The Spice of Life: Exploring the Pros and Cons of Cinnamon Supplements

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Cinnamon, a beloved spice that’s been used for centuries for its aromatic and flavor-enhancing properties, has been making waves in the health and wellness scene. This wonder spice, now available in supplement form, is being touted for a range of potential health benefits, from managing blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes to aiding digestion and beyond. But like any supplement, it comes with its own set of considerations. In this article, we’ll delve into the benefits and potential drawbacks of cinnamon supplements, guiding you through the latest research findings, potential interactions with medications, and safety concerns, so you can make an informed decision about whether cinnamon supplements are right for you. Let’s embark.

What Is Cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a type of spice that comes from the bark of trees in the Cinnamomum family. It has been used for thousands of years as a flavoring agent, a preservative, and a natural medicine. Cinnamon has a warm, sweet, and aromatic flavor that is popular in both sweet and savory dishes.

There are two main types of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon and cassia cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon, also known as “true” cinnamon, is more expensive and has a milder flavor than cassia cinnamon, which is more commonly used in the United States. Both types of cinnamon have been linked to a range of health benefits, including improving blood sugar control, reducing inflammation, and improving heart health.

Cinnamon can be used in a variety of ways, including sprinkling it on oatmeal or toast, adding it to coffee or tea, or using it as a seasoning in savory dishes like curries or stews. Cinnamon can also be taken as a dietary supplement in capsule or powder form, although it is important to talk to a healthcare professional before taking cinnamon supplements, especially if you are taking medication or have a medical condition.

What are the Benefits of Cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a spice that offers a range of health benefits for adults. Here are some of the key benefits of cinnamon in human health:

  • Blood Sugar: Cinnamon can improve blood sugar control by increasing insulin sensitivity, which can be beneficial for people with diabetes or those at risk of developing it.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation throughout the body and may be helpful for managing conditions like arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Cholesterol: Cinnamon can improve heart health by reducing blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Anti-oxidant: Cinnamon has antioxidant properties, which can help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals and may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
  • Antimicrobial: Cinnamon may have antimicrobial properties, which means it can help fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi that can cause infections.
  • Cognition: Cinnamon polyphenols are of interest to Alzheimer’s researchers. [PMID: 29258915]
  • Skin health: Cinnamon is being studied for its possible usefulness in skin health as an ingredient in skin products. [PMID: 22233457]

Overall, cinnamon is a beneficial spice that can improve blood sugar control, reduce inflammation, improve heart health, and offer protection against oxidative stress and certain types of cancer. It is important to consume cinnamon in moderation as part of a balanced diet and to talk to a healthcare professional before taking cinnamon supplements, especially if you are taking medication or have a medical condition.

Cinnamon Research: A New Ally in Type 2 Diabetes Management?

Recent studies have explored the use of cinnamon for managing type 2 diabetes and a review of the randomized controlled trials was done. It included 10 randomized trials, which covered 543 patients looking at the impact of cinnamon on blood glucose and lipid levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.

People who took between 120 mg to 6 grams of cinnamon daily for 4 to 18 weeks saw good changes in their blood test results. Their blood sugar levels when fasting, total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood) all went down. Plus, their HDL (good) cholesterol levels actually went up. But there was no major change in their hemoglobin A1c levels, which is a key measure of long-term blood sugar control.

To give you an idea of the changes, cinnamon intake dropped fasting blood sugar levels by around 24.59 mg/dL, total cholesterol by about 15.60 mg/dL, LDL cholesterol by roughly 9.42 mg/dL, and triglycerides by approximately 29.59 mg/dL. It also boosted HDL cholesterol levels by about 1.66 mg/dL. These are positive results, but since the studies had a lot of differences between them, we need to be careful when considering what they mean.

To sum up, eating cinnamon has shown some clear benefits for people with type 2 diabetes. It can lower blood sugar levels, total cholesterol, bad cholesterol (LDL), and fats in the blood (triglycerides). It can even raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels. But we’re not sure yet if it can affect long-term blood sugar control (measured by hemoglobin A1c).

Also, because the studies differ a lot from each other, it’s hard to say how much cinnamon and how long people should take it for the best results. So, while cinnamon might be a helpful addition to a diet for people with type 2 diabetes, we need more studies to be sure and to give precise advice on how to use it. [PMC3767714]

Is Cinnamon Safe?

Although cinnamon is a commonly used spice and is generally safe as a supplement, it’s important to consider its potential side effects and interactions with other drugs when used as a supplement for health purposes. But for certain individuals, especially those with existing liver conditions, high doses of cinnamon might lead to liver toxicity. Therefore, it’s especially recommended that you consult with your healthcare provider before starting cinnamon.

While the vast majority of people can probably take cinnamon with no problems, there are some concerns

  • Liver Enzymes: A review of randomized studies investigated the impact of cinnamon supplements on liver enzymes. Overall, the research found that cinnamon didn’t significantly affect most liver enzymes in adults. But, the effect of cinnamon on ALT levels was significant at the dosages of <1500 mg/day, in trials lasting more than 12 weeks. [PMID: 33639251]
  • Coumarin-Induced Liver Toxicity: Coumarin is a component in cinnamon that has been found to cause liver toxicity in some people. A 2022 narrative review of the literature on coumarin found that only a few cases of severe hepatotoxicity have been described in the literature, with no reported cases of liver failure. [PMC9783661]

Medication Interactions with Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice that can interact with certain medications. Here are some medications that can interact with cinnamon and the severity of each interaction:

  • Diabetes medications: Cinnamon may lower blood sugar levels, so taking it with diabetes medications that also lower blood sugar, such as insulin or metformin, can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
  • Blood thinners: Cinnamon may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with blood thinners such as warfarin or heparin.
  • Antibiotics: Cinnamon may interfere with the effectiveness of certain antibiotics, including ciprofloxacin and erythromycin. This can lead to reduced absorption of the medication and may make it less effective in treating infections.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: Cinnamon may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
  • Statins: Cinnamon may interact with statins, which are medications used to lower cholesterol levels. This can lead to an increased risk of side effects such as muscle pain or liver damage.

Overall, cinnamon can interact with certain medications, so it is important to talk to a healthcare professional before taking cinnamon if you are taking any medications. Depending on the medication, the severity of the interaction can range from mild to moderate. It is important to follow your healthcare provider’s advice and to monitor your health closely if you are taking cinnamon with any medications.

Supplement Interactions with Cinnamon

Here are some nutritional supplements that can interact with cinnamon:

  • Chromium: Cinnamon may enhance the effects of chromium, a mineral that is important for blood sugar control. Taking cinnamon with chromium supplements may improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • Iron: Cinnamon may interfere with the absorption of iron, so taking it with iron supplements may reduce their effectiveness. It is recommended to take cinnamon separately from iron supplements.
  • Magnesium: Cinnamon may enhance the effects of magnesium, a mineral that is important for heart health and muscle function. Taking cinnamon with magnesium supplements may improve heart health and reduce the risk of muscle cramps
  • Zinc: Cinnamon may interfere with the absorption of zinc, so taking it with zinc supplements may reduce their effectiveness. It is recommended to take cinnamon separately from zinc supplements.
  • Vitamin B6: Cinnamon may enhance the effects of vitamin B6, a vitamin that is important for nerve function and brain health. Taking cinnamon with vitamin B6 supplements may improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of neurological disorders.

So, overall, cinnamon can interact with certain nutritional supplements, but often in a beneficial way.

Order Cinnamon Online

Cinnamon Standardized — Nature’s Way

Cinnamon has a plethora of uses beyond being added to sweet treats and apple cider. You’ve probably got some in your spice cabinet right now, but did you know cinnamon bark has been used for centuries? Cinnamon was used by the ancient Egyptians, as well as in ancient Chinese culture. Nature’s Way Cinnamon is a premium extract that helps support blood sugar metabolism, uniting the wisdom of the past with the power of today.*

Amount Per 1 Capsule Serving

Cinnamon … 350 mg** (Cinnamomum spp.)

Cinnamon … 150mg** (Cinnamomum aromaticum) (Bark Extract standardized to 8% flavonoids (12 mg))

To Sum It Up…

Cinnamon supplements have gotten our attention because studies suggest benefits such as improved blood sugar control for type 2 diabetes, lowered cholesterol levels, and digestive health support. However, some research has indicated that cinnamon supplements might not significantly impact long-term blood sugar control. Also, they can potentially interact with certain medications. Moreover, high doses may cause liver toxicity in individuals with existing liver conditions.

So, the decision to incorporate cinnamon into your health regimen should be based on a personal risk-benefit analysis, taking into account your specific health circumstances, potential interactions with other medications, and always in consultation with a trusted healthcare provider.

About the Author

Supplement Sciences

Staff Authors at Nutriscape have been working on this article and it is still a work in progress. Please feel free to login and comment on what you see so far.

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