Can cinnamon help or prevent prediabetes? Given that almost 40% of Americans have prediabetes (metabolic syndrome) this is a question people are starting to wonder about as they deal with their elevated blood sugar levels. Prediabetes is the forerunner of type II diabetes. So, it's serious. In this review, the research on this simple spice and prediabetics (metabolic syndrome) will be discussed. You'll discover how much works, the brands that have been shown to help, and the side effects you should be aware of.
There Are Different Types of Cinnamon
There are over 250 species of cinnamon. Just a few include:
- Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia)
- Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)
- Saigon cinnamon (Cinnamomum loureirii)
While all types are from the same family of trees, there may be differences in how effective they are at lowering blood sugar and A1C levels. Is it possible this is why some studies show the spice works while others show it doesn't?
Most of the blood sugar-lowering proof involves Cassia cinnamon.
Can Cinnamon Help Type II Diabetes
Most studies have used Cassia cinnamon so that's probably what you will see in supplements. There have been several clinical investigations on this spice and diabetes. Some studies say it helps while others find it doesn't. Here are a couple of those investigations.
In one of the better reports, researchers looked at 10 previous studies which, involved 543 diabetics. The results noted Cassia cinnamon was effective at lowering:
- Blood sugar
- Total cholesterol
- LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol)
These researchers did not see any benefit to A1C levels.
In another study, 109 people with type 2 diabetes were given 1000 mg of cinnamon for 3 months. Those taking the spice showed a slight reduction in A1C levels (about 1%). One downside was there was no placebo group. This study used the Puritans Pride brand of cinnamon.
Summary Of Diabetes Research
- While some of the reports are encouraging, a problem is researchers often use different dosages. In some reports researchers used about 100 mg a day while in others more than 5000 mg a day was used. If we look at just the successful studies, the sweet spot may be between 500mg -1500mg.
- Not all studies show cinnamon can lower hemoglobin A1C (HBA1c). This measures long-term blood sugar levels and is an important marker for how bad your diabetes is.
- Remember most studies looked at type II diabetes (the most common type)
- Studies tend to show cinnamon does not help type I diabetes
What Does All This Mean?
- If you have type I diabetes, cinnamon might not help you.
- If you have type II diabetes (the most common form), it's possible cinnamon may help lower your blood sugar levels, although not all the evidence shows this happens. If you take medications, like metformin or insulin, cinnamon might cause your blood sugar to go to low. So, it's best to speak to your doctor.
- Ideally, the best thing would be to prevent diabetes from happening in the first place.
What Is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes (metabolic syndrome) is a term used by doctors for those who have several of the following:
- Having a large waistline (35 to 40 inches for women and men respectively)
- Higher than normal fasting blood sugar levels (100-125 mg/dl)
- Elevated blood pressure
- High triglyceride levels
- Low HDL levels (good cholesterol)
Prediabetes raises the risk of type II diabetes. So, it's serious.
Almost 40% of US adults have prediabetes. Many aren't aware they have it. If you have some or most of these symptoms, it's best to deal with them now so they don't get out of control and progress to type II diabetes.
So, can cinnamon help prediabetes?
Let's look at the proof.
Cinnamon And Prediabetes
So how much does cinnamon help prediabetes? The good news is there is some research. The bad news is there isnt much of it. Here is a rundown on what we know.
Researchers in both South Korea and the US conducted a 3-month study that involved 54 men and women with prediabetes. The people ranged in age from 20-70. They were split into the following groups:
- Cinnamon group
- placebo group
The dosage of cinnamon was 1500 mg cinnamon a day (500 mg taken 3 times a day).
Those taking 1500 mg of cinnamon (Solgar brand) which contains Cinnamomum burmannii or Indonesian cinnamon:
- had lower blood sugar levels
- reduced levels of HBA1C
These effects were not seen in those taking the placebo. There were no side effects either (that's good).
HBA1c is a measure of long term blood sugar. The normal A1C level is less than 6. In this study, the A1C levels of some people were reduced so much they would no longer be classified as prediabetic.
In a smaller investigation, researchers looked at the effects of 12 g of cinnamon a day for 12 weeks. Despite the higher dosage, these researchers saw no change in insulin sensitivity, blood sugar or A1C levels. Oddly, it was the placebo group which showed a reduction in insulin levels. On the plus side, there were no liver problems reported despite the high dosage used.
What Does This Mean?
- Few studies have looked at cinnamon helping prediabetes
- No study has yet shown the spice can prevent you from getting type II diabetes
Any Cinnamon Side Effects?
- Start with less than recommended for the first week
- Pregnant or breastfeeding? Ask your doctor first.
- Stop at least 2 weeks before surgery due to its blood-thinning effects
- Ask your doctor if you take blood thinner medications like warfarin (coumadin)
- If you take any medications including metformin or insulin, ask your doctor first
- The spice might interact with other blood sugar-lowering supplements like chromium and berberine. This may make your blood sugar go too low.
Cinnamon is sometimes criticized because it contains coumarin, a compound found in many plants. Cassia cinnamon has more than most. Coumarin is thought to be liver toxic in high doses. Most of the research comes from animal studies but it has been reported in a 73-year-old woman. There are not many human reports of liver damage from this spice.
That said, the risks of cinnamon vs. type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome are not the same. There are far more health risks of having type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
What Do I Suggest?
If you're going to try a supplement, here are the brands and dosages found to help prediabetes and type II diabetes:
Of those, I'd go with the Solgar brand first.
Suggestions: Pick one and stick with it for a month or so. You'll know by then if it's lowering blood sugar. It may take at least 3 months to see reductions in A1C levels. Do not take all of these supplements at the same time.
Does Cinnamin Work?
So does it help prediabetes? While several studies have noted cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels, only a few of them have specifically looked at people with metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes). I think there is enough research to suggest cinnamon can modestly lower blood sugar levels. That said, if cinnamon pills are going to be an effective treatment for reversing and curing prediabetes, they need to be combined with eating fewer calories, weight loss, and exercise.