Can taking cinnamon help control blood glucose levels?
Q: "I have been a type 2 diabetic since 1997. I was able to keep my glucose readings at lower levels with a controlled diet but over the years, I have had medications prescribed. At present I take Metformin, Gliclazide, Accupril, Lipex and enteric coated Aspirin Ph Eur. I am followed by my diabetes nurse and advised by my doctor on a three-monthly basis. I attend the Diabetes Support Group and exercise regularly. It was at the support group that someone suggested I take cinnamon tablets, or make a drink with it, to help keep my blood glucose nearer the normal range. Can you give me any information on cinnamon and any side effects? Also, will it interfere with any of my medications?"
A: We asked UK-trained dietitian Claire Turnbull, from Mission Nutrition, to respond:
"Living with type 2 diabetes often means searching for answers about how you can get the best control of your blood glucose (sugar) levels. Type 2 diabetes is progressive and over time, regardless how good you are with your diet and activity, you may end up needing more support to control the amount of sugar in your blood. This often means including medications and for some, insulin.
Insulin is the hormone that controls the amount of sugar in your blood. With type 2 diabetes, either your body doesn't make enough insulin or your body doesn't respond to the insulin you make. This is known as insulin resistance.
The prescription medications you are taking for diabetes including Metformin and Gliclazide have been tested, trialled and researched over and over again to ensure they are safe and effective. Together they help make more insulin and allow your body to be more sensitive to insulin. Overall this means that, alongside a healthy diet and lots of physical activity, you are more likely to be able to achieve good blood glucose control.
It has been suggested that cinnamon can also help make your body more sensitive to insulin. This 'non-medical' solution sounds very appealing, however despite all the tests, trials and research, cinnamon has not been shown to work consistently. As well as this, the side effects or potential interactions with other medications are not entirely known.
So it's best to follow the advice of your diabetes team, eat a healthy, balanced diet, keep up your physical activity and attend regular check ups, as you have been doing."