Cinnamon and Diabetes

Author: Filippo Di Vita
Date: 26/09/2014



Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods. There are two main varieties of cinnamon: Cinnamomum cassia and Cinnamomum zeylanicum

The active ingredient in both varieties is cinnamaldehyde the organic compound that gives cinnamon its flavor and odor.

Cinnamon has been used as a spice and as traditional herbal medicine for centuries. The available in vitro and animal in vivo evidence suggests that cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antitumor, cardiovascular, cholesterol-lowering, and immunomodulatory effects. In vitro studies have demonstrated that cinnamon may act as an insulin mimetic, to potentiate insulin activity or to stimulate cellular glucose metabolism. Furthermore, animal studies have demonstrated strong hypoglycemic properties.
The use of cinnamon as an adjunct to the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus is the most promising area, but further research is needed before definitive recommendations can be made.

Diabetes , often referred to by doctors as diabetes mellitus, describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), it is due to either the pancreas not producing enough insulin, or the cells of the body not responding properly to the insulin produced. Patients with high blood sugar will typically experience polyuria (frequent urination), they will become increasingly thirsty (polydipsia) and hungry (polyphagia).

There are three main types of diabetes mellitus:

  • Type 1 DM results from the body's failure to produce enough insulin. This form was previously referred to as "insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus" (IDDM) or "juvenile diabetes". The cause is unknown.
  • Type 2 DM begins with insulin resistance , a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly. As the disease progresses a lack of insulin may also develop. This form was previously referred to as "non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus" (NIDDM) or "adult-onset diabetes". The primary cause is excessive body weight and not enough exercise.

  • Gestational diabetes, is the third main form and occurs when pregnant women without a previous history of diabetes develop a high blood glucose level.

Conventional therapies for type II diabetes mellitus are frequently associated with severe adverse drug reactions and high costs of treatment. Herbal medications have long been used in the treatment and prevention of the pathology in traditional medicine all over the world. So cinnamon is considered a promising agent for diabetes and its complications.

Human Studies

2001 Study

In this study researchers investigated the effects of cinnamon's most active component: Methylhydroxy chalcone polymer.

They found that:

  • MHCP treatment stimulated glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis to a similar level as insulin. Glycogen synthesis was inhibited by both wortmannin and LY294002, inhibitors directed against the PI-3-kinase
  • MHCP treatment activated glycogen synthase and inhibited glycogen synthase kinase-3beta activities, known effects of insulin treatment. Analysis of the insulin receptor demonstrated that the receptor was phosphorylated upon exposure to the MHCP.
  • MHCP might trigger the insulin cascade. Along with comparing MHCP to insulin, experiments were done with MHCP and insulin combined. The responses observed using the dual treatment were greater than additive, indicating synergism between the two compounds.

This support the idea that MHCP increases glucose metabolism in regard to glucose uptake, glucose transport across cells, and glycogen synthesis.

A hydroxychalcone derived from cinnamon functions as a mimetic for insulin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.
hydroxychalcone mitochondria uncoupling effect like licorice
hydroxychalcone+mitochondria Quetzal different

Hydroxychalcones induce apoptosis in B16-F10 melanoma cells via GSH and ATP depletion. 2008

Two of them induced mitochondrial GSH and ATP depletion and promoted cell death through apoptosis in melanoma cel

2003 Study

This study examined whether cinnamon could improve blood glucose, triglyceride, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

A total of 60 subjects (30 men and 30 women) were used, all of who had type 2 diabetes. Subjects were randomly assigned into 6 groups. Groups 1, 2, and 3 consumed 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon daily, respectively. Groups 4, 5,and 6 were given placebo capsules corresponding to the number of capsules consumed for the three levels of cinnamon. Cinnamon supplementation lasted for 40 days and was then followed by a wash-out period.

Researchers found that:

  • All three levels of cinnamon supplementation were effective: After 40 days, all three levels of cinnamon reduced the mean fasting serum glucose (18-29%), triglyceride (23-30%),LDL cholesterol (7- 27%), and total cholesterol (12-26%) levels.
  • No significant changes were noted in the placebo groups.
  • Changes in HDL cholesterol were not significant.

The results of the study demonstrate that intake of 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon per day reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes and suggest that the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes

2012 Study

In this study eighteen type II diabetics (9 women and 9 men) participated in a 12-week trial that consisted of 2 parts, a 3-week control phase followed by a 9-week experimental phase where half of the subjects received 1000 mg of Cinnamomum cassia while the other half received 1000 mg of a placebo pill.

The researchers found that all of the subjects that were in the cinnamon group had a statistically significant decrease in their blood sugar levels. The subjects in the cinnamon group had an average overall decrease in their blood sugar levels of about 30 mg/dL, which is comparable to oral medications available for diabetes.

The Effects of Cinnamomum Cassia on Blood Glucose Values are Greater than those of Dietary Changes Alone


The development of type 2 diabetes mellitus is strongly influenced by eating practices. Also once diagnosed, a critical part of treatment is the modification of a lifetime of food and eating habits. Functional herbal foods, like Cinnamon Cassia, might have a particularly high impact for prevention or treatment of overweight and diabetes for which, more than in many other fields.
It is hoped that the information provided in the previous works will help the conventional medicine for the development of an alternative methods rather than insulin and oral hypoglycemic agents for the treatment of diabetes mellitus, which will minimize the complication associated with the diabetes and related disorder.

Cinnamon and glucocorticoids

Effect of a high-fat--high-fructose diet, stress and cinnamon on central expression of genes related to immune system, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis function and cerebral plasticity in rats. 2014

  • The intake of a high-fat/high-fructose (HF/HFr) diet is described to be deleterious to cognitive performances, possibly via the induction of inflammatory factors. An excess of glucocorticoids is also known to exert negative effects on cerebral plasticity. In the present study, we assessed the effects of an unbalanced diet on circulating and central markers of inflammation and glucocorticoid activity, as well as their reversal by dietary cinnamon (CN) supplementation. A group of male Wistar rats were subjected to an immune challenge with acute lipopolysaccharide under a HF/HFr or a standard diet. Another group of Wistar rats were fed either a HF/HFr or a control diet for 12 weeks, with or without CN supplementation, and with or without restraint stress (Str) application before being killed. We evaluated the effects of such regimens on inflammation parameters in the periphery and brain and on the expression of actors of brain plasticity. To assess hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis activity, we measured the plasma concentrations of corticosterone and the expression of central corticotrophin-releasing hormone, mineralocorticoid receptor, glucocorticoid receptor and 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase. We found that the HF/HFr diet induced the expression of cytokines in the brain, but only after an immune challenge. Furthermore, we observed the negative effects of Str on the plasma concentrations of corticosterone and neuroplasticity markers in rats fed the control diet but not in those fed the HF/HFr diet. Additionally, we found that *CN supplementation exerted beneficial effects under the control diet, *but that its effects were blunted or even reversed under the HF/HFr diet. CN supplementation could be beneficial under a standard diet.
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