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What Are Pros and Cons of Cinnamon for Blood Sugar?

You may be able to use a common and delicious spice to help control blood sugar. Before you do, learn about the pros and cons of cinnamon.
What Are Pros and Cons of Cinnamon for Blood Sugar?
Cinnamon sticks

Millions of American adults have prediabetes. The CDC defines this as having fasting blood sugar over 100 but less than 126 mg/dL, the cut-off for a diagnosis of diabetes. Learning that you have prediabetes can be alarming, but it offers an opportunity to make changes that will reverse the condition and prevent full-blown diabetes. Regular physical activity and a high-nutrient, low-energy diet are central to this effort. Spices and condiments may also contribute to blood sugar control, so you may want to learn about the pros and cons of cinnamon. Many readers like to use it to lower their blood sugar.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Cinnamon?

Q. My blood sugar was 101. I did some reading on the internet and found out that I might be able to reduce it by taking cinnamon.
Every morning, I put less than a teaspoon in my coffee. After a month my blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides all went into the normal range. My blood sugar is now 81.

Pros of Cinnamon:

A. Cinnamon can help lower blood sugar, according to a recent meta-analysis (Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, online Aug. 16, 2019). Scientists studying rats demonstrated that a water-based extract of cinnamon paired with high-intensity exercise can reverse metabolic syndrome (Nutrition, Sep. 2019). In addition, this spice has intriguing anti-cancer activity (European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Sep. 15, 2019).

Cons of Cinnamon:

There could be negative effects from regular cinnamon consumption, however. Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin, which can damage the liver. The amounts of this compound are variable, and Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylonicum) does not have any coumarin.

Avoiding Coumarin:

Coumarin is not water-soluble, however. Consequently, if you put ground cinnamon in your disposable coffee filter rather than directly in your coffee, you get the benefits from cinnamon without the danger of coumarin. Don’t try this in a reusable filter; ground cinnamon can create a gummy mess.

Possible Interactions:

A recent case report warns of the dangers of cinnamon interacting with oral anticoagulants (European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine, online July 19, 2019). An 80-year-old man who had been taking dabigatran (Pradaxa) for atrial fibrillation started taking a solution of cinnamon and ginger. Three days later he was vomiting blood and his stool was black with blood. The doctors were unable to control his intestinal bleeding and he died. There may be other factors that contributed to this tragedy. However, to be prudent, people taking anticoagulant medicines should not use cinnamon as medicine. 

You can learn more about using cinnamon and other natural flavoring compounds in our book, Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs and Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life. 

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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. .
Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life

Learn about the latest research on the surprising health benefits of herbs and spices. Find out how to make home remedies with spices that can help with common health problems.

Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life
  • Deyno S et al, "Efficacy and safety of cinnamon in type 2 diabetes mellitus and pre-diabetes patients: A meta-analysis and meta-regression." Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, online Aug. 16, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.diabres.2019.107815
  • Fayaz E et al, "Cinnamon extract combined with high-intensity endurance training alleviates metabolic syndrome via non-canonical WNT signaling." Nutrition, Sep. 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.nut.2019.03.009
  • Sadeghi S et al, "Anti-cancer effects of cinnamon: Insights into its apoptosis effects." European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Sep. 15, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2019.05.067
  • Maadarani O et al, "Adding herbal products to direct-acting oral anticoagulants can be fatal." European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine, online July 19, 2019. doi: 10.12890/2019_001190
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