Q. I tried making a cinnamon extract with hot water to help with blood sugar as described in your column. I ended up with a gooey glob. Please provide exact proportions of spice to water so I don't have to deal with the mess.

A. Research shows that ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon before a meal can reduce the rise in blood sugar after eating. We worry, however, that the spice could contain coumarin, a compound that occurs naturally in cinnamon. Regular intake of coumarin could damage the liver.

We suggested putting ¼ or ½ teaspoon cinnamon in a paper coffee filter and pouring a cup of hot water over it. The resulting liquid contains the active ingredient without coumarin.

One reader has a slightly different technique: “I put about 2 teaspoons cinnamon in my coffee filter and then put my coffee grounds on top so I get the benefits of the cinnamon and it cuts any bitterness from the coffee. I turned all my family and friends on to this and my mother-in-law was able to go off her diabetes medicine that she'd been on for years!”

We imagine that two teaspoons of cinnamon is enough for a whole pot of coffee. Anyone who uses cinnamon to lower blood sugar should be under medical supervision and should monitor blood glucose regularly.

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  1. Jeanne Sullivan

    I have been adding the cinnamon to the coffee grounds for the past 3-4 months. On my recent annual blood test (profile 1) the SGOT (AST) result was 47 vs a reference of 4-44 IU/L. From what I read, that could indicate liver problems. Last year the reading was 39 and 36 the year before. I have stopped taking the cinnamon. How sure are you that the coumarin doesn’t get into the coffee.

  2. BJR

    This article could not be any more timely for my husband and myself. I’d read ‘somewhere’ that cinnamon was good for lowering blood sugar and my husband was on 12 meds at one time and is very sensitive to all of them. Therefore I wanted to help to get his blood sugar under better control, so I started giving him 1 heaping tsp. of cinnamon every morning in natural applesauce along with his glyconutritional and a small amt. of Stevia to make the cinnamon palatable.
    I did not know that cinnamon could cause liver disease. At present he is off of many of the meds that gave him much trouble but now he is experiencing much weakness again and I’ve been very concerned. All the doctors really want to do is keep my husband on all of the meds–even though he was almost physically non functional. He has several other diseases [Cerebral Atrophy, celiac] and particularly the CA the doctors have given us no help, thus the glyconutritional.
    What symptoms would signal liver damage?? We will pull back from this immediately. Help– I need information.

  3. V. S.

    I’m going to change my cinnamon routine to accomodate this (new to me) information about coumarin. I’ve been adding a round tablespoon of cinnamon to the oatmeal my husband and I enjoy each morning. Now I’ll mix the water and cinnamon and filter it before adding it to the oatmeal.
    We also include a tablespoon of vanilla and a handful of raisins. Then we add a handful of chopped walnuts for each of us.

  4. ACS

    My physician recently started me on Byetta. Do you forsee any problem with me taking cinnamon and Byetta at the same time?

  5. KR

    Now I’m confused and concerned. I have been having cottage cheese with a few shakes of ground cinnamon for breakfast each morning. Do I need to be concerned? What constitutes “regular intake”? My husband won’t go for cinnamon in his coffee every morning!

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