A Dash of Cinnamon for Diabetes

Cinnamon consumption by type 2 diabetes patients shown to improve measures of diabetes health

(RxWiki News) Proper nutrition is essential for effectively managing your diabetes, and by adding a certain spice to your diet, you may be helping to do just that.

A recent review found that consumption of cinnamon was linked to better outcomes on three tests for diabetes (fasting blood sugar, total cholesterol and fat).

While cinnamon was found to have a positive effect, the authors noted that it's difficult to recommend a specific amount of cinnamon that should be consumed to enjoy these benefits.

"Eat a healthy diet to help manage your diabetes."

This research was led by Robert Allen, PharmD, from the College of Pharmacy at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California. The research team conducted a review of studies to examine cinnamon's effect on different tests for diabetes.

The researchers reviewed three databases (Medline, Embase and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) to identify randomized controlled trials to include in their review.

In order to be included in the review, the trials had to involve patients with type 2 diabetes, evaluate the intake of cinnamon in any dose or form and report on one of the following measures: hemoglobin A1c (tests blood sugar levels over time), fasting plasma glucose (tests blood sugar levels after a person has not eaten for at least eight hours), total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C; the "bad" cholesterol), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C; the "good" cholesterol) or triglycerides (fats).

Patients with type 2 diabetes have high hemoglobin A1C levels, high fasting plasma glucose levels, high levels of fat and the bad cholesterol (LDL-C) and low levels of the good cholesterol (HDL-C).

The final sample for this review included 10 randomized controlled trials with a total of 543 patients.

The researchers found that cinnamon doses between 120 milligrams per day to 6 grams per day for between 4 and 18 weeks showed statistically significant reductions in fasting plasma glucose, total cholesterol levels, and triglycerides. The researchers did not find a significant relationship between cinnamon and hemoglobin A1C levels.

The study authors concluded that while their findings suggest that cinnamon has a positive effect on diabetes management, there were a lot of differences between the studies in regards to cinnamon consumption, which made it difficult to recommend a specific dose and length of time to consume cinnamon.

Deborah Gordon, MD, a nutrition and preventive medicine expert who was not associated with this study told dailyRx News, "Allen et al report some impressive effects attributable to cinnamon, and in line with expectations from previous studies. The fact that no effect was seen on hemoglobin A1C levels was to be expected because of the short duration (4-18 weeks) of the trials."

Dr. Gordon also noted, "Cinnamon proves itself as a wonderful temporary measure to be prescribed after dietary changes (lower carbs, please, and add a bit more healthy saturated fat) and before pharmaceutical intervention. The doses varied widely: 120 mg/day could be incorporated into a dietary plan; 6 grams per day would require taking the cinnamon in gel caps to be taken as a supplement. I would encourage hyperglycemic patients to start with dietary changes and generous cinnamon, adding the supplement form up to 6 grams a day as needed."

This study was published in the September/October issue in the Annals of Family Medicine.

The study authors reported no competing interests.

Review Date: 
September 12, 2013