Don’t go it alone with cinnamon

I field lots of questions from readers about using cinnamon for blood sugar control. And, yes, research shows cinnamon does help lower and regulate insulin responses and blood sugar. But not so fast…

Last month, a 73-year old woman developed hepatitis after she started taking cinnamon supplements for blood sugar control.

Now, this single case of hepatitis shouldn’t worry you, as I’ll explain in a moment. But you still shouldn’t take cinnamon alone to manage your Type II diabetes.

First and foremost, you should never go it alone when it comes to blood sugar issues. Always work with a qualified doctor.

Second, you should not take cinnamon as the sole treatment for Type II diabetes.

You see, we don’t yet have established treatment protocols for cinnamon. For example, clinical research has yet to be done to determine how much cinnamon a 200 lb. man should take. And how often he should take it. And when his insulin response improves, by how much should the dosage change. Type II diabetes is far too serious a disease to tackle without established clinical protocols.

Third, Type II diabetes treatments should help prevent the long-term complications of eye, heart, kidney and peripheral nerve disease. And we just don’t know about this aspect of cinnamon treatment yet.

Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to pursue that kind of research when the clueless National Institutes of Health (NIH) office–charged with conducting studies on natural and nutritional alternatives–concluded only recently that there’s no evidence for any natural supplements for controlling diabetes. Despite the mounds of promising research on vitamins, minerals, and traditional herbal remedies.

Now, back to this silly case against cinnamon, originally published in the American Journal of Case Reports.

First of all, they launched this attack based on one, single case.

If any scientist tried to publish a paper on the benefits of a natural treatment based on the evidence of just one, single case, they would be laughed out of the room. A mainstream journal would never accept this kind of report as evidence for establishing causation for a natural treatment benefit. So it clearly exemplifies the the strong publication bias so common in medical literature.

When a scientist reports on a single case of a natural treatment with a supposedly negative outcome, the case makes it to the front page. It also results in press releases and big, splashy headlines on the web.

Here’s the second problem I have with this report…

The woman was also taking daily high-doses of a toxic statin drug.

Research shows statins poison normal cholesterol metabolism in the liver. But when the patient develops a liver condition–of course, their knee-jerk reaction is to blame the herb, not the drug!

It’s complete lunacy.

The “researchers” quickly speculated that coumarin, a substance found in cinnamon supplements, harmed the liver. Of course coumarin itself is readily available and commonly used as a drug all on its own.

Daniel Brancheau, M.D., of Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan, commented, “There were no other medications the patient was taking that could cause the extent of the liver damage…”

Here is a good effort at slight-of-hand because when a patient is already taking statins, you don’t need any other drug to explain liver damage. Statins will do nicely.

Of course, more and more doctors now realize their patients shouldn’t take statin drugs. And according to a report last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, most gerontologists now conclude there’s no reason at all for patients in their 70s to keep taking statins.

Even though this silly mainstream attack against cinnamon doesn’t hold water, I still don’t recommend you supplement solely with the spice for blood sugar control.

The good news is…there is a safe, effective, and affordable mainstream treatment for Type II diabetes. And it derives from French lilac, an ancient herbal remedy for high blood sugar.

Men and women used French lilac in Europe until through the Middle Ages until the early 20th century. In the U.S., the herb is more commonly known as goat’s rue. And the USDA classifies it as a “noxious weed.”

In the mid-to-late 20th century, French lilac seemed to fall out of favor and disappeared for a while. Then in 1980s, it reemerged, disguised as a drug called metformin.

Actually, metformin has now been around so long, you can get it as an inexpensive generic.

Interestingly, metformin’s known “side effects” include additional health benefits. In fact, metformin is the only drug treatment proven to prevent all the long-term complications of Type II diabetes. It also lowers the risk of cancer, obesity, and other chronic diseases.

The newer, more expensive, dangerous drugs for Type II diabetes have not been shown to prevent these deadly long-term complications. So, why are doctors prescribing them? And why is anyone taking them? (More on these newer Type II diabetes drugs tomorrow.)

Patients don’t want to take these new, dangerous, and expensive Type II diabetes drugs. So I can understand why my thoughtful Dispatch and Insiders’ Cures readers are looking for natural alternatives such as cinnamon.

If you want to add cinnamon to hot beverages and to spice up foods, feel free. But we aren’t ready to rely solely on cinnamon or supplements to manage Type II diabetes and its complications completely.

As long as you are working with a doctor to monitor your blood sugar levels, you can take cinnamon or other supplement(s) together with metformin, and your doctor can make any adjustments accordingly. Just make sure you always tell your doctor about all the supplements you use. It’s fail-safe approach for achieving safe and effective blood sugar control and preventing diabetic complications.

If you have blood sugar issues, you should also take a good B vitamin complex; carotenoids like lutein and astaxanthin; anthocyanins in blueberry; and 10,000 IU of vitamin D per day. These nutrients will help support organs such as the eyes, heart, kidneys, and the nervous system, and help protect from diabetic complications.


1. “Do cinnamon supplements cause acute hepatitis?” Am J Case Rep 2015 Apr 29;16:250-4

2. “Cinnamon Supplements May Be Risky for People Taking Statins,” Live Science ( 5/14/2015