Cinnamaldehyde in diabetes: A review of pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and safety

Pharmacol Res. 2017 Aug;122:78-89. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2017.05.019. Epub 2017 May 27.


Cinnamaldehyde, one of the active components derived from Cinnamon, has been used as a natural flavorant and fragrance agent in kitchen and industry. Emerging studies have been performed over the past decades to evaluate its beneficial role in management of diabetes and its complications. This review highlights recent advances of cinnamaldehyde in its glucolipid lowering effects, its pharmacokinetics, and its safety by consulting the Pubmed, China Knowledge Resource Integrated, China Science and Technology Journal, National Science and Technology Library, Wanfang Data, and the Web of Science Databases. For the inquiries, keywords such as Cinnamon, cinnamaldehyde, property, synthesis, diabetes, obesity, pharmacokinetics, and safety were used in various combinations. Accumulating evidence supports the notion that cinnamaldehyde exhibits glucolipid lowering effects in diabetic animals by increasing glucose uptake and improving insulin sensitivity in adipose and skeletal muscle tissues, improving glycogen synthesis in liver, restoring pancreatic islets dysfunction, slowing gastric emptying rates, and improving diabetic renal and brain disorders. Cinnamaldehyde exerts these effects through its action on multiple signaling pathways, including PPARs, AMPK, PI3K/IRS-1, RBP4-GLUT4, and ERK/JNK/p38MAPK, TRPA1-ghrelin and Nrf2 pathways. In addition, cinnamaldehyde seems to regulate the activities of PTP1B and α-amylase. Furthermore, cinnamaldehyde has the potential of metalizing into cinnamyl alcohol and methyl cinnamate and cinnamic acid in the body. Finally, there is a potential toxicity concern about this compound. In summary, cinnamaldehyde supplementation is shown to improve glucose and lipid homeostasis in diabetic animals, which may provide a new option for diabetic intervention. To this end, further scientific evidences are required from clinical trials on its glucose regulating effects and safety.

Keywords: Cinnamaldehyde; Diabetes; Obesity; Pharmacokinetics; Pharmacology; Safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acrolein / analogs & derivatives*
  • Acrolein / chemistry
  • Acrolein / pharmacokinetics
  • Acrolein / pharmacology
  • Acrolein / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Cinnamomum zeylanicum / chemistry
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / chemistry
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Acrolein
  • Glucose
  • cinnamic aldehyde