The People's Perspective on Medicine

Can You Use Cinnamon to Reduce Your Cholesterol?

Adding cinnamon to food or taking a water-extracted cinnamon supplement may help you reduce your cholesterol, triglyceride and blood sugar levels.

Most people want to keep their cholesterol under control, but some would prefer to do so without medication. It is possible to use your diet to lower your cholesterol levels. Some people report that eating oatmeal with cinnamon every morning can make a difference. Will adding cinnamon to your food help reduce your cholesterol?

Reduce Your Cholesterol with Cinnamon and Other Spices:

Q. My doctor has found that my cholesterol is 250 and wants to prescribe a statin to lower it. I’ve read that cinnamon can reduce your cholesterol. Is that true?

A. A meta-analysis of 13 studies found that cinnamon supplementation can lower triglycerides and total cholesterol, although it may not affect LDL cholesterol (Maierean et al, Journal of Clinical Lipidology, Nov-Dec. 2017). 

Other readers have reported success with cinnamon. Here is one testimonial. 

Using Cinnamon to Reduce Your Cholesterol:

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?

Cinnamon Lowers Blood Sugar and Triglycerides:

A. A randomized placebo-controlled trial was published in Diabetes Care (Dec. 2003). As you report, it involved people with type 2 diabetes. 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 (Ballali & Lanciai, International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, March 2012). Another study (Qin et al, Journal of Diabetes, Science and Technology, May 2010) reported that components in cinnamon can help reduce insulin resistance, a forerunner to something called metabolic syndrome and ultimately to diabetes.

In addition to its ability to reduce your cholesterol, cinnamon calms inflammation and inhibits platelet aggregation, making unwanted blood clots less likely (Jiang, Journal of AOAC International, March 2019). Turmeric also may lower cholesterol and perhaps raise beneficial HDL cholesterol (ibid). 

Reader Testimonials on Cinnamon to Reduce Your Cholesterol:

Q. I read your column in my local newspaper and enjoy it very much.  I’ve read some very interesting remedies.

Yesterday your column was on foods such as cinnamon to help lower cholesterol. I’ve been eating cinnamon toast for almost 6 months and am very curious to see if it helps me.

A. The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have teamed up to recommend statins for tens of millions of Americans. We suspect that lots of folks would like to control their cholesterol with food first. A surprising number of foods can actually make a difference on these numbers. Cinnamon is just one of them (Allen et al, Annals of Family Medicine, Sept-Oct. 2013). A study of cinnamon, cardamom, saffron and ginger found that each of these spices lowered cholesterol over the course of two months (Azimi et al, Review of Diabetic Studies, Fall-Winter 2014).

Other readers have reported their experiences. You may find them helpful.

Jim wrote:

“I have been using Saigon cinnamon for about two months as a supplement to my diet and medication. It goes in my coffee, cereal, or oatmeal (at least once daily in the morning).

“A sprinkle of cinnamon daily keeps my blood sugar from spiking. I still must maintain a diet of low carbs and no sugar, but my glucose remains fairly constant levels (between 70 and 140) whereas without the spice it would spike sometimes as high as 230 for no apparent reason. Also, my A1C has dropped to 6.1 from the low 8s during this time.”

Diane also experienced benefit:

“I am a Type 1 diabetic. Cinnamon really does work for me. If you are a Type 2 diabetic, don’t assume that it will decrease your blood glucose levels to a ‘normal’ level. There’s no cure for this disease, obviously.

“I have noticed that cinnamon does a lot for me and my ailments from diabetes like my blood sugar level, cholesterol level, blood pressure readings, regularity, and gastroparesis [slow stomach emptying].  I found many benefits from cinnamon.”

JLB got two benefits from a cinnamon extract:

“I tried a concentrated form called Cinnulin 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.”

Morning Star had a response she didn’t expect:

“These cinnamon stories really caught my attention. For over a year, I’ve been eating daily oatmeal with a sprinkling of it, in the hope of helping reduce my cholesterol. I’ve also noticed that my Raynaud’s [a circulatory problem where hands get very cold] has not been as severe as it had been, but I never made the connection until reading material on this website. Coincidence?

“I’d be cautious about taking capsules because overdose is a possibility. However, I think I will sprinkle a bit more on my oatmeal.”

Hazards of Cinnamon:

It is smart to be cautious; too much cassia cinnamon (the usual kind from the grocery store) could have enough coumarin in it to harm the liver. If you were taking a statin-type cholesterol-lowering drug and added cinnamon to reduce your cholesterol even further, you might put yourself at risk for hepatitis (Brancheau et al, American Journal of Case Reports, April 29, 2015).

Coumarin is not present in water-extracted concentrates such as Cinnulin. Moreover, it appears not to be present in any significant quantity in Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), which is also sold as canela in Latin or Mexican grocery stores.

Learn More:

Scientific research on the metabolic effects of cinnamon, turmeric and other spices is not yet up to the highest standards one would wish. Consequently, 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. We have compiled research about the healing power of cinnamon and other spices as well as common foods from the kitchen in our book, Spice Up Your Health

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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  • Maierean et al, "The effects of cinnamon supplementation on blood lipid concentrations: A systematic review and meta-analysis." Journal of Clinical Lipidology, Nov-Dec. 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.jacl.2017.08.004
  • Khan et al, "Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes." Diabetes Care, Dec. 2003. vol. 26, no. 12, pp. 3215-3218.
  • Ballali & Lanciai, "Functional food and diabetes: A natural way in diabetes prevention?" International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, March 2012. DOI: 10.3109/09637486.2011.637487
  • Qin et al, "Cinnamon: Potential role in the prevention of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes." Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, May 2010. DOI: 10.1177/193229681000400324
  • Jiang et al, "Health benefits of culinary herbs and spices." Journal of AOAC International, March 1, 2019. DOI: 10.5740/jaoacint.18-0418
  • Allen et al, "Cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis." Annals of Family Medicine, Sep-Oct. 2013. DOI: 10.1370/afm.1517
  • Azimi et al, "Effects of cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, and ginger consumption on markers of glycemic control, lipid profile, oxidative stress, and inflammation in type 2 diabetes patients." The Review of Diabetic Studies, Fall-Winter 2014. DOI: 10.1900/RDS.2014.11.258
  • Brancheau, Patel & Zughaib, "Do cinnamon supplements cause acute hepatitis?" American Journal of Case Reports, April 29, 2015. DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.892804
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My blood sugar was 101. So I did some reading on the internet and found out that I might be able to reduce my blood sugar by using cinnamon. I use less than a teaspoon in my coffee every morning for a month and my blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides all went into the normal range. My blood sugar is now 81.

I was recently diagnosed with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease/Stage 1-2 on the Echochosens Liver Sonogram. Would it be safe for me to use Ceylon Cinnamon to bring down my A1c now at 6.3? I’m trying to lose 60 lbs via Healthy Keto/Intermittent Fasting and to reverse the fibrosis/fatty liver.

One year ago my LDL cholesterol was 204 and this year it was 174. I did not however use any prescription medication during that time frame but did however use a tsp of Ceylon cinnamon each day for breakfast. I swim on a regular basis and stay active and am 70 years old. I take 20 MG of Omeprazole for Barretts Esophagus. After reading that cinnamon can cause liver problems I stopped taking it. After have read some of the posts on your website I am now wondering if I can resume taking the cinnamon on a daily basis. Also, someone suggested that I take turmeric with black pepper for the pain in my knees but am concerned if the black pepper could possibly lead to problems with the Barretts. Your thoughts, please

I’m going to try cinnamon. It sounds like several people have had great results!

I have read that not all cinnamon is the same and that it is cinnamon verum (aka Ceylon cinnamon) that has the best effect. To that end I now take a 600 mg capsule in the morning and another at suppertime. I buy it from Swanson because it is not sole in the vitamin aisles of any food market or drugstore that’s I’ve checked. If you order from Swanson, you’ll get notices of sales and you can stock up at that time.

I’ve read several of your articles about cinnamon and blood sugar and now cholesterol. A year ago my glucose numbers were trending upward, getting as high as 119, and I did not want to progress to a diabetes Dx. For three months, I added approximately 1/2 T cinnamon to my ground coffee and the number dropped into the mid-90s, safer but still a little high.

After nine months, at my annual physical not only had my blood sugar dropped to 75, but my cholesterol was down from 215 to 176; my HDL was up and my LDL slightly lower. I had cut much in the way of carbs and sugar during that time period but both my PCP and cardiologist were impressed with the difference. Whether it’s attributable to the cinnamon, I don’t know. My endocrinologist says for some cinnamon works, and for others it doesn’t, but worth trying.

Two years ago I started to add one teaspoon each of ceylon cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric plus a little black pepper to my morning smoothie. I was told by my doctor that I am prediabetic and therefore wanted to reverse that diagnosis. My last two blood tests for fasting glucose level decreased, also my A1c. I know for a fact that these spices among hundreds of others do work. For thousands of years, spices were used not just to make food taste good but more importantly as medicine. Flesh and blood haven’t changed, and neither have spices. To be successful, consistency is needed because most spices when used in moderation will not build up in the blood and become toxic like man made prescription drugs.

so how much cinnamon should one take daily?
Saigon or regular. and dosage is ??

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