Cinnamon Found to Reduce Blood Sugar Levels in Obesity and Prediabetes Patients

Photo by Ngô Trọng An: Pexels

Cinnamon, a common household spice used for generations to flavor foods and drinks, when taken in a daily measured dose, may also aid in blood glucose control.

Researchers have discovered that including cinnamon in one’s daily diet can contribute to better blood glucose control, particularly in people with obesity and prediabetes. Because cinnamon is both widely available and affordable, it is an easy supplement to include in one’s daily routine.

The study, conducted at the University of California-Los Angeles and published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that the administration of daily cinnamon resulted in improved glucose levels in adults with prediabetes who were also overweight or obese.

Study Findings Explained

The study, which was conducted over a 10-week period, included 18 participants who had both an overweight or obese body mass index (BMI) and a medical diagnosis of prediabetes. The researchers specifically sought to discover the effect of daily cinnamon spice supplementation on blood glucose concentrations in adults with prediabetes and obesity.

During the first two weeks, participants ate a “beige diet.” This diet included foods typically beige in color, rich in simple carbohydrates, and void of cinnamon.

For the following eight weeks, participants were divided into a treatment group and a placebo group. They were given identical-looking capsules to take daily, with the treatment group receiving a total of 4 grams of cinnamon daily and the placebo group receiving 4 grams of maltodextrin. The study participants were also instructed to continue their beige diet during this time.

Researchers monitored the participants’ blood sugar levels every 15 minutes through a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device for the duration of the study. The CGM results showed that participants who had taken the cinnamon capsules had consistently lower blood glucose levels, as well as lower glucose peaks, compared to the placebo group.

“The study findings suggest that cinnamon supplementation may help improve glucose control in individuals with obesity-related prediabetes. While promising, further research is needed to confirm these results and understand the long-term effects and potential adverse effects of cinnamon supplementation,” Michelle Routhenstein, a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator, told The Epoch Times in an email.

The Beneficial Properties of Cinnamon

Cinnamon—which is made from the bark of a variety of cinnamon trees—has been used throughout history as a spice and flavoring agent for food, but it has also played an important role in traditional and naturopathic medicine. Cinnamon supplementation is generally considered safe with minimal toxic or adverse effects.

Studies suggest that cinnamon spice may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, and anticancer properties. It may also protect against heart disease, high cholesterol, and neurological damage, as well as lower blood pressure and boost immunity. Finally, cinnamon can affect the gut biome, encouraging the growth of helpful bacteria while simultaneously inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria.

How Does Cinnamon Help With Blood Glucose Control?

While the complete mechanism behind cinnamon’s effect on blood sugar levels is not fully understood, research has confirmed a notable link between cinnamon intake and blood sugar control. For example, cinnamon contains polyphenols, which are known to balance glucose levels.

“Polyphenols are known to enhance insulin sensitivity by activating the insulin receptor through mechanisms like activation of glucose transporter-4 receptors, allowing glucose to be more easily brought into the cell. Additionally, they possess anti-inflammatory properties, which can be advantageous in both diabetes and heart disease management,” explains Ms. Routhenstein.

Studies also suggest that cinnamon helps lower blood glucose by imitating the effects of insulin within the body and improving the movement of sugar from the bloodstream into cells. Cinnamon also has the potential to increase insulin sensitivity and improve insulin resistance, which are key components for diabetes management.

Study Limitations and Opportunities for Future Research

Two notable limitations of this study are the small sample size of only eighteen participants and the use of maltodextrin as a placebo.

Maltodextrin is often used as an oral placebo during human research trials. However, maltodextrin is a starchy carbohydrate and it transforms into glucose when broken down by the body. This can cause a blood sugar spike, which can be particularly problematic for diabetic patients. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect future research to utilize a different oral placebo with a lower glycemic influence to ensure the results are not skewed.

“The placebo group received capsules containing 250mg of maltodextrin, a substance with a high glycemic index known to cause quick increases in blood sugar levels. This could potentially affect the study outcomes and make it more challenging to compare results accurately between the two groups,” confirms Ms. Routhenstein.

Yelena Wheeler, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, told The Epoch Times that she is not overly concerned about the use of maltodextrin in the study.

“Consumption of daily maltodextrin, in a way, emulates regular consumption within a typical American diet, which is often layered with multiple sugar sources. Therefore, I do not believe that giving the placebo group maltodextrin would have an effect, since they were already fed a fairly low fiber diet which leads to high glucose levels anyway,” Ms. Wheeler explains.

Ms. Wheeler goes on to say that she is more concerned about the diet that was implemented during this study, noting: “The issue I have is that the participants were first on a low fiber ‘beige’ diet which consisted of mostly simple carbohydrates for two weeks. This type of diet can cause anyone to have spikes in blood sugar, but particularly the population that they were studying which mostly consisted of those with higher BMI and blood sugar management issues.”

Still, the study contains valid confirmation regarding the positive effects of cinnamon supplementation in the body for diabetic patients. “I agree with the premise that cinnamon has many properties that benefit glucose management, inflammation reduction, and cardiovascular health,” comments Ms. Wheeler.

Overall, the impact of cinnamon intake on diabetes is still somewhat ambiguous and requires further research. Studies with a larger sample size of participants and ones that use a placebo that is less likely to affect blood glucose levels are realistic expectations for future studies. Still, research does appear to be more and more promising regarding cinnamon’s long-term impact on blood glucose control.

Important Notice: This article was also published at by Ayla Roberts where all credits are due.


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