Research on the health benefits of cinnamon has shown potential for treating diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and even HIV.  

Cinnamon is one of the world’s most popular spices, enjoyed in numerous dishes.

Little do we know about this wonder herb.

Harvested from the inner bark of a tropical evergreen plant, cinnamon has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat respiratory and digestive problems for centuries. Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon as a perfume during the embalming process. Romans used it in funeral pyres to mask the stench of burning flesh.

Of the various types of cinnamon, the more expensive one is the Ceylon version, with a milder, sweeter flavor, that might be the best for your health.

Cassia, the other type, can contain relatively high concentrations of coumarin, a plant compound that can damage the liver. A study of 91 cinnamon samples from various stores in Germany found 63 times more coumarin in cassia cinnamon powder than Ceylon powder. Cassia sticks, which look like a thick layer of rolled bark, also contained 18 times more coumarin than Ceylon sticks, which have thin layers.
Diabetes and Blood sugar

A study of 18 people with type 2 diabetes showed the cassia species of cinnamon was more effective than diet alone in lowering blood glucose levels. In fact, the study found that it was comparable to oral diabetes medications.

Another study of 60 people with type 2 diabetes found that small doses of cinnamon reduced blood sugar levels and improved LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, triglycerides and total cholesterol.

“I like the fact that the amount that showed benefits for blood sugar and cholesterol in that study was 1 to 6 grams, which is the range of half-teaspoon to three teaspoons, or one tablespoon, so it’s easy to sprinkle on cereal or in yogurt or use in recipes,” said registered dietitian Lisa Drayer, who writes about nutrition for CNN. The Food and Drug Administration’s recommended limit is 6 grams a day.

But while the future looks promising, the American Diabetes Association urges caution.

“The ADA believes there’s not enough evidence,” Maryniuk said. “A 2013 meta-analysis, which is one of the most rigorous of reviews, found that cinnamon had no impact on hemoglobin A1c levels, which is what we look at to measure how well blood sugar is being controlled over time. If that had gone down, I’d be more impressed.”


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Maryniuk suggests that people with type 2 diabetes do a self-test.
“Do some paired blood glucose testing,” she said. “Use half a teaspoon in the morning, on fruit or oatmeal or in coffee, and see what happens to your blood sugar levels before and after you eat. Check again two to three hours later and see if there’s a difference.
“But keep taking your medicine,” she warned. “You don’t want to try something to the exclusion of the medicine you’re taking.”

“We still need a bit more work before we roll this out,” Wright agreed. “And you must be careful to work with your doctor when using cinnamon with diabetes medications, as it might drop your blood sugars too low.”