Do Cinnamon Supplements Have a Role in Glycemic Control in Type 2 Diabetes? A Narrative Review

Published:September 08, 2016DOI:


      Cinnamon (Cinnamomum sp) has been suggested to help patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) achieve better glycemic control, although conclusions from meta-analyses are mixed. To evaluate whether the use of cinnamon dietary supplements by adults with T2DM had clinically meaningful effects on glycemic control, as measured by changes in fasting plasma glucose (FPG) or hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a comprehensive PubMed literature search was performed. Eleven randomized controlled trials were identified that met our inclusion criteria that enrolled 694 adults with T2DM receiving hypoglycemic medications or not. In 10 of the studies, participants continued to take their hypoglycemic medications during the cinnamon intervention period. Studies ranged from 4 to 16 weeks in duration; seven studies were double-blind. Cinnamon doses ranged from 120 to 6,000 mg/day. The species of cinnamon used varied: seven used Cinnamomum cassia or Cinnamomum aromaticum, one used Cinnamomum zeylanicum, and three did not disclose the species. Because of the heterogeneity of the studies, a meta-analysis was not conducted. All 11 of the studies reported some reductions in FPG during the cinnamon intervention, and of the studies measuring HbA1c very modest decreases were also apparent with cinnamon, whereas changes in the placebo groups were minimal. However, only four studies achieved the American Diabetes Association treatment goals (FPG <7.2 mmol/L [130 mg/dL] and/or HbAlc <7.0). We conclude that cinnamon supplements added to standard hypoglycemic medications and other lifestyle therapies had modest effects on FPG and HbA1c. Until larger and more rigorous studies are available, registered dietitian nutritionists and other health care professionals should recommend that patients continue to follow existing recommendations of authoritative bodies for diet, lifestyle changes, and hypoglycemic drugs.


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      R. B. Costello is a scientific consultant, Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.


      L. Saldanha is a scientific consultant, Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.


      J. Merkel is a communications consultant, Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.


      E. Wambogo is a program analyst, Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.


      J. T. Dwyer is senior nutrition scientist, Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD; professor of nutrition, School of Medicine and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA; and a senior scientist, Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, MA.


      R. L. Bailey is a scientific consultant, Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD; and an associate professor, Department of Nutrition Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.