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Cinnamon and diabetes.

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Did you know that they didn't use cinnamon in the cinnamon and diabetes study?

You know the study I mean:
Khan A, Safdar M, Ali Khan MM, Khattak KN, Anderson RA: Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2003 Dec;26(12):3215-8.
And here's the full text.

That's cinnamon in the headline. The abstract says:

"OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to determine whether cinnamon improves blood glucose, triglyceride, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: A total of 60 people with type 2 diabetes, 30 men and 30 women aged 52.2 +/- 6.32 years, were divided randomly into six groups. Groups 1, 2, and 3 consumed 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon daily, respectively, and groups 4, 5, and 6 were given placebo capsules corresponding to the number of capsules consumed for the three levels of cinnamon. The cinnamon was consumed for 40 days followed by a 20-day washout period.
RESULTS: 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.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this 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."

Nowhere do they state that they didn't actually use cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) in this trial: no, they used cassia (Cinnamomum aromaticum, synonym Cinnamomum cassia).

There's a difference: true cinnamon is fairly hard to get hold of, at least up here in Finland. We get cassia as "cinnamon" in most if not all grocery stores. Specialist stores carry true cinnamon, but you have to know to ask for it ...

True cinnamon has layer upon layer of paper thin bark, which makes up the cinnamon sticks, where cassia is a single thickish piece of bark. I've compared the two in an earlier blogpost.

It just goes to show, never trust an abstract.


good catch Hetta:)

What difference does it make whether it was true cin or not? I think what is important is knowing which one was used in the study. That's the one I want to use.


Yes. Now look at all the headlines and all the glossy and newspaper articles about this particular study.
They all talk about true cinnamon. None of them say that cassia cinnamon was the herb used in the study ... because none of the reporters ever read beyond the abstracts, and the abstract doesn't mention that.

Just want to say thanks you Henriette for including this information on your site. The fact that you included the actual study in total is really a bonus. I had been looking for the health facts reagarding cinniamon and thought I was going to have to import True cinnamon. Thanks to finding your posts, I will not be wasting my money on True Cinnamon and can stick to the common type which I can get readily.

Any chance that you would know about the other health benefits of cinnamon such as anti bacterial and anti fungal activities? I am, again, interested to know if the common is as affective (or more affective), as True cinnamon.

With much appreciation, Jay

It's a spice with aromatic oils. It'll help your digestion. Antibacterial, antifungal? Dunno, it's exotic, I use it as a spice.

has anyone else used the cinnimon and had a reduction in glucose levels/

Just want to make sure. The Cassia is the typical cinnimon you can get at any store? Probobly have to go organic to get the good stuff. Also is there any advice on Citrimax that is used in the Sobe Lean Drinks? Guess I wlll grow a third arm or something in a few years.

On the cassia vs. cinnamon: in Finland the stores all carry cassia as cinnamon.
On the citrimax and whatever lean drinks: I have no clue what either are. I do herbs, not lean drinks, not products.

It seems the detailed studies DID state it was Cassia. That is also cheaper, and the more usual everywhere, even here in the US. I actually got a reply from tthe researcher telling me it would be beneficial for hypoglycemia, too, and that the type of cinnamon wasn't so important.

The chemical needed is MHCP, according to:

"Data from the Agricultural Research Unit in Maryland was first published in the New Scientist in August 2000. The researchers found that cinnamon rekindled the ability of fat cells in diabetics to respond to insulin and greatly increased glucose removal. It is believed that a substance in cinnamon called MHCP is the main reason for its beneficial results.

When mice were given MHCP, their glucose levels fell dramatically and tests on humans have begun this year. The researchers are so confident that cinnamon will have the same dramatic effect of reducing insulin tolerance in humans they recommend that type II diabetics should take a quarter to one full teaspoon of cinnamon per day."

Now, the various results in subsequent studies seem to be more effective with length of time, and amount per day. The half-teaspoon was 1 gram, and 3 or 6 grams seem to give more ppositive results, or sooner results for the studies. So, what, I guess I'll try 2 teaspoons per day? It's good in coffee, and I can do it with most anything, since I like the taste.

Yes, they said that it's cassia in the full study. Nobody reads full studies (or at least, no journalists do), and, as is usual with newspaper and journal reports about this research, all the articles were derived from the summary, and the summary alone. The summary says "cinnamon", which is not the same as cassia cinnamon.

Precise language is a must, in the various plant sciences: common names are different on different continents, in different countries, in different counties, in different villages ...

Thanks for the additional data!

Lest everyone be misinformed please read:

Cinnamon is the bark of three bushy evergreen trees of the laurel (Lauraceae) family. The most fragrant and delicate cinnamon is obtained from the Cinnamomum zeylanicum tree native to Sri Lanka. The zeylanicum bush is now also cultivated in Seychelles and Madagascar, islands off the east coast of Africa, and also South America and the West Indies. Zeylanicum cinnamon is sometimes called "true cinnamon" and "old fashioned cinnamon." That is because it was the cinnamon the Dutch East India Company traded several centuries ago.

Cinnamon is also derived from the Cinnamonum loureirii tree native to Indonesia and the Cinnamonum cassia tree native to China, Vietnam, and Sumatra. The cinnamon from the loureirii and cassia trees is darker and more pungent and aromatic than cinnamon from the zeylanicum tree.

The English and Mexicans prefer the milder, delicate zeylancium cinnamon. However, cassia cinnamon is what most people are used to and is the preferred cinnamon in Europe. So do not let the term "true cinnamon" confuse you; cassia cinnamon is just as true as zeylancium.

Three Cinnamons
-Zeylanicum cinnamon also known as Ceylon cinnamon
-Loureirii cinnamon also known as Indonesian cinnamon
-Cassia cinnamon also known as Chinese, Saigon, and Korintje cinnamon

The flavor of cinnamon is in the oil. The primary chemical in the oil is cinnamic aldehyde, which is the same in zeylanicum, loureirii, and cassia cinnamons. However, the three main cassia cinnamons - China, Saigon, and Korintje - do vary in flavor.

Thanks for that, Kent!

You're welcome Henrietta! Great site.Thanks so much. I just found out I have Type 2. I'm 42, not obese but could lose some weight. Hope the cinammon will help. There's also been word of an engineered form of lettuce curing diabetes in mice. Very interesting,

The lettuce: that's adding insulin, in type I diabetes. It won't help in type II, where too much insulin is the problem. Try magnesium, chromium, zinc, and read the syndrome x posts.

I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for the past month and have not been given any medication for it yet. I was trying to control my blood sugar levels with diet and excersise first. After a month of monitoring, I was unable to get my blood sugar under control. However, when I took 2000 mgs of cinnamon a day,(cinnamomum cassia), my blood sugar readings were 40 points lower and have been very close to normal for the past week. I am astonished. I don't need any study to tell me what I am experiencing. I hope this continues to work....

There is a lot of interest in true Cinnamon in the USA ever since Germany Banned the import of Cassia Supplements (also called Chinese / Saigon Cinnamon) due to the high Coumarin content.

I have been searching for information and have found a site which explains how to visually identify the difference between Cinnamon and Cassia.


We-eell. Coumarin in itself is no problem whatsoever, so if the Germans have indeed banned Cassia cinnamon (which I doubt), based on that, they're extremely silly.
No, it's plants that ferment on drying (= abysmal quality) which form the bleeding dicoumarols.

As to the site you linked to: I'd try to get world+dog to believe that cassia cinnamon is harsh and flat, too, if I were selling Ceylon cinnamon. Anybody else will tell you that both taste of cinnamon, and the cassia is hotter while the ceylon is sweeter.

As I understand it, cassia is not banned in Germany due to the high coumarin level it contains but the usage is regulated (2 mg per kg foodstuff). The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment issued a FAQ document which clearly states that coumarin can cause liver damage in susceptible individuals. This seems to be a common statement and I would say of concern when people self-medicate by swallowing uncalibrated amounts of 'cinnamon' powder.
Therefore it is interesting that you brush this concern aside by stating coumarin itself harmless, but (as I understand) something called dicoumarin forms by fermentation which is harmful. Could you provide more detail & clarity please. After all it would be impossible to ascertain if a powdered batch of cassia cinnamon had fermented.
Thank you

The problem of coumarins fermenting is documented in leafy herbs like melilot and the like. Seeing that cinnamon is a bark, it's a) cumbersome to strip, and b) fetches a fair price.

Honest, I can't see any cinnamon farmer worth his salt letting his crop go to waste by fermenting.

i am a nursing student doing research on herbal medicine vs. pharmecutical medicine and have found your website to be fabulous and i think i learned more in two hours going through your website than i have learned with all the studying i have done.i would like to know where to get more info on chemical and physiological actions any herbs have on particular disorders and diseases.i had heard about the cinnimon trial before but can you grow them here in the u.s. why doesn't anyone just grow there own if they can. and i intend to illustrate the importance of preparing your own herbal medicines in my paper because i think it is one of the most important considerations to take when using herbal medicine. right? anyway thanks for all the info and this great site. oh p.s. LOVE your forthrightness and your rhetoric when dealing with idiots who try to pull fast ones i only wish i was that astute all the time :)

Cinnamons are tropical. You'll find lots of different cinnamons planted all over the tropics.
Making your own herbal preparations sure weeds out all the overly expensive exotics ... and you get to know what you have in your own back yard. Not everybody can do that, though. So find a good supplier ... the pharmacomed solution of standardizing on random single constituents is WAY off. COMPLETELY off. Doesn't even sit on the same planet as good herbal medicine.

As to "chemical and physiological actions" ... I do wholistic medicine, sorry.

I have been trying Cinnamon Extract by Superior Source from my health food store and that is taken by mouth and dissolves under the tongue. It has lowered my blood sugar numbers from 200 down to normal and has kept them down ever since I began using this supplement nearly two months ago. I also use cinnamon bark extract liquid by Gaia Herbs and use 5 drops in my tea. It tastes good and also helps keep my sugar levels low. Another supplement I have been using is DHEA by KAL which I read was good for lowering blood sugar and also good for anti aging and Alshimers (spelling?) disease. All these products are from my local health food store and they keep a ready supply.

I just reasd what you said about cinammon and most of the ones I read does not tell you how much cinammon to use daily


They're, however, not from your local forest ... have you tried to ditch the carbs?
You might wish to read the syndrome x series of posts, too.