Purpose: Cinnamon has been studied in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for its glycemic-lowering effects, but studies have been small and show conflicting results. A prior meta-analysis did not show significant results, but several RCTs have been published since then. We conducted an updated systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs evaluating cinnamon's effect on glycemia and lipid levels.
Methods: MEDLINE, Embase, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) were searched through February 2012. Included RCTs evaluated cinnamon compared with control in patients with type 2 diabetes and reported at least one of the following: glycated hemoglobin (A1c), fasting plasma glucose, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), or triglycerides. Weighted mean differences (with 95% confidence intervals) for endpoints were calculated using random-effects models.
Results: In a meta-analysis of 10 RCTs (n = 543 patients), cinnamon doses of 120 mg/d to 6 g/d for 4 to 18 weeks reduced levels of fasting plasma glucose (-24.59 mg/dL; 95% CI, -40.52 to -8.67 mg/dL), total cholesterol (-15.60 mg/dL; 95% CI, -29.76 to -1.44 mg/dL), LDL-C (-9.42 mg/dL; 95% CI, -17.21 to -1.63 mg/dL), and triglycerides (-29.59 mg/dL; 95% CI, -48.27 to -10.91 mg/dL). Cinnamon also increased levels of HDL-C (1.66 mg/dL; 95% CI, 1.09 to 2.24 mg/dL). No significant effect on hemoglobin A1c levels (-0.16%; 95%, CI -0.39% to 0.02%) was seen. High degrees of heterogeneity were present for all analyses except HDL-C (I(2) ranging from 66.5% to 94.72%).
Conclusions: The consumption of cinnamon is associated with a statistically significant decrease in levels of fasting plasma glucose, total cholesterol, LDL-C, and triglyceride levels, and an increase in HDL-C levels; however, no significant effect on hemoglobin A1c was found. The high degree of heterogeneity may limit the ability to apply these results to patient care, because the preferred dose and duration of therapy are unclear.
Keywords: cinnamon; lipids; meta-analysis; review; systematic; type 2 diabetes mellitus.