Cinnamon is being used for flavouring foods and as a part of religious rituals for almost 4,000 years. It is also an essential spice in some traditional medicines because of its properties such as improving blood circulation, alleviating abdominal discomfort and treating infections. Today, studies point to the use of cinnamon in treating type 2 diabetes.[1,2] But how effective is cinnamon in treating diabetes?
About type 2 diabetes
The human body cells depend on blood sugar or glucose for energy. Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone that circulates in the blood, and its function includes transferring the glucose in the blood to cells in the body. Insulin works by attaching itself to insulin receptors present in a cells’ structure and acts as a thoroughfare to allow the transfer of glucose to body cells. The insulin receptors in people with type 2 diabetes resist this glucose transfer. As a result, glucose remains in the blood, increasing a person’s blood sugar levels.
Cinnamon for diabetic patients
In addition to reducing inflammation and increasing antioxidant activity, cinnamon has certain chemicals that stimulate insulin receptors to reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar. Studies looking into the effectiveness of cinnamon in the treatment of type 2 diabetes show the following results:
- A study was conducted to examine the use of cinnamon in improving fasting blood glucose (FBG) levels. FBG is both a common and reliable test for diabetes as it measures blood glucose levels after a minimum of eight hours of fasting. As a part of the study, some subjects were given 1 g of cinnamon daily at lunch and dinner, some 3 g daily and some 6 g daily. The study found that all three groups were given cinnamon showed reduced levels of FBG.
- In yet another study, 150 participants were divided into three groups. One group was given a placebo, and the second and third groups were given 3 g and 6 g cinnamon daily, respectively, distributed over three meals. In the end, both the cinnamon-consuming groups had reduced FBG levels.
While some studies confirm the positive results of cinnamon, the verdict still seems to be out about the definitive impact of cinnamon in reducing glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. In fact, in one study, the glucose levels of patients with type 2 diabetes did not decrease even after consuming 1 g cinnamon for 30 and 60 days.
Then why go the spice route?
Diabetes is a serious health problem, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO) report, there will be about 366 million patients with diabetes worldwide by 2030. The average annual cost of diabetes treatment is estimated at $13,700 in just the United States. Also, not everyone suffering from diabetes has insurance, so the cost of medication has to be borne by the individuals themselves. Cinnamon supplementation seems to be a cost-effective alternative to drugs for the treatment of diabetes and should be recognized as such.
Medical research suggests that cinnamon helps the body use insulin efficiently. Even though more studies need to be commissioned to confirm the effects of cinnamon in treating type 2 diabetes, the short-term use of cinnamon seems to be working for most people.
- Cornell University. Cinnamon to treat diabetes? [Internet]. [cited 2020 Feb 17]. Available from: http://evidencebasedliving.human.cornell.edu/2013/09/18/cinnamon-to-treat-diabetes.
- Harvard Health Publishing. By the way, doctor: cinnamon as a treatment for diabetes? [Internet]. [cited 2020 Feb 17]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/By-the-way-doctor-Cinnamon-as-treatment-for-diabetes.
- Maddox PJ. Cinnamon in the treatment of type II diabetes [Internet]. [cited 2020 Feb 17]. Available from: https://knowledge.e.southern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1005&context=jigr.
- Hasanzade F, Toliat M, Emami SA, Emamimoghaadam Z. The effect of cinnamon on a glucose of type II diabetes patients. J Tradit Complement Med. 2013 Jul;3(3):171-4. doi: 10.4103/2225-4110.114900.
- Mayo Clinic. Diabetes treatment: can cinnamon lower blood sugar? [Internet]. [updated 2019 Feb 20; cited 2020 Feb 17]. Available from: https://kcms-prod-mcorg.mayo.edu/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/diabetes/faq-20058472.