A spoonful of cinnamon a day really does help keep diabetes at bay. Cinnamon is a safe and inexpensive aromatic spice, which has been used for many years in traditional herbal medicine for the treatment of type-2 diabetes. The active ingredient in cinnamon, MCHP, mimics the action of the hormone insulin, which removes excess sugar from the bloodstream. Cinnamon also appears to reduce blood cholesterol and fat levels[i] and decrease blood pressure.[ii]
While we no doubt have much to learn about cinnamon, animal studies have found that there is a positive effect on blood sugar levels when treated with cinnamon. A study in 2005 found that following a high-sugar meal, cinnamon reduced blood sugar and increased insulin levels for up to 30
[PI]Another animal study found that after just two weeks of cinnamon administration, there were positive effects on fat levels and blood sugar levels, and after six weeks insulin levels and ‘good’ HDL cholesterol had also increased.[iv]
There have also been positive findings in human studies.
A research group found that when people who are in the early stages of diabetes
development rather than just at higher risk were given a cinnamon extract called Cinnulin for 12 weeks, there were improvements in several features of metabolic syndrome (blood sugar levels, blood pressure and body fat percentage).[v]
A follow-on study found that the cinnamon extract also improves antioxidant status, thus potentially giving protection from arterial damage caused by oxidants.[vi]
Another recent study in people with diabetes foundsimilar results. Thirty-nine patients were given cinnamon extract for four months and showed a substantial reduction in post-meal blood sugar levels and a 10 per cent reduction in fasting blood sugar levels. Interestingly, people with diabetes with the poorest blood glucose control showed the biggest improvements with cinnamon.[vii]
How much cinnamon do you need?
Once again, studies are showing us the most effective levels of cinnamon to take. In one study, in 2003, researchers gave three groups of people with diabetes 1g, 3g or 6g (a heaped teaspoon) of cinnamon per day. All responded to the cinnamon within weeks, with blood sugar levels 20 per cent lower on average than those of a control group. Some of the volunteers taking cinnamon even achieved normal blood sugar levels. Tellingly, blood sugarstarted creeping up again after they stopped taking cinnamon. The biggest improvements were seen with the highest dosage.
Another study gave 1g of cinnamon to 25 type-2 diabetics and reported a 10.12% reduction in glucose level after six weeks, and a 17.4% reductino after 12 weeks, compared to placebo.[viii]
A Scandinavian study in which volunteers were given rice pudding, with or without cinnamon, found that those given 3g cinnamon produce less insulin after the meal. In an earlier study the researchers also found that cinnamon may slow down gastric emptying. This would have the effect of slow-releasing the carbohydrates in a meal. This effect was seen with 6g of cinnamon, not 3g. A teaspoon is roughly 3g. A heaped teaspoon is closer to 6g.[ix]
I recommend everyone has a half (1.5g) to 1 teaspoon (3g) per day. Try my Apple and Cinnamon Compote or Scots Porridge with Cinnamon and Apple for two ways to cook with cinnamon.
However, for those with blood sugar issues taking in 3 to 6 grams a day may be most benefical. An easier way to achieve this is to supplement a concentrated extract, Cinnulin, is ten times more effective per gram. So, having 150mg of Cinnulin is equivalent to 1.5g of cinnamon. This, plus half a teaspoon of cinnamon gives you 3g a day.
Cinnulin, together with chromium, is a particularly good combination.
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[i] A. Khan, et al., ‘Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type-2 diabetes’, Diabetes Care, 2003;26(12):3215–18
[ii] H.G. Preuss, et al., ‘Whole cinnamon and aqueous extracts ameliorate sucrose-induced blood pressure elevations in spontaneously hypertensive rats’, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2006 Apr;25(2):144–150
[iii] E. J. Verspohl, et al., ‘Antidiabetic effect of cinnamoncassia and cinnamomum zeylanicum in vivoand in vitro’, Phytotherapy Research, 2005;19(3):203–6
[vi] A-M. Roussel, et al., ‘Antioxidant effects of a cinnamon extract in people with impaired fasting glucose that are overweight or obese’, Journal of the American College of Nutrition,