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Clinician’s Corner: Cinnamon

Instead of all those pills, can I take a natural product for my Type-2 diabetes?

Cinnamon fits into both the food and medicinal herb categories.  We have our “Cinnamon Toast Crunch” (my kids favorite) cereal for breakfast, and we sell cinnamon in our herbal section to improve glycemic control for our diabetics.  Because of the lack of standardization in the United States, and the very conflicting data, I am hesitant to recommend this herbal product.  Cinnamon contains coumarins, which in high doses can lead to liver toxicity, when doses exceed 7grams. Here is some background information:

From Cinnamomum aromaticum, a small evergreen tree native to Southern India and Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Madagascar.  Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum verum) is the most common type used in the Western world, as a cooking spice. The bark is most commonly used and occasionally, leaves and buds.

Use: Treatment of Type-2 Diabetes. Cassia cinnamon (“Chinese cinnamon”) is believed to be most effective. This type of cinnamon is commonly found in herbal products in pharmacies and health food stores.  It might have some benefit when added to diabetes drugs that push out insulin from the pancreas like glipizide, glyburide and glimepiride.

National Institutes of Health: “High-quality clinical evidence (i.e., studies in people) to support the use of cinnamon for any medical condition is generally lacking”

University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy: Diabetes Care. 2008;31(1):41.

  • RESULTS: five studies were analyzed, and the use of cinnamon did not significantly alter A1C, Fasting Blood Glucose, or cholesterol.
  • CONCLUSIONS: Cinnamon does not appear to improve A1C, Fasting Blood Glucose, or cholesterol in patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

CAUTION: Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin, consuming large amounts my lead to liver toxicity.
DRUG/FOOD INTERACTIONS: Cinnamon may reduce the effectiveness of tetracycline antibiotics.
PREGNANCY:  Use of cinnamon in amounts greatly exceeding those found in foods is not recommended during pregnancy

Your Thompson Pharmacist is a great resource for these natural products.  We wish we could find a “magic pill” for treatment of Type-2 diabetes which affects 10% of our nation.  For now, diet and exercise are the best ways to treat this disease.  If you want to use cinnamon, it is best sprinkled on a healthy apple for a snack!  Go ahead and ask… at Thompson Pharmacy it’s all for YOU!