Reports about the possible benefits of cinnamon for people who have type 2 diabetes have been circulating for years, and not all of them have been positive. A new study from China, however, bears some sweet news and lends support to the research on the positive side of the issue.
What benefit is cinnamon in type 2 diabetes?
A research team from Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, led by Yan Chen, set out to determine if supplements of cinnamon extract could help control blood sugar (glucose) and triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes. The investigators used a water extract of cinnamon rather than whole or ground cinnamon.
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The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 66 individuals with type 2 diabetes who were assigned to one of three groups: placebo, 120 mg of cinnamon supplement daily, or 360 mg daily for three months. All the participants were also taking the antidiabetic drug gliclazide, a sulfonylurea like glipizide and glyburide.
After three months, fasting blood glucose levels were significantly lower in patients who took cinnamon: an average of 1.01 mmol/L in the low-dose group and 1.62 mmol/L in the high-dose group. No change was observed in the placebo group.
Triglyceride levels also were significantly lower in the low-dose group by an average of 0.78 mmol/L, but only slightly lower in the high-dose group.
Based on their findings, the researchers proposed “that cinnamon be considered a promising supplement for the therapy of type 2 diabetes when hyperglycemia cannot be satisfactorily controlled by other strategies such as diet, exercise, and prescribed medication.”
They also noted that “the effect of cinnamon on blood glucose control is likely dependent on the form of cinnamon used for the patients,” and that the “different extraction methods might affect the efficacy of cinnamon.” Some studies, however, have seen good results with other forms of cinnamon.
Other studies of cinnamon in type 2 diabetes
A meta-analysis conducted at the University of California-Davis included eight clinical studies of the impact of whole cinnamon and cinnamon extract on people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. The authors reported that both types of cinnamon use resulted in a statistically significant decline in fasting blood glucose.
In a more recent meta-analysis, this one from the University of West London, investigators examined the impact of cinnamon on glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Six randomized controlled trials with a total of 435 patients were considered.
Overall, the reviewers found that use of cinnamon resulted in a significant decrease in mean hemoglobin A1c and mean fasting plasma glucose. They concluded that cinnamon had a good effect on glycemic control and that the short-term effects looked “promising.”
As always, more research is needed to better determine the role of cinnamon in managing this growing epidemic. The most recent study provides some sweet news for individuals with type 2 diabetes who are looking for natural ways, like cinnamon, to help them with this task.
Akilen R et al. Cinnamon in glycaemic control: systematic review and meta analysis. Clinical Nutrition 2012 May 12
Davis PA, Yokoyama W. Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis. Journal of Medicinal Food 2011 Sep; 14(9): 884-89
Lu T et al. Cinnamon extract improves fasting blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin level in Chinese patients with type 2 diabetes. Nutrition Research 2012 June published online. DOI: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.05.003
On a recent trip to Sir Lanka, the cinnamon growers were also saying its beneficial for Type 1s