Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Find out which health claims about cinnamon are true and which ones have yet to be proven by scientific research.

A much-loved spice for baking and for savory dishes- curries, Greek cuisine, and Mexican moles- cinnamon is considered potent medicine in natural medicine circles. Both varieties, spicy-sweet Cassia cinnamon and less sweet Ceylon cinnamon, show scientific promise as potential adjunct therapies to some conventional treatments.

Blood Sugar Lowering Agent.  Yes.

Numerous small studies confirm that cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels in some people with type 2 diabetes. The key words here: some people. Experts at the Harvard Health Letter speculate that compounds in the spice may help glucose get into cells and out of the blood. Yet, more research is in order, this time with much larger population samples, before docs can suggest an appropriate treatment dose.

Blood Cholesterol Lowering Agent: No

Experts at the Mayo Clinic don’t recommend cinnamon to treat high cholesterol levels for one simple reason: lack of evidence that it works. Their advice for people looking to lower blood cholesterol is to go with proven lifestyle cholesterol-lowering strategies: losing excess weight, quitting smoking, exercise, heart-healthy eating.

Infertility. Maybe.

Preliminary findings earlier this year suggest cinnamon supplements (1500 milligrams per day) might help improve irregular menstrual cycles in women with a common infertility disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome. Researchers want to do larger clinical trials with more women to confirm the findings but say supplements are safe and relatively cheap to try.

GI Problems. No.

Anecdotal reports suggest that cinnamon can help with bloating, intestinal gas, diarrhea and vomiting. But the government’s Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, which reviews the scientific findings for natural remedies, says there is insufficient evidence. Nor is there evidence cinnamon helps combat impotence, kidney problems, cancer, bed wetting or the common cold. 

 

 

Maureen Callahan, MS, RD

January 2014