Millions of American adults have prediabetes. The CDC defines this as having fasting blood sugar over 100 but less than 126 mg/dL, the cut-off for a diagnosis of diabetes. Learning that you have prediabetes can be alarming, but it offers an opportunity to make changes that will reverse the condition and prevent full-blown diabetes. Regular physical activity and a high-nutrient, low-energy diet are central to this effort. Spices and condiments may also contribute to blood sugar control, so you may want to learn about the pros and cons of cinnamon. Many readers like to use it to lower their blood sugar.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Cinnamon?
Q. My blood sugar was 101. I did some reading on the internet and found out that I might be able to reduce it by taking cinnamon.
Every morning, I put less than a teaspoon in my coffee. After a month my blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides all went into the normal range. My blood sugar is now 81.
Pros of Cinnamon:
A. Cinnamon can help lower blood sugar, according to a recent meta-analysis (Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, online Aug. 16, 2019). Scientists studying rats demonstrated that a water-based extract of cinnamon paired with high-intensity exercise can reverse metabolic syndrome (Nutrition, Sep. 2019). In addition, this spice has intriguing anti-cancer activity (European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Sep. 15, 2019).
Cons of Cinnamon:
There could be negative effects from regular cinnamon consumption, however. Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin, which can damage the liver. The amounts of this compound are variable, and Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylonicum) does not have any coumarin.
Coumarin is not water-soluble, however. Consequently, if you put ground cinnamon in your disposable coffee filter rather than directly in your coffee, you get the benefits from cinnamon without the danger of coumarin. Don’t try this in a reusable filter; ground cinnamon can create a gummy mess.
A recent case report warns of the dangers of cinnamon interacting with oral anticoagulants (European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine, online July 19, 2019). An 80-year-old man who had been taking dabigatran (Pradaxa) for atrial fibrillation started taking a solution of cinnamon and ginger. Three days later he was vomiting blood and his stool was black with blood. The doctors were unable to control his intestinal bleeding and he died. There may be other factors that contributed to this tragedy. However, to be prudent, people taking anticoagulant medicines should not use cinnamon as medicine.
You can learn more about using cinnamon and other natural flavoring compounds in our book, Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs and Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life.