Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cinnamon for blood sugars

Does cinnamon improve blood sugars?

I saw a patient with Type 1 Diabetes last week using an insulin pump.
She told me she was taking cinnamon also to help her sugars.

So would cinnamon improve blood sugars in this person?

There are absolutely no data at this time in humans to indicate that cinnamon supplements help Type 1 Diabetes. But the story is quite different for Type 2 Diabetes.

In 2003, a report out of Pakistan suggested that cinnamon might help with blood glucose control in Type 2 Diabetes. Since then other studies have yielded mixed results. Some positive, others negative.

The most recent report of a larger group of persons with Type 2 Diabetes showed a 0.5% reduction in Hemoglobin A1c as compared to placebo. The trial lasted 12 weeks. All patients were also on prescription medication for their diabetes. The cinnamon was given 3 times a day at a total daily dose of 2 grams.

This was a well-designed, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon is about 2.4 grams.
Lower doses of cinnamon appear to be ineffective.

The mechanism of cinnamon effect is probably by way of an improvement in insulin action. Keep in mind that not all cinnamon is the same. Cassia cinnamon is the type used in these trials. Most cinnamon sold as a spice has some cassia cinnamon in it.

The 2 gram dose of cinnamon daily appears to be safe in clinical trials. But these have been for only 3-4 months. Not nearly long enough to be sure about long term safety.

And the effect on glucose is quite small. Fasting glucose dropped only 14 mg/dl.

And the drop in Hemoglobin A1c is even less than what’s typically seen with the least effective prescription medications for Type 2 diabetes.

So if you decide to take cinnamon don't expect any big effect. And don't feel confident about long term safety. Even if it's natural.

Keep monitoring your blood glucose.
Keep up your visits with your endocrinologist.
And let him know if you are taking cinnamon.

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