Scientists move closer to understanding how cinnamon is beneficial for diabetics

by Barbara Hewitt on September 11, 2013

The theory that cinnamon can be beneficial in treating or preventing diabetes has been around for a while but studies have been small and inconclusive.

But now researchers have taken a step forward in this line of study and found that people with type 2 diabetes who took cinnamon supplements had lower fasting plasma glucose levels compared with people who didn’t take cinnamon.

cinnamonResearchers at the Western University of Health Sciences in California looked at data collected from 10 randomized controlled trials involving 543 patients with type 2 diabetes. These compared people who took cinnamon in a pill form in doses ranging from 120 milligrams to six grams a day, for a period of four to 18 weeks with people who did not take cinnamon.

But scientists still don’t fully understand how the popular spice is helping blood sugar levels although they think an organic compound called ‘cinnamaldehyde’ stimulates the release and effect of insulin.

Lead researcher Olivia Phung said more research is needed as they don’t know the exact dose of cinnamon that may be helpful for people with type 2 diabetes, or the length of time or frequency the supplement should be taken.

Also it is still unclear which patients may benefit the most from taking cinnamon, or exactly how cinnamon might fit best into diabetes treatment options.

The researchers also want to determine whether there is a true cause and effect relationship between cinnamon intake and improved diabetes control, or if the results found in this review study were just an association seen when the findings from a bunch of smaller studies were combined.

The researchers said that diabetics should not rush to start taking cinnamon supplements and should consult their doctor before doing so as too much cinnamon can have adverse health effects for those suffering from liver problems, for example.

‘It is necessary to conduct trials in a long term extension of cinnamon supplementation to better understand and investigate safety and tolerability of various oral formulations. Cinnamon may have a beneficial effect on fasting plasma glucose,’ the study says.

‘Caution should be exercised in applying the results of this analysis to patient care because of the certainty of the dose and duration of cinnamon use and uncertainty of the ideal patient population,’ it concludes.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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