When it comes to the question of whether or not cinnamon truly lowers the A1C of those with diabetes, the official answer of the American Diabetes Association is… Maybe. Used as a folk remedy to lower blood sugar for thousands of years, modern studies conducted to determine its effectiveness have had mixed results. Here is a look at what scientists have learned about cinnamon and diabetes and what has yet to be uncovered.
The Good News
In 2009, a study conducted at Maryland’s Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center indicated that cinnamon could lower the A1C of those with type 2 diabetes by up to 29%. Participants in this study also experienced reduced cholesterol as well. A 2012 study at the Xuhui District Central Hospital in Shanghai also showed promise for cinnamon but lowered A1C levels by only 7%. While many studies have been inconclusive, these two and other like them suggest that it may be possible for cinnamon to produce lower A1C test results.
Not all the news is good, however. To date, most of the studies have involved small numbers of people. Most have studied about 60 people, with half of them receiving a placebo rather than cinnamon. That means each study looked at about only 30 cinnamon takers, which is far too few to come to wholesale conclusions.
Another potential problem with these studies is that they have not monitored the origin of the cinnamon used. There are two types of cinnamon readily available on the market, and both are made with the bark of evergreen trees. It is possible that the type of cinnamon may be significant as could the process through which it is refined. While cinnamon has shown some promise for those with type 2 diabetes, it is of note that it seems to have no effect on type 1.
Much more research must be done before cinnamon’s effectiveness at lowering A1C level can be firmly confirmed or denied. Cinnamon is safe for most people to consume, so feel free to sprinkle it on your applesauce or take supplemental cinnamon capsules. Do not, however, use cinnamon as a substitute for your diabetes medication or depend solely on the spice to help you achieve desirable results on your A1C tests. While cinnamon almost certainly won’t hurt you, it is not yet part of any recommended diabetes treatment plans and should never be used as a substitute for your doctor’s prescriptions or advice.
It is important to speak to your doctor before adding more cinnamon to your diet if you have liver problems. Cinnamon may also interact with certain supplements and could result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in some people. Talk to your doctor is you are already taking prescription medications as well as the following supplements:
- Alpha lipoic acid
- Bitter melon
- Devil’s claw
- Horse chestnut
- Siberian ginseng