Cinnamon is one of the oldest and most popular spice in the eastern culture. Originally from Asia, it has conquered the West due to its aroma, its taste and its curative and healing properties. In the case of diabetes, these benefits have been demonstrated in numerous study groups in both animals and humans and this has been part of the popular belief. Cinnamon has been used by natural and traditional medicine for a long time thus given it a special place in the pantry of people with type 2 diabetes.
This statement spread around popular culture, but in recent years in the scientific community has found some controversial points because of all these studies have found that while it is true that cinnamon has the properties for reducing and regulating blood sugar levels it could be overshadowed by the presence of another ingredient that has proven to be toxic if it is consumed in high amounts.
Given this controversial finding is necessary to distinguish between the different types of cinnamon that are normally consumed by us humans. On the one hand we have the cassia cinnamon or China, which is effective in doses of ¼ teaspoon to lower and regulate blood sugar levels, but at the same time, possesses a toxic substance called coumarin that in high concentrations can cause liver damage. As a counterpart there’s Ceylon cinnamon native to Sri Lanka, India, which has not shown the same effectiveness of the cassia cinnamon but is much safer because it doesn’t contain coumarin.
This puts us on the fence and in a situation that requires a little more information about when to use cinnamon as an alternative therapy for diabetes or even in everyday cooking. The first thing to establish is that children under 15 years are NOT recommended to ingest cassia cinnamon. We must remember that cinnamon is widely used in preparation of sweet and salty foods and dishes at certain times of the year increasing the consumption of it worldwide.
In adults the recommended sufficient and effective dose is ¼ teaspoon 3 to 4 times a week. I would like to add that your treating physician do liver function tests at least 2 times a year to ensure that there is no damage.
On the other side, Ceylon cinnamon can be used safely in even larger amounts than cassia without any risk of toxicity and thus may be an option in children or in adults who have had previous liver damage. We may also use Ceylon cinnamon as an antioxidant and take advantage of other benefits in cases of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis or to regulate the levels of blood triglycerides. In the latter case a small spoonful can be consumed daily without risk or contraindications.