The link between cinnamon and diabetes for glucose control is arguably the most talked about of any natural diabetic treatment. However, is there any truth to the talk about cinnamon as a treatment for diabetes? Does it really work? What exactly is the connection and what do the studies say?
After all, seemingly every month there is a new study will come along touting the benefits of one substance or another in treating diabetes. In this case, it appears there is some substance to the talk.
Cinnamon has been around since ancient times and has been referenced in many ancient texts including the bible. Its traditional uses have varied ranging from a spice, medicinal purposes and as an insect repellent.
cinnamon and diabetes
Cinnamon is actually a small evergreen tree. It is prepared by grinding the inner bark, soaking it in a saltwater solution, and then quickly distilling the mixture (essentially removing the water). With time, the remaining powder will darken and become quite aromatic. Cinnamon originated from Southern Asia and India.
However, there are approximately 250 species of cinnamon, so you should understand more about the substance and how the right type may help you manage your diabetes.
The most common type of cinnamon is cinnamon zeylanicum, often referred to as “true” cinnamon. This is the type of cinnamon you usually buy in the grocery store.
A related species is cinnamon aromaticum, commonly referred to as “cassia.” This type of cinamon can also be sold in grocery stores. The difference may or may not be important. Some studies make a distinction between the type of cinnamon, while many others do not make any distinction.
WHAT THE STUDIES SAY
There are a lot of different studies looking at cinnamon and diabetes control. Here are a few highlights.
In a 2003 study, the effect of cassia on blood glucose and cholesterol was conducted. The hope was not only to control glucose levels, but also lower cholesterol levels to reduce the overall risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The cinnamon and diabetes study participants were divided into three groups. The amount of cinnamon given was either 1 gram, 3 grams or 6 grams a day.
After only 40 days, cassia was found to lower blood glucose levels (up to 29%), triglycerides (up to 30%), LDL cholesterol (up to 27%) and overall cholesterol (by up to 26%). Regarding the blood sugar, the study found that cassia increased the cells receptivity to insulin, thus reducing insulin resistance.
All three cinnamon and diabetes study groups showed positive results. Thus, as little as 1 gram of cinnamon could be helpful in your diet.
In a 2006 study, scientists concluded that a compound in cinnamon zeylanicum (cinnamtannin B1) lowered insulin resistance, thus lowering blood glucose levels. This study was not conducted on humans, while the 2003 study was.
A 2007 study in India found that cinnamaldehyde, a chemical compound in cinnamon, reduced blood glucose levels in diabetic laboratory rats up to 63 percent depending upon the dosage given. It also had the effect of lowering cholesterol levels.
Another 2007 human study looked at the effect of cinnamon on glucose levels at various times following a meal. The study participants who took 6 grams of cinnamon with a meal had a significantly lower blood glucose level after the meal than those who did not take the cinnamon. The type of cinnamon used was not specified.
Even more recently, a 2012 study from China took 66 type 2 diabetics and divided them into three groups: placebo (no cinnamon given), low dose (120 mg) and high dose (360 mg). The low dose group on average saw a drop of 18.2 mg/l in their blood glucose levels after 3 months. The high dose saw an average drop of 29.2 mg/l. The placebo group did not change. Obviously, this is a significant result.
Bottom line is that there appears to be a real cinnamon and diabetes treatment connection. Yes, there are studies out there that suggest there is no significant connection or take aim at the methodology used in some of the successful studies. No, cinnamon probably doesn’t work for everybody. Nonetheless, supplementing with cinnamon does not appear to have any adverse effect and it might just help you control your diabetes. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.
Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes, Diabetes Care 26:3215-3218, 2003.Cinnamaldehyde – a potential antidiabetic agent, 2007 14(1):15-22.Cinnamon extract improves fasting blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin level in Chinese patients with type 2 diabetes, Nutr Res. 2012 Jun;32(6):408-12.Effect of cinnamon on postprandial blood glucose, gastric emptying, and satiety in healthy subjects, Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1552-6