Cinnamon — the common name for the powder that’s derived from several different Cinnamomum plant species — is considered to be the most widely-used spice in the world. Yet many people don’t realize that cinnamon can also be used as a concentrated powder, as cinnamon pills or cinnamon essential oil form, in addition to sprinkled on meals.
Researchers have referred to cinnamon as a “multifaceted medicinal plant.” Considering that cinnamon benefits include fighting inflammation, supporting heart health and improving insulin sensitivity, it’s not surprising that cinnamon pills have been shown to have many health-promoting effects, due to this spice’s antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-diabetic properties.
What Are Cinnamon Pills?
Do cinnamon pills really work? Cinnamon — which is usually one of two types, cassia or Ceylon cinnamon— contains a number of antioxidants and beneficial compounds, such as cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate and cinnamyl alcohol. Studies show that cinnamon uses include:
- Helping to reduce inflammation and supporting immune function, due to its antioxidant effects
- Slowing the rise in blood glucose (sugar) after a meal, along with lowering blood sugar in people with diabetes
- Preventing or treating infections, such as bronchitis and candida, by fighting bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms
- Supporting cognitive and cardiovascular health
- Potentially helping to prevent or reverse obesity
- Improving dental and skin health
- Helping to treat gastrointestinal problems and loss of appetite
- and much more
Is it safe to take cinnamon pills? Most studies have found that cinnamon is generally safe and well-tolerated; however, cinnamon can potentially interfere with the effects of some medications, such as blood thinners or diabetes medications used to lower blood glucose.
5 Cinnamon Pills Benefits
1. Can Help Normalize Blood Sugar/Prevent Insulin Resistance
Are cinnamon supplements effective at controlling blood sugar? Cinnamon has been shown in a number of studies to have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, which means it can be helpful for people with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and/or insulin resistance. There’s evidence that cinnamon works in several ways to improve metabolic health, such as by helping to increase glycogen synthesis in the liver and by enhancing glucose uptake in skeletal muscles. Compounds in cinnamon powder called MethylHydroxyChalcone polymers (MHCPs) also seem to contribute to its insulin-sensitizing benefits.
However, to be fair, not every study has found that cinnamon can benefit people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, because it doesn’t always necessarily help to reduce levels of glucose long-term. In terms of the best cinnamon pills for diabetes, Ceylon cinnamon (which is usually lighter colored) seems to be less effective at normalizing blood sugar than cassia cinnamon (which is darker colored).
Do cinnamon pills help you lose weight? It’s possible that cinnamon may help with weight management in addition to improving other health markers. In one six-week double blind randomized control trial, 116 individuals with metabolic syndrome were randomized to two dietary intervention groups: those taking six cinnamon pills per day (equal to 3 grams) and those taking six capsules of wheat flour per day (equivalent to 2.5 grams). The results of the study showed that those taking cinnamon experienced a greater decrease in fasting blood glucose, waist circumference and body mass index compared to those in the placebo/wheat flour group.
2. May Help Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Cinnamon has been shown to reduce several of the most common risk factors for heart disease. While not every study has shown that cinnamon has any noticeable effects on heart health, several small studies have found that cinnamon pills can help lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
For example, one study conducted by the American Diabetes Association found that after adults took cinnamon for 40 days, they were found to have lower glucose, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and total cholesterol levels, while the placebo group that did not take cinnamon were found to have no such changes. Additionally, cinnamon may help prevent the formation of blood clots.
3. Has Antioxidant Effects and Can Help Decrease Inflammation
Cinnamon contains a number of antioxidants and beneficial compounds that help control inflammation and fight free radical damage, such as tannins, flavonoids, glycosides, terpenoids and anthraquinones. Cinnamon also increases circulation, improves tissue repair and can help full pain.
4. Protects the Brain
In animal studies, it’s been found that cinnamon powder benefits include protecting the brain by reducing oxidative stress. This means it may have the potential to help prevent conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Cinnamon is believed to support cognitive health by protecting neurons against oxidative stress and reducing cell damage due to its antioxidant and free-radical scavenging properties.
5. Fights Infections
Cinnamon contains many antimicrobial, antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral properties, which means it can support the immune system and help to lower the risk for infections such as candida, bronchitis, the common cold, strep throat and pneumonia.
Cinnamon can also help freshen your breath and support dental health by killing harmful bacteria in the mouth. Additionally, cinnamon seems to help treat skin conditions, including acne, redness and irritation, rosacea and skin allergies.
How many cinnamon capsules should you take? At this time there is no established dosage of cinnamon. The standard recommendation in terms of cinnamon pill dosage is to take between 2 to 4 grams per day (2,000 to 4,000 milligrams), or about ½ to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder.
In certain studies, higher doses up to 6 grams per day of cinnamon have been safely taken; however, taking higher doses than this can potentially be dangerous and isn’t recommended. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, in studies that involve adults with diabetes/insulin resistance, cinnamon doses typically range from 120 to 6,000 milligrams per day.
It’s important not to exceed a dose that provides more than 0.1 milligrams/kilograms of body weight of coumarin, a compound in cinnamon that can be toxic when ingested in high amounts. Ceylon cinnamon is the type that has the lowest levels of coumarin.
When and How to Take
Cinnamon pills can be taken daily, ideally along with carbohydrate-containing meals. Because Ceylon cinnamon contains less of the compound called coumarin, which can sometimes cause adverse effects, it’s considered the better type to take in supplement form.
Of course, cinnamon doesn’t necessarily need to be used as a supplement or taken in pill form; you can use cinnamon as a spice on meals such as oatmeal, in lattes or coffee, or in healthy baked recipes. Additionally, cinnamon bark can be used to make cinnamon tea, which has less potential to cause side effects compared to cinnamon pills or extract.
While cinnamon pills do seem to offer some benefits, healthcare professionals generally still recommend that people with metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, etc. who take cinnamon continue to adhere to a healthy diet and lifestyle, and also follow their doctor’s advice regarding use of medications.
Risks and Side Effects
What are the side effects of taking cinnamon capsules? Can too much cinnamon hurt you?
Although cinnamon is unlikely to cause adverse reactions, when taking this spice in concentrated doses, cinnamon side effects can include: irritation to the mouth and lips, skin redness (when applied topically), indigestion, low blood sugar, allergic reactions in certain people and potential harm to the liver when taken in very high doses.
What drugs does cinnamon interact with? Cinnamon pills can affect blood sugar levels and therefore should not be taken with prescribed diabetes medications without supervision from a healthcare provider. Cinnamon pills may also potentially interact with antibiotics, blood thinners and other heart medications.
Anyone with a blood clotting disorder should discuss taking cinnamon pills with their doctor before beginning to supplement with cinnamon. Because evidence is lacking to show its definitely safe, pregnant and breastfeeding women are usually advised not to take cinnamon pills.
- Cinnamon — which is usually one of two types, cassia or Ceylon cinnamon— contains a number of antioxidants and beneficial compounds.
- Cinnamon has a number of health benefits and may help:
- Normalize blood sugar/prevent insulin resistance
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
- Decrease inflammation
- Protect the brain
- Fight infections
- The standard recommendation in terms of cinnamon pill dosage is to take between 2 to 4 grams per day (2,000 to 4,000 milligrams), or about ½ to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder.
- Cinnamon pills can affect blood sugar levels and should not be taken with prescribed diabetes medications without supervision from a healthcare provider.
- Cinnamon pills may also potentially interact with antibiotics, blood thinners and other heart medications.
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