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Human Health, Nutrition

Cinnamon may help regulate diabetes type 2 glucose (blood sugar) levels

Cinnamon may help regulate diabetes type 2

Cinnamon can be used by diabetics to regulate blood sugar levels

Cinnamon is quite well known by nutritionists, to hold strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties, both varieties of cinnamon are being continuously researched by food scientists as an alternative natural cure for diabetes. We have written this article to give you an insight into what has been researched so far.

Cinnamon improves glycemic control, and lowers blood sugar levels

Blood sugar levels regulation

Through the analyses of 8 studies on the effects of cinnamon on blood sugar, cinnamon has been suggested to lower blood sugar levels in diabetics. During group studies, when a test group was given either whole cinnamon or cinnamon extract, results depicted that there was a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar levels. Which leads to researchers suggesting that cinnamon could be useful for people with type two diabetes and pre-diabetes.1.

Another analysis of 11 similar studies, showed similar results. Each diabetic test groups’ data concluded that cinnamon supplements lowered blood sugar levels. Administration methods of the studies were; the test group was given cinnamon doses ranging from 120 mg to 6,000 mg per day, for 4-16 weeks (altering between studies). Of the studies analysed, 3 studies do not specify which type of cinnamon supplement was used, 7 used cassia cinnamon, and 1 used Ceylon cinnamon.

Hb1Ac levels of all the participants who were administered cinnamon, was positive. Hb1Ac is a measure of what a person’s blood sugar is, normally over a two to three month time frame. When glucose is in the blood, the glucose binds to hemoglobin, the hemoglobin is present in all red blood cells (RBCs). The glucose will stay bound to the red blood cells until they die, normally around 3 months. Thus, testing for glycated hemoglobin will good a good estimate of what a person’s glucose control is over a three month period. With all eleven studies having conclusive results of hb1Ac levels reducing these studies indicate that cinnamon has an immediate effect on reducing sugar levels, but they also suggest that cinnamon may also lead to better glycemic control in general.3.

It should also be added that out of the 11 studies, 4 of the studies achieved blood sugar reductions applicable to the American Diabetes Association treatment goals for diabetes.

Cinnamon mimics insulin and increases insulin sensitivity


When a person has type 2 diabetes, the body experiences increased blood sugar levels (glucose). The body becomes resistant to insulin, or the pancreas can not produce enough insulin, why this happens has not been determined, however, genetics and environmental factors seem to be contributing factors. Cinnamon has shown to be effective at mimicking insulin, and may also make the insulin present in the body become more efficient. The results of adding cinnamon to the body of type 2 diabetic suggest that the cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity, which helps the body’s cells respond more efficiently to insulin, which allows the efficient transport of blood sugar (glucose). which could see cinnamon being implemented in the future as a natural remedy for diabetics, and also pre-diabetics, who are showing signs of insulin resistance.4.5. This has been confirmed by a study which gave its test subjects 3 gm of cinnamon per day, over a fourteen day period. With results conclusive that insulin sensitivity, and glycemic control improved.6.

When analysing cinnamon, it is thought to be the methylhydroxychalcone polymer (MHCP), chromium, and polyphenols that are responsible for insulin sensitivity, and glycemic control improvements.7. Studies concentrating on MHCP have shown that the compound has the same biological activity as insulin. As with insulin, MHCP increases the absorption of blood sugar (glucose) by the cells, and also catalyzes the synthesis of glycogen.8.

Cinnamon may decrease glucose levels after meals

High carbohydrate foods

When a meal is consumed, glucose (blood sugar levels) levels noticeably rise in the bodys’ bloodstream, even more so if the meal is high in carbohydrates. High levels of glucose within the bloodstream, may increase the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, and if you already have a chronic disease it will pose even more of a risk to your health. This is because of the increased levels of inflammation and oxidative stress.

Studies have suggested that taking cinnamon after a meal high in carbohydrates, may slow down the digestion rate, and could help to control adverse spikes associated with glucose (blood sugar) levels.9.10. While other studies have suggested that cinnamon may inhibit enzymes associated with the digestive system, which are tasked with breaking down carbohydrates within the small intestine, thus lowering glucose (blood sugar) levels after consuming a meal.11.12.

Cinnamon may fight inflammation

Cinnamon may fight inflammation

Chronic inflammation is normally an associated trigger for prediabetes, and is likely to lead to other health complications if you already have diabetes. Cinnamon has been suggested to reduce levels of inflammation, due to the body utilising the cinnamons flavonoids. The inflammatory effect of cinnamon helps to reduce metabolic problems, and reduce downstream complications associated with diabetes.13.

Cinnamon also has antioxidant benefits, which are useful for diabetics. Oxidative stress, which can be explained as a type of cell damage caused by free radicals, is a catalyst for prediabetes diabetes leading to type 2 diabetes. It has also been found that diabetics tend to be more prone to oxidative stress.14.15. Thus, taking cinnamon to reduce oxidative stress will help manage, and safeguard you against this disease.16.

Stabilises associated diabetic complications

Diabetic complications

From analysing studies, we can see it has been suggested that cinnamon may, help regulate glucose (blood sugar) levels, minimise inflammation, and helps to prevent spikes. Thus, cinnamon may help reduce diabetic complications downstream.

Heart Disease


Diabetics are in a more high risk category of developing heart disease. Clinical nutritionists recommend patients take cinnamon as part of a diagnosed diet – tailored to preventing the onset of coronary heart disease. This is because cinnamon is abundant in antioxidant properties and reduces inflamation.17. The positive effects cinnamon has on blood pressure and cholesterol levels, may also reduce the risks of heart disease and atherosclerosis.

Lipid Disorders


An investigation carried out by Lee et al. on cinnamate (a compound of cinnamon) supplementation, in high cholesterol-fed participants, suggested cinnamate, a phenolic compound contained within cinnamon bark, may lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase promoting activity. Thus, meaning cinnamon may be a good alternative remedy for conditions such as; high cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and hyperlipidemia, which many diabetics tend to find themselves with.19.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure

Cinnamon is widely used to tackle high blood pressure, a condition in high prevalence globally. Studies have suggested cinnamon can reduce systolic blood pressure among people with type two diabetes, which can be described as the amount of pressure in your arteries during the contraction of your heart muscle. It was also suggested in the same studies analysed that cinnamon may reduce diastolic blood pressure among people with type two diabetes, which can be described as; the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at the resting phase between beats. The resting phase is the phase where the heart refills with blood, and receives oxygen.20. Studies have also suggested that cinnamaldehyde, another compound found in cinnamon, can decrease blood pressure via the dilation of blood vessels (vasodilation).21.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's disease

If diabetes is not regulated to a certain level it can lead to many organ downstream problems, including the brain. Studies, are linking Alzheimer’s disease to diabetes, and now Alzheimer’s disease is being referred to as type 3 diabetes. Type 3 diabetes is now being related to a form of mellitus, that is localized to the brain.22. Research has suggested that cinnamon changes the activity of beta-amyloid, and tau proteins, which are linked as a catalyst for Alzheimer’s disease.23.24.

Should you supplement with Cassia or Ceylon cinnamon?

Should you supplement with Cassia or Ceylon cinnamon

There are two types of cinnamon, Cassia, and Ceylon, these are both located in the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree. The Cassia cinnamon is quite common, thus is relatively affordable. Ceylon, classed as the true cinnamon, is quite difficult to find, thus is more expensive. Ceylon cinnamon bark, is light of colour, has the look of tightly rolled scrolls, and is quite brittle. Cassia cinnamon, is dark of colour, rolled typically once, and is quite hard, and thick.

It should be noted that, both varieties of cinnamon have been used in these studies, while some of the studies have disclosed what variety of cinnamon they have used, others have not. It should be advised, that both forms of cinnamon, may have positive effects relating to the studies in question. But the more common variety of cinnamon does contain high levels of coumarin, or otherwise known as 2H-chromen-2-one which is an aromatic organic chemical compound. Coumarin has been suggested to damage the liver, if used in high quantities.25. Whereas Ceylon cinnamon only has minimal traces of this compound, suggesting it is safer to use in high quantities.26.

Recommended amounts of cinnamon to supplement with

The European Food Safety has recommended that no more than 0.1 mg of coumarin should be supplemented per day.27.

If you are a diabetic, it is applicable for you to take advice from a Dr, relating to supplementing with cinnamon. As it could inhibit the current medication you have been prescribed. It may also lower your glucose (blood sugar) levels causing hypoglycemia. If you are also taking blood thinners, or are pregnant also seek Dr advice before supplementing with cinnamon, the same for children.

Useful resources


1, Davis, Paul A., and Wallace Yokoyama. “Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis.” Journal of medicinal food 14, no. 9 (2011): 884-889.

2, Medagama, Arjuna B. “The glycaemic outcomes of Cinnamon, a review of the experimental evidence and clinical trials.” Nutrition Journal 14, no. 1 (2015): 108.

3, Costello, Rebecca B., Johanna T. Dwyer, Leila Saldanha, Regan L. Bailey, Joyce Merkel, and Edwina Wambogo. “Do cinnamon supplements have a role in glycemic control in type 2 diabetes? A narrative review.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 116, no. 11 (2016): 1794-1802

4, Jarvill-Taylor, Karalee J., Richard A. Anderson, and Donald J. Graves. “A hydroxychalcone derived from cinnamon functions as a mimetic for insulin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 20, no.4 2001):327-336

5, Qin, B., Panickar, K. S., & Anderson, R. A. (2010). Cinnamon: potential role in the prevention of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Journal of diabetes science and technology, 4(3), 685-693.

6, Solomon, Thomas PJ, and Andrew K. Blannin. “Changes in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity following 2 weeks of daily cinnamon ingestion in healthy humans.” European journal of applied physiology 105, no. 6 (2009): 969.

7, Anderson, Richard A. “Chromium and polyphenols from cinnamon improve insulin sensitivity: plenary lecture.” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 67, no. 1 (2008): 48-53

8, Jarvill-Taylor, Karalee J., Richard A. Anderson, and Donald J. Graves. “A hydroxychalcone derived from cinnamon functions as a mimetic for insulin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 20, no. 4 (2001): 327-336.

9, Hlebowicz, Joanna, Gassan Darwiche, Ola Björgell, and Lars-Olof Almér. “Effect of cinnamon on postprandial blood glucose, gastric emptying, and satiety in healthy subjects–.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 85, no. 6 (2007): 1552-1556

10, Medagama, Arjuna B. “The glycaemic outcomes of Cinnamon, a review of the experimental evidence and clinical trials.” Nutrition Journal 14, no. 1 (2015): 108

11, Adisakwattana, Sirichai, Orathai Lerdsuwankij, Ubonwan Poputtachai, Aukkrapon Minipun, and Chaturong Suparpprom. “Inhibitory activity of cinnamon bark species and their combination effect with acarbose against intestinal α-glucosidase and pancreatic α-amylase.” Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 66, no. 2 (2011): 143-148.

12, Shihabudeen, H. Mohamed Sham, D. Hansi Priscilla, and Kavitha Thirumurugan. “Cinnamon extract inhibits α-glucosidase activity and dampens postprandial glucose excursion in diabetic rats.” Nutrition & metabolism 8, no. 1 (2011): 46.

13, Hong, Joung-Woo, Ga-Eun Yang, Yoon Bum Kim, Seok Hyun Eom, Jae-Hwan Lew, and Hee Kang. “Anti-inflammatory activity of cinnamon water extract in vivo and in vitro LPS-induced models.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 12, no. 1 (2012): 237

14, Monnier, Louis, Emilie Mas, Christine Ginet, Françoise Michel, Laetitia Villon, Jean-Paul Cristol, and Claude Colette. “Activation of oxidative stress by acute glucose fluctuations compared with sustained chronic hyperglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes.” Jama 295, no. 14 (2006): 1681-1687

15, Matough, Fatmah A., Siti B. Budin, Zariyantey A. Hamid, Nasar Alwahaibi, and Jamaludin Mohamed. “The role of oxidative stress and antioxidants in diabetic complications.” Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal 12, no. 1 (2012): 5.

16, Roussel, Anne-Marie, Isabelle Hininger, Rachida Benaraba, Tim N. Ziegenfuss, and Richard A. Anderson. “Antioxidant effects of a cinnamon extract in people with impaired fasting glucose that are overweight or obese.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 28, no. 1 (2009): 16-21.

17, O’Keefe, James H., Neil M. Gheewala, and Joan O. O’Keefe. “Dietary strategies for improving post-prandial glucose, lipids, inflammation, and cardiovascular health.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 51, no. 3 (2008): 249-255.

18, Allen, Robert W., Emmanuelle Schwartzman, William L. Baker, Craig I. Coleman, and Olivia J. Phung. “Cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis.” The Annals of Family Medicine 11, no. 5 (2013): 452-459.

19, Abeysekera, Walimuni Prabhashini Kaushalya Mendis, Sirimal Premakumara Galbada Arachchige, and Wanigasekera Daya Ratnasooriya. “Bark extracts of Ceylon cinnamon possess antilipidemic activities and bind bile acids in vitro.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2017 (2017).

20, Akilen, Raj, A. Tsiami, Devasenan Devendra, and Nicola Robinson. “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 27, no. 10 (2010): 1159-1167.

21, Rao, Pasupuleti Visweswara, and Siew Hua Gan. “Cinnamon: a multifaceted medicinal plant.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014 (2014).

22, de la Monte, Suzanne M., and Jack R. Wands. “Alzheimer’s disease is type 3 diabetes—evidence reviewed.” Journal of diabetes science and technology 2, no. 6 (2008): 1101-1113.

23, Peterson, Dylan W., Roshni C. George, Francesca Scaramozzino, Nichole E. LaPointe, Richard A. Anderson, Donald J. Graves, and John Lew. “Cinnamon extract inhibits tau aggregation associated with Alzheimer’s disease in vitro.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 17, no. 3 (2009): 585-597

24, Frydman-Marom, Anat, Aviad Levin, Dorit Farfara, Tali Benromano, Roni Scherzer-Attali, Sivan Peled, Robert Vassar et al. “Orally administrated cinnamon extract reduces β-amyloid oligomerization and corrects cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease animal models.” PloS one 6, no. 1 (2011): e16564.

25, Archer, Alan W. “Determination of cinnamaldehyde, coumarin and cinnamyl alcohol in cinnamon and cassia by high-performance liquid chromatography.” Journal of Chromatography A 447 (1988): 272-276.

26, Blahová, Jana, and Zdeňka Svobodová. “Assessment of coumarin levels in ground cinnamon available in the Czech retail market.” The Scientific World Journal 2012 (2012).

27, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). “Coumarin in flavourings and other food ingredients with flavouring properties‐Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food (AFC).” EFSA Journal 6, no. 10 (2008): 793.

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