Is Cinnamon Effective for High Blood Pressure Control?

Cinnamon
Can cinnamon lower your blood pressure?. Getty

When considering your high blood pressure, it's important to focus on measures that are known to be effective and helpful. Lifestyle factors that improve blood pressure control include sodium restriction, a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and smoking cessation. Many people require additional treatment with one or more antihypertensive medications. And although the data to support use of traditional remedies is not robust, some studies have suggested cinnamon can lower blood pressure.

Cinnamon, a popular and widely available seasoning, is a sweet spice from the bark of an evergreen tree native to southeast Asia. There are several types, cassia cinnamon being the most common type found in the United States.

Cinnamon has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and renewed interest in traditional remedies has prompted formal study of potential benefits and safety.

What Does the Research Say?

Most recent efforts to examine medicinal properties of cinnamon have focused on its effect on blood sugar. Although the mechanism is unknown, some studies report cinnamon may have a beneficial effect on blood sugar control in those with diabetes. The evidence has been mixed, but one recent systemic review of ten different studies suggests cinnamon lowers both fasting blood glucose and total cholesterol.

There is less available evidence to support claims for using cinnamon to control blood pressure.

 A 2012 review of three studies on the effect of cinnamon on blood pressure in patients with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes found a short term reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, but these studies were small and more research is necessary before cinnamon can be widely recommended for blood pressure control.

A separate study, performed to examine the effect of a product containing cinnamon, calcium, and zinc, showed no reduction in blood pressure in people with hypertension and type II diabetes. Overall, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health currently advises that human studies do not support use of cinnamon for any health condition.

Does Using Cinnamon Bring About Side Effects?

In human studies, participants used varying amounts of cinnamon, from a fraction of a teaspoon to two teaspoons each day. Side effects were rare when cinnamon is added to food in normal doses.

Cinnamon is also available as a dietary supplement, but it is important to be cautious, since dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. If you are taking other medications or herbal supplements, always consult with your doctor—interactions may occur between supplements and medications, resulting in adverse outcomes.

Although cinnamon is generally considered safe for short-term use by most people, some may have an allergic reaction to the spice. Cinnamon also contains a chemical known as coumarin, which can be harmful in individuals with liver disease. Although coumarin is a precursor to the blood-thinner known as warfarin, the precursor found in plants does not affect the ability of blood to clot.

A Word From Verywell

Expert panels make recommendations after thorough review of all published evidence, and it's clear that there is not enough evidence in support of cinnamon as an alternative to proven therapies for hypertension.

Cinnamon sprinkled on oatmeal is undeniably appetizing and a cinnamon stick is a festive and tasty addition to a hot coffee or cocoa drink, but they are unlikely to help you control blood pressure. Although it is possible that additional studies will suggest a more tangible health benefit, don't rely upon cinnamon to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

All evidence shows lifestyle modifications, including regular exercise, reduction of sodium and alcohol intake, smoking cessation, and maintenance of a healthy weight are the most effective initial measures for anyone with high blood pressure.

Many individuals will require one or more blood pressure medications to reach a healthy blood pressure target. Although it's tempting to try a home remedy, don't rely on measures that are unlikely to be helpful so that you can avoid the long term consequences of high blood pressure. When you choose a treatment for hypertension, discuss with your health care provider to choose something that has been proven effective.

Sources:

Akilen R, Pimlott Z, Tsiami A, Robinson N. Effect of short-term administration of cinnamon on blood pressure in patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Nutrition. 2013;29:1192–1196.

Allen, et al. Cinnamon Use in Type 2 Diabetes: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Annals of Family Medicine, September 2013. 11(5): 452 - 459.

Leach MJ, Kumar S. Cinnamon for diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD007170. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007170.pub2.

Medagama AB. The glycaemic outcomes of Cinnamon, a review of the experimental evidence and clinical trials. Nutrition Journal. 2015;14:108. doi:10.1186/s12937-015-0098-9.

Soare A, Weiss EP, Holloszy JO, Fontana L. Multiple dietary supplements do not affect metabolic and cardiovascular health. Aging (Albany NY). 2014;6(2):149-157.

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