cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon

Q. I am curious about the health value of cinnamon. A year ago, I ran across a Web site suggesting cinnamon to reduce bad LDL cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. I do not have this disease, but I wanted to improve my LDL with this spice.
I’ve been working to improve my cholesterol levels with exercise and healthy diet. For about 10 years, my typical LDL was 135 while my HDL was 35. My siblings have similar numbers.
This year’s numbers were 114 and 43. My total cholesterol dropped from 192 to 170 and my triglycerides went from 98 to 65. The only change that I did in the last year was to have 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon on my breakfast every morning. I am pleasantly surprised. I like cinnamon and plan to continue taking it regularly. Most members of my family are politely skeptical. Have you seen any research?

A. A randomized placebo-controlled trial was published in Diabetes Care (Dec. 2003). As you report, it involved type 2 diabetics. The scientists found that cinnamon can help lower blood sugar, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Since that study there has been other research to suggest that cinnamon (as well as bitter melon, Gymnema sylvestre, fenugreek, coffee, etc) may play a role in diabetes prevention and blood sugar control (International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, Nov. 2011). Another study (Journal of Diabetes, Science and Technology) reported that components in cinnamon can help reduce insulin resistance, a fore-runner to something called metabolic syndrome and ultimately to diabetes.
It is still early days in cinnamon research and physicians are understandably cautious when it comes to recommending a common household spice to treat serious conditions like diabetes or high cholesterol. We have heard from others, however, that a small dose of cinnamon may sometimes help control triglycerides and blood sugar. Higher doses, however, could be hazardous due to liver-damaging coumarin found in cinnamon.
We have compiled research about the healing power of cinnamon and other spices as well as common foods from the kitchen in our book The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. Act now and get our book, Recipes and Remedies for FREE (a $14.95 value). We think Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, was on to something when he said “Let food be your medicine.”

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  1. mary
    new jersey

    After having servere reactions to statins I stopped any treatment for high cholesterol until I read your article about cinnamon. I’m happy to report that in 3 short months my total cholesterol has gone down 32 points, ldl down 22 points, triglycerides down 65 points and HDL up 3 points. I have been grinding about a teasp. of fresh cinnamon on apple slices daily. That is the only change I have made that I can attribute these positive results to.
    I read your column every week in the Asbury Park Press and am thankful for your contributions.

  2. L Ryan

    I need the answer to Sha’s question of 1/14/12, also. I’m on Coumadin, stopped statins last year and now my cholesterol has gone over 200. I’d rather use cinnamon than go back on statins.

  3. Sha

    Is cinnamon a concern for those of us on warfarin?

  4. Patti

    The cinnamon in the grocery store is cassia and that is what Richard Anderson used in the study. I am trying cinnamon extract again on my husband. Glucose is too high (fasting) It’s 110. I put 3 heaping Tablespoons and 1 Tablespoon baking soda in a glass jar and pour boiling water on it. I may have to stir it a bit, not much though or it gets murky. Let it cool and let the sludge settle down. Don’t drink the sludge VBG just the clear cinnamon water. Take a 1/4 cup after each meal and see if it helps the glucose. ps the recipe is supposed to be from Broadhurst she may have it in one
    of her books. Too much straight cinnamon is not safe. 1 gram a day is supposed to be ok.

  5. Paul43

    Is the powered stuff you buy in a health food store as good as the capsules?

  6. J.L.B.

    I tried a concentrated form of cinnamon called cinnulin (purchased from Swanson Vitamin Co.) for lowering my glucose level. It helped with that and surprisingly it lowered my triglycerides from 61 down to 51. I got a double benefit.

  7. JWM

    Is all cinnamon the same—from a health food store or the grocery store? If not, is there any way to tell which one to get?
    Thanks for any info.
    People’s Pharmacy response: The research was done with cassia cinnamon, the inexpensive cinnamon found int he grocery store in the spice section.

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