Some type two diabetics use cinnamon to help lower their blood sugar levels. Is this effective – and most importantly, is it safe?
Some people like to add a little cinnamon to their breakfast cereal in the morning – to make it taste better. But cinnamon does more than add flavor to foods, it has some intriguing health benefits as well. One of the more recent medicinal uses of cinnamon is to lower blood sugars in people with type 2 diabetes. Is there scientific evidence behind cinnamon for blood sugar control – and is it safe?
Cinnamon for Blood Sugar Control
Cinnamon came to the forefront in 2003 after a study showed that cinnamon lowered blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetics. Based on the results of this study, some diabetics began supplementing their meals with cinnamon to lower their blood sugar levels. Is this a good idea?
An article published on Medscape.com looked more closely at the issue of cinnamon for blood sugar control, by studying the results of three clinical studies. After reviewing this research, they came to the conclusion that the studies were too small and short in duration to be completely convincing. Despite this, they concluded that cinnamon probably has a modest blood sugar lowering effect in people with diabetes. Because the number of people involved in these studies was small, they emphasize it may not be effective for all people with type 2 diabetes.
Medicinal Uses for Cinnamon: How Does It Lower Blood Sugar Levels?
Some component in cinnamon, which has yet to be identified, has insulin-like effects in the human body. Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that carries glucose into cells, where it can be used for energy – or stored for future use. The insulin-like effects of cinnamon helps to lower blood sugar levels naturally, by helping cells absorb it.
Is It Safe to Use Cinnamon for Blood Sugar Control?
There are some potential problems with using cinnamon for blood sugar control. If it’taken along with other diabetes medications, it could cause blood sugar levels to drop too low. Plus, the effects cinnamon has on blood sugar levels may vary from person to person, and the effects may be hard to predict.
Cassia cinnamon, the kind most commonly found in supermarkets, contains an ingredient called coumarin which can be toxic to the liver. It also has a blood-thinning effect that could be dangerous for people who take blood thinners. A less common form of cinnamon called Ceylon cinnamon doesn’t contain coumarin, and is a safer option for cinnamon users.
The Bottom Line
Since the response to cinnamon can be so variable, if it’s used to lower blood sugar levels, it should be taken under a doctor’s care with close monitoring. Until larger clinical trials are carried out, it’s best to stick with tried-and-true methods of lowering blood sugar levels – exercise, a lower carbohydrate diet, and medications – when needed.
Medscape.com website. “Cinnamon Supplementation in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus”