Diabetes Supplements

Does Cinnamon Really Lower Blood Sugar Levels?

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum and cinnamon cassia) is one of the commonly used spices in the world.

There are a number of bioactive compounds in cinnamon such as cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamate and cinnamic acid (1).

These compounds have been reported to have a number of health benefits, and it has long been used in traditional medicine to treat chronic diseases

The effects of cinnamon on blood sugar levels

Reduces HbA1c & fasting blood sugar

A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of cinnamon supplementation on people diagnosed with metabolic syndrome was carried out for 16 weeks (2).

All the participants were encouraged to follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Half the participants were received 6 grams of cinnamon and the rest were given 6 grams of a placebo.

There was a reduction in HbA1c and fasting blood sugar in the cinnamon group compared to placebo by week 16. There was also a greater reduction in waist circumference and BMI compared to placebo. This may explain the greater reduction in blood sugar.

Lowers post-meal blood sugar

Another study looked at the effects of cinnamyl isobutyrate, which is one of the bioactive compounds in cinnamon, on blood sugar levels and calorie intake (3).

The supplementation group consumed a lower amount of calories during subsequent breakfast, which indicated a reduction in appetite. There was also a reduction in blood sugar after the meal.

Another study showed that 6 grams of cinnamon with rice pudding reduced the rise of blood sugar after carbohydrate intake compared to consuming rice pudding with a placebo.

There was a reduction in gastric emptying, which may explain the lower blood sugar level (4).

Additional health benefits

1) Reduces triglycerides

Cinnamon may also the risk of heart disease. A systematic review found strong evidence showing that cinnamon can lower blood triglyceride (fat) levels (5).

High blood triglycerides increase the risk of atherosclerosis which may lead to a heart event (6). Research suggests that cinnamon may reduce the absorption of fat.

2) Reduces blood pressure

A randomized control trial has taken place in the UK to examine the effects of 2 g of cinnamon on multiple markers of metabolic health in type II diabetes (7).

Not only was HbA1c reduced, but there were also reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

3) Protects against oxidative stress

Cinnamon is rich in antioxidant compounds (8). Antioxidants nullify free radicals, and this may protect against chronic disease. 1 g of cinnamon per day for 12 weeks has shown to reduce oxidative stress in type II diabetes (9).

4) May protect against Alzheimer’s disease

Cinnamon’s ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation may also help protect the brain from degeneration.

Test tube studies have shown that cinnamon can inhibit the accumulation of a called amyloid beta (10).

A high level of amyloid beta in the brain is thought to be the trigger of Alzheimer’s disease. However, human clinical trials are required to confirm this benefit.   

To conclude, research has consistently demonstrated that 1-6 grams of cinnamon are able to regulate blood sugar and improve metabolic health in type II diabetics.

Sources

  1. Rao PV, Gan SH. Cinnamon: a multifaceted medicinal plant. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014;2014
  2. Jain SG, Puri S, Misra A, Gulati S, Mani K. Effect of oral cinnamon intervention on metabolic profile and body composition of Asian Indians with metabolic syndrome: a randomized double-blind control trial. Lipids in health and disease. 2017 Dec;16(1):113.
  3. Hochkogler CM, Hoi JK, Lieder B, Müller N, Hans J, Widder S, Ley JP, Somoza V. Cinnamyl Isobutyrate Decreases Plasma Glucose Levels and Total Energy Intake from a Standardized Breakfast: A Randomized, Crossover Intervention. Molecular nutrition & food research. 2018 Aug 21:1701038.
  4. Hlebowicz J, Darwiche G, Björgell O, Almér LO. Effect of cinnamon on postprandial blood glucose, gastric emptying, and satiety in healthy subjects–. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2007 Jun 1;85(6):1552-6.
  5. Maierean SM, Serban MC, Sahebkar A, Ursoniu S, Serban A, Penson P, Banach M, Lipid and Blood Pressure Meta-analysis Collaboration. The effects of cinnamon supplementation on blood lipid concentrations: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of clinical lipidology. 2017 Nov 1;11(6):1393-406.
  6. Yuan G, Al-Shali KZ, Hegele RA. Hypertriglyceridemia: its etiology, effects and treatment. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2007 Apr 10;176(8):1113-20.
  7. Akilen R, Tsiami A, Devendra D, Robinson N. Glycated haemoglobin and blood pressure‐lowering effect of cinnamon in multi‐ethnic Type 2 diabetic patients in the UK: a randomized, placebo‐controlled, double‐blind clinical trial. Diabetic Medicine. 2010 Oct;27(10):1159-67.
  8. Shan B, Cai YZ, Sun M, Corke H. Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 2005 Oct 5;53(20):7749-59.
  9. Sahib AS. Anti-diabetic and antioxidant effect of cinnamon in poorly controlled type-2 diabetic Iraqi patients: A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of intercultural ethnopharmacology. 2016 Mar;5(2):108.
  10. Momtaz S, Hassani S, Khan F, Ziaee M, Abdollahi M. Cinnamon; a promising prospect towards Alzheimer’s disease. Pharmacological research. 2017 Dec 16.

About Our Author Kwame Otchere

Alternative Text
Kwame Otchere is a Registered Nutritionist (ANutr) with a Bachelors Degree (BSc) in Sport and Exercise Sciences from The University of Birmingham as well as holding a Masters (MSc) in Nutritional Sciences from The University of Nottingham.

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