cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon

In type 2 diabetes, blood sugar and insulin tend to spike after meals. Insulin is often present, sometimes even plentiful, in type 2 diabetes, but it isn’t efficient. There is a bewildering array of prescription drugs designed to improve the action of insulin; there are also some non-drug approaches that may be helpful. You may have heard that cinnamon can help, but which cinnamon works best?

Which Cinnamon Should You Choose?

Q. I have read on your website that people with diabetes can take cinnamon to help control blood glucose levels. I understand that there are two kinds of cinnamon, cassia and Ceylon. Is there a difference in effectiveness? Which cinnamon is better?

A. A number of studies have shown that cinnamon can lower fasting blood glucose and (in some studies) HbA1c, a measure of glucose control over several weeks (Clinical Nutrition, Oct., 2012; Nutrition Research, June, 2012; Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Sep. 12, 2012; International Journal of Preventive Medicine, Aug., 2012; Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology, Feb. 21, 2016). Some studies found that cinnamon helped moderate blood sugar but did not improve insulin sensitivity (Journal of Dietary Supplements, July/Aug., 2016). Most of these studies did not specify which cinnamon they used. In many instances, it was probably cassia cinnamon, readily available in supermarkets.

Is Ceylon Cinnamon More Helpful?

It is possible that Ceylon cinnamon, also known as “true” cinnamon, might also be able to moderate blood sugar levels after meals and help control type 2 diabetes. It has been tested in in animal research (Nutrition Journal, online Oct. 16, 2015). French scientists have also found that Ceylon cinnamon extract can block an enzyme (alpha-amylase) that breaks starch down into its constituent sugars (BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Sep. 23, 2014). As a result, healthy volunteers getting this extract had a significantly lower increase in blood sugar after a meal.

Unfortunately, there are no studies comparing cassia to Ceylon cinnamon, so we can’t answer your question about effectiveness. We hope there will soon be more high-quality trials such as this one, under the code name CINNAMON (Trials, Jan. 5, 2016). We are sending you our Guide to Managing Diabetes for more information on using cinnamon and other non-drug approaches to control blood sugar.

What Are the Dangers?

One important difference between the two types of cinnamon is that cassia cinnamon contains coumarin, which may be harmful to the liver. (You can read more about that here.) Ceylon cinnamon has no measurable amount of coumarin.

If you choose to use either form of cinnamon to moderate blood sugar after meals, it is very important to keep good measurements of your blood glucose. This will tell if the cinnamon is helping, and it will alert you if your blood sugar falls too low. You will also need to discuss this with your physician, as some of your other diabetes medicines might need adjustment. Your doctor may also want to monitor your liver enzymes to make sure the cinnamon is not doing more harm than good.

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  1. Sandy
    AK
    Reply

    I tried fresh Saigon cinnamon and after 5 days got a bloody nose… (The only other time this happened was when I was adding a Tablespoon of flax seeds to my smoothies and that happened at least 5 years ago.) Guess I may be the canary in the coal mine as far as cassia cinnamon goes.

    I had been using Ceylon and have switched back.

  2. BB
    Reply

    Ceylon cinnamon (found in stores, but usually only in the curled up sticks) has a significantly lower level of coumarin, which as the article mentions is the culprit in harming the liver. Ceylon cinnamon has a more “earthy taste”, and a more subtle spice than the Cassia type people use in cooking.

    For blood sugar results, I noticed it took a bit more Ceylon to have the same result as the Cassia did on lowering blood sugar… taken before or after eating. But it is safer to consume the Ceylon, because even in a double dose, it contains much less coumarin. Hope this helps! I ordered a 1lb bag of it off Amazon.

  3. Norman
    Winter Springs Florida 34606
    Reply

    If you buy cinnamon in a bottle like McCormick, or 5th Season or Bakers select there is nothing on bottle to tell what type cinnamon it is—and is it just as good for weight loss and blood pressure or is ordering something like Ceylon cinnamon better for your health or is there really a difference????

  4. Melissa Mellie
    Reply

    Thank you very much. High blood pressure and high blood sugar are dangers for health. You have to care this and take good medications for the treatment of this problem.

  5. Sybilla
    Niagara Falls Ny
    Reply

    I take Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamonum Cassia) Extract 4:1. Would you be able to tell me what category this falls in…….good or bad????? I don’t have diabetes, but it runs in my family, so it is more like a preventative measure. I am an active person and not overweight . Any information would be appreciated. Thank you very much .

  6. Julie
    Elma, New york
    Reply

    One can purchase Ceylon Cinnamon through Amazon or Swanson Vitamins. I use Capsules and my mom uses the powder since she has difficulties swallowing pills. I only use labeled cinnamon. I could not find it in any of the stores here in Western New York.

  7. Wilma
    Winnipeg, Canada
    Reply

    I was taking cinnamon capsules for close to five years (cassia) but stopped because I fear liver damage,is there another cinnamon that is safer?

  8. Laura
    Reply

    I put one tsp cinnamon in oatmeal every morning. Is this amount harmful? Like the commenter above stated, there is nothing on the powdered cinnamon label to indicate what kind of cinnamon it is.

  9. DJ61
    Reply

    What about Saigon? Any studies on that type of cinnamon?

    • Terry Graedon
      Reply

      Saigon or Vietnamese cinnamon is a form of cassia cinnamon.

  10. Judy
    Milwaukee
    Reply

    I have a subscription to Consumer Lab. They test drugs, vitamins, and some other things and publish the results. I recently looked up cinnamon, and the best one was FRONTIER ORGANIC CEYLON CINNAMON.

  11. Fran
    Reply

    Ceylon cinnamon is considerably more expensive so it’s unlikely that any large studies will be
    undertaken using it. But I’ve read that small studies have shown both varieties are effective
    and I’d certainly choose to avoid anything that harms the liver, so Ceylon seems a good place to
    start.

  12. Judy
    Charlotte NC
    Reply

    Food stores sell powdered and stick cinnamon but they are never labeled as to which type. I always buy stick cinnamon and notice some are darker in color, hard, like a tree branch, and some are lighter in color, quite soft and easy to break. Please advise which is wnich by this description.

    • Elizabeth
      AR
      Reply

      Ceylon cinnamon is also known as soft cinnamon, which is one way to tell the two kinds apart. It is also lighter in color.

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