It’s fine to sprinkle cinnamon on your oatmeal or use it in baking. Go ahead and enjoy it if you like its taste. But if you hope that it will help you manage your diabetes, you might want to pause before you head to your spice rack.
It's not yet clear if cinnamon is good for diabetes. Research findings have been mixed, and the American Diabetes Association dismisses cinnamon’s use in diabetes treatment.
If you have diabetes, chances are good that you already have some form of nerve pain or nerve damage, called diabetic neuropathy. "People with diabetes have about a 60% chance of getting neuropathy of any kind," says Dace L. Trence, MD, an endocrinologist and director of the Diabetes Care Center at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. "It's probably an equal risk of getting neuropathy with type 1 and type 2 diabetes."
You may have tingling, pain, or numbness in your feet and hands...
Several small studies have linked cinnamon to better blood sugar levels. Some of this work shows it may curb blood sugar by lowering insulin resistance.
In one study, volunteers ate from 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon for 40 days. (One gram of ground cinnamon is about half a teaspoon.) The researchers found that cinnamon cut cholesterol by about 18% and blood sugar levels by 24%. But in other studies, the spice did not lower blood sugar or cholesterol levels.
Is Cinnamon Safe for People With Diabetes?
Unless you have liver damage, it should be OK for you to enjoy it in food. If you do have liver problems, be careful, because large amounts of cinnamon may make them worse.
If you are considering cinnamon supplements, talk with your doctor first, especially if you take any medication. Also, look for brands labeled with a quality seal. These include the NSF International, US Pharmacopeia, or Consumerlab seal. This helps assure that the supplement actually has the ingredients stated on the label and doesn't have any contaminants or potentially harmful ingredients.
Unlike medications, supplement makers don't have to prove their products are safe or effective. But the FDA can order a supplement off the market if it proves it's unsafe.
Does Cinnamon Interact With Other Herbs or Drugs?
Use caution if you also take other supplements that lower blood sugar levels, including:
The same holds true with diabetes medications. If you and your doctor decide it's OK for you to try cinnamon, pay close attention to your blood sugar levels. Tell your doctor if your levels fall too low.
Taking cinnamon with drugs that affect the liver may make liver problems more likely.