Can cinnamon help control blood sugar?

“Cinnamon has…been indicated as a potential insulin substitute for those with Type 2 diabetes,” says

That   kind of wisdom you could do without.

In 2012, the Cochrane Collaboration—a respected international network of scientists—pooled the results from the six best studies looking at whether cinnamon supplements could lower fasting blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The pills were no better than a placebo.1

Ditto for the six best studies that pitted cinnamon against a placebo in lowering hemoglobin A1c in people with type 2 diabetes.1 (A1c is a long-term measure of blood sugar levels. It’s the gold standard.)

Last year, scientists at the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health reviewed nine cinnamon trials conducted through 2015. Cinnamon lowered A1c more than a placebo, but the studies—typically done in Pakistan, Iran, and India—were small and poor quality. (For example, most didn’t document that the participants took the cinnamon.) What’s more, the drop in A1c was small.2

“This suggests that cinnamon does not cause a reliable and clinically significant drop in A1c in patients with type 2 diabetes,” says co-author Rebecca Costello.

Want to try cinnamon anyway?

Good luck buying a high-quality supplement. In 2015, found that the amount of cinnamon’s presumed active ingredient varied by more than a hundredfold among the products it looked at. And there was no way to tell from the labels how much of the active ingredient each contained.


1 Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 12: CD007170, 2012.
2 J. Acad. Nutr. Diet. 116: 1794, 2016.

Photos: © Rawf8/

The information in this post first appeared in Nutrition Action Healthletter in June 2017. 

Find this article interesting and useful? 
Nutrition Action Healthletter subscribers regularly get science-based advice about diet and diabetes, heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis, and other chronic diseases; delicious recipes; and detailed analyses of the healthy and unhealthy foods in supermarkets and restaurants. If you don’t already subscribe to the world’s most popular nutrition newsletter, click here to join hundreds of thousands of fellow health-minded consumers.

Have a comment, question, or idea?
Send us an email at While we can’t respond to every email, we’ll be sure to read your message.