she started taking them twice a day. 30 days later her blood sugar re-test was 100% normal….sugar level no longer elevated. My mother-in-law had the exact same experince. I have type 2 diabetes….I am on insulin…. I toy with using the cinnamon off & on but am having so many low blood sugar crashes when I do, that I just can’t use it. I talked to my doctor about it to see if he could help me figure out how to adjust my insulin so I could really work with the cinnamon but he refused. None of us changed our diet or exercise but got a huge difference in our blood sugar levels. I always question studies that have results that are totally opposite of real life experience.

  • MargA

    I am very keen to try cinnamon and was wondering what is the best brand and what strength to take. I live in Australia.

  • Lestat

    Will Cinnamon help me any? I have not been able to get medical the last few years because no one will cover me, pre-existing disease is what I am told. A while ago when I had medical from a company I worked for, I became a diabetic, 6 yearts ago. My doctor during then was not sure if I was a type 1 or 2, she could not figure it out. At that time she started me on insulin for 6 months then she weened me off it it, taking glucose pills. During then and today I am thin 6 ft tall 165 pounds. I have been surviving with out insulin but again very thin. Right now my sugar levels are a whopping 300-400 on average. When I found this out lately,I have been jogging, eating low carb and protien meals with less sugar as possible. I dont know if cinnamon will help any, I am not sure if I am 1 or 2. Any thoughts? Any recommendations in any way is appreciated.

  • Lestat

    oh one more thing. I have not been using insulin or glucose pills for about 4 years now

  • jim snell

    Cinnamon – total waste of time.

    Take metformin – way more powerfull. Take as separate doses around clock; take 2 near midnight
    and rest 1 hour before before each meal.

    one large single dose – waste of time and drugs. Effect depends on drug up to strength in blood to shut down liver in make sugar mode and put in faste mode. Don’t drink and watch out for levaquin antibiotics that override liver.

    I sm 280 lb person and 500 mg dose of regular metformin does job.

    Shuts doiwn liver nonsnense.

    Does not need any more mouse tests.

    This mouse will put his body and results into court.

  • George

    Marga I use Dru Era Ceylon Cinnamon Supplements and they ship to Australia. The only issue that the order takes 5 days to arrive via Australia Post from Ceylon.

  • Pat

    I am type 2 and take Metformin and Onglyza, for 2 the beginning the medicine seem to be working, not so much now..and I cannot afford to run to the insurance, so today I am starting the Cinnamon tablets, 1000 mg..I plan to take one in the am and one in the pm..hope this works. Does anyone else take the Onglyza? Usually in the late afternoons I feel really tired, and almost drugged with dry mouth..was wondering if anyone else has experienced this?

  • Albert Day

    I wonder how many who are fearful of and dread the thought of injections just want to believe there is a magic bullet that will solve their diabetic problem. I tried cinnamon and many other rumored cures before starting insulin. I too dreaded injections until I began to do them and the worry was much worse than the actual injections once I began to do them. The anxiety would set my sugar off just thinking about using inulin. Now I use insulin and feel so much better than when I tried to rely on various cures including cinnamon. If you have diabetes people you don’t want to waste too much time experimenting as damage is occuring to your organs each and every day the sugar levels remain high. Life is short enough as it is. Cinnamon or no cinnamon go get the insulin you need. You won’t be sorry. It’s east to inject to the stomach fat without pain or discomfort in the least. I know the tendency to want to believe anything and to jump at anything you hear will help. But the truth is insulin is the safest thing to take and has the least side effects. Pills do not work for long if at all. And the side effects of oral meds is well known to be very negative (glipizide, metformin, etc). If you do take cinnamon make sure you are already getting insulin treatment. You’ll feel better. Less jumpy, edgy tired and going downhill each day. Insulin is the cure that work. Why fool around with your health? Is an amputated toe or leg worth it? I think not.

  • Albert Day

    And as a long time diabetic I can tell you that readings on any particular day may or may not be accurate and my be normal or near normal. To the guy who said his sister had 100% normal reading when she returned to the doctor I can only say so did I for years while the diabetes would not show up on my visits. Meanwhile I suffered the damage caused by the on-going disease. In order to know whether you have diabetes is with the A test which shows blood sugar over time (hemeglobin is sticky and sugar is to and two stick together over time to indicate the actual amount of blood sugar in your system). While you experiment with herbs and cinnamon you may be doing irreparable damage to your organs. Is it worth it to experiment? I know from personal experience it is not.

  • Albert Day

    Use of these type “cures” is great as long as you are being treated by a physician at the same time. No doctor is going to tell you not to do what you can on your own, but will also tell you that proper treatment that is proven is essential. Don’t fool with unknowns. You may end up loosing toes, legs or your life if your heart stops due to high blood sugar over time. High blood sugar causes nerves to die including those in your heart. In other words you could be having a heart attack with diabetes and not feel it and end up not being treated in time. Don’t do it!!! Get medical help. Insulin is the safest treatment and doesn’t hurt like many think it does. Injections are painless when done to fatty tissue like the back of your arm or stomach blubber. Don’t be a fool. Living in a wheelchair for years due to poor care is not worth it.

  • Grant

    I’m a Diabetic 2 patient for the last 6 years.
    Recently made some research on the Internet after being fed up from falling asleep and feeling low.

    I just hate to depend on Metformin all the time and definitely do not want to get into the stage of taking insulin.

    I found out that there are two natural product which lowers the Blood Sugar.
    1. Cinnamon
    2. Bitter cucumber

    I just started to experiment with Cinnamon since last night by taking a full teaspoon of Cinnamon powder in a standard European mug filled with sweet Yoghurt.
    Had my diet diner as usual and drank another cappuccino with Cinnamon.
    No extra 1/2 tablet (250Mg) before going to bed.

    This morning I measured my blood and it was lower then I expected. 2 mmol/L = 38mg/dl
    Not bad for a natural product! It’s better than all that poison from the pharmacy.

    But am sure getting fed up of that taste and need to order strong capsules.
    Mangistan does not work! Try something else.

  • Scott

    I am age 47. When I as 39, I was diagnosed as type 2. They gave me metaformin. My blood sugars were all over, usually around 200. I’m exactly 6′ tall and 190#…and have been for over a decade. I’m not a gym rat, but I do have a 5 acre farm and work outdoors all the time. About a year after I was diagnosed as type 2, I became a type 1. My pancreas just quit working. I have been insulin dependant since 2005. Ever since the type 1 diagnosis, I have taken Humalog and Lantus every day. I recently heard about cinnamon and thought “what the heck”…I’ll give it a shot. I have been taking 1 teaspoon per day for the last month and my blood sugar levels have dropped from an average of 150 down to 100. I’m not excercising any more than normal and I haven’t made any diet changes since I began trying cinnamon. I have had to dial-back on both insulins that I am taking. I am using the Penzy Spices China cinnamon which I purchase at one of the many local Penzy Spice locations here in Milwaukee. I don’t care what any survey or published report says. This cinnamon works and the results cannot be argued. If you are unsure about this, all you have to do is try it. Cinnamon is super cheap and testing this yourself can only improve your current condition.

  • I suppose, some traditional medicines eliminate disease with roots. But the problem is how to select the right source or medicine. Regarding cinnamon, I am considering only for Ceylon cinnamon due to low coumarin content. Others contain high comarin content and not good for longer use.
    Ceylon cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka, a small island located in south Asia which has more than 2500 years of history. This county has proven Ayurvedic and Hela (traditional medicine treatments) medicine treatments comes from generation to generation. Sri Lankan use Ceylon cinnamon as a spice for preparation of curries. The product used from thousand of years. It is the fourth most valuable spice in the world.