It looks like my ginger article was not flagged as spam, which is a huge relief. I think my chili pepper article just had too many urls in it, so I am going to give references now by pubmed id, pmc id, doi, or I'll go old school with a full citation (author, title, publication yr, etc).

So far, we have learned that capsaicin-containing peppers and ginger have the potential to aid in weight loss. These are two spices I see touted quite a bit on diet blogs, and I am happy to say that, from the information I read, both are safe (in reasonable quantities) and healthy.

Now, I want to move onto another spice you've probably seen mentioned quite a few times: cinnamon.

Is it safe?

I can't give you a straight forward answer, like in the previous articles, because there isn't a strict LD50 (lethal dose for 50% of the population) or TD50 (toxic dose for 50% of the population) that I could find. Things are further complicated with the rise and fall of the "cinnamon challenge", which could kill someone--not through the toxicity of cinnamon itself, but through breathing problems associated with the powdery nature of the spice.

According to one study on rats tested with cinnamon aqueous extract, 0.5 g / kg was deemed "safe" (1). However, most clinical trials with humans that I've come across don't go higher than 6 g or about 2 tsp.

But, please, don't put a spoonful in your mouth. At best, it is an extreme choking hazard; at worst, it could cause a collapsed lung. The reasonable thing to do would be to put a teaspoon or two of cinnamon in a drink or on a food of choice, like oatmeal.

Does it work?

Much like my ginger article, there isn't a lot out there in terms of research on specifically the weight loss potential of cinnamon with human beings. Two good papers were behind a pay wall. That wasn't an issue for one of them, because the abstract/summary contained detailed methods and results; however, the other paper was not so nearly as detailed about cinnamon in their abstract, as it was a review (reviews are papers that are about a field or area of research, information is gathered from available literature, the authors do not typically publish their own results) about a multitude of spices.

This review article included cinnamon in their literature search and concluded that: bioactive compounds from [a collection of spices, including cinnamon] are able to reduce lipid accumulation in fat cells and adipose tissues. After oral treatment with the spice extracts, fat cells went into programmed cell death (apoptosis), thermogenesis was promoted in fat tissues, and there was decreased body weight gain in obese animal models and human participants, which provide the basis for these functional food compounds to be developed into dietary supplements against obesity (2). This is not to say that cinnamon does ALL of these things, but the collection of spices (cinnamon, rosemary, ginger, pepper, saffron, garlic, onion and turmeric) apparently do have these abilities combined.

In a randomized, controlled trial on acute and long-term effects of daily supplementation of kanuka honey--including cinnamon, chromium and magnesium--for 40 days at a dose of 53.5 g, there was no statistically significant difference in acute glucose metabolism between treatment groups, nor was there any difference between fasting glucose, fasting insulin, or HbA1c levels. However, there was a reduction in total cholesterol and weight. Basically, it doesn't help people with diabetes much with controlling their disease, but kanuka honey, formulated with cinnamon, was associated with a reduction in weight (3).

In other trials on cinnamon's effects on diabetic people, results are in opposition to the above with respect to blood sugar. An improvement in glycaemic control was seen in patients who received Cinnamon (500 mg to 6 g per day for a duration lasting from 40 days to 4 months) as the sole therapy for diabetes, those with pre-diabetes (IFG or IGT) and in those with high pre-treatment HbA1c. In animal models, cinnamon reduced fasting and postprandial plasma glucose and HbA1c (4). They also mention a need for more research on safety: long-term trials aiming to establish the efficacy and safety of cinnamon are needed. However, high coumarin content of Cinnamomum cassia is a concern, but Cinnamomum zeylanicum with its low coumarin content would be a safer alternate (4).

Regarding weight loss in a trial with rats, oral administration of the Cinnamomum parthenoxylon bark extract at doses of 100, 200, and 300 mg/kg body wt caused significant changes in body weight loss and fasting blood glucose levels (5).

In conclusion, we can assume cinnamon helps glycemic control. There is a lack of research on the weight reduction aspect, but there is some data supporting the assertion.

banana, breakfast, and Cinnamon image tea, autumn, and winter image
Dash some in your tea or mix it in with some food. Just don't swallow a spoonful!



PMID: 30168574

PMID: 25986159

PMID: 26475130

PMID: 19464860