Spice Up Your Eating: Cinnamon And PCOS

When you think of cinnamon, do foods like pumpkin bread, apple pie, spiced cider, oatmeal, and pumpkin spice lattes come to mind? Well, recent research provides some welcome news: Cinnamon may help people with PCOS lower hormones, and improve insulin and cholesterol levels. It may even help to regulate your periods.

Here’s what to know about this popular spice.

PCOS and Cinnamon

A total of eight studies have examined the use of cinnamon in women with PCOS (one in mice), all with favorable results. Here’s what the studies have found:

Lowers AMH Levels

In a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, women with PCOS were randomly chosen to take 500 mg metformin divided into two doses or 100 mg of cinnamon for 6 months. Both groups saw significant reductions in anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH).

Improves Menstrual Regularity in PCOS

In a prospective, placebo controlled, double-blinded randomized trial, 45 women with PCOS were randomized to receive cinnamon supplements (1.5 g/d) or placebo for 6 months. Menstrual cycles were more frequent in patients taking cinnamon compared with patients taking placebo. Measures of insulin resistance or serum androgen levels did not change for either group.

Improves Insulin and Cholesterol Levels

Perhaps the most evidence of cinnamon’s use in the PCOS population is aiding in lowering glucose, insulin, and cholesterol levels.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of 5 clinical trials demonstrated that oral cinnamon supplementation in PCOS patients led to a significant decrease of fasting blood sugar and insulin, LDL, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Besides, an improvement of serum concentration of HDL was shown by cinnamon supplementation.

In a small pilot study, 15 women with PCOS were randomized to cinnamon or placebo 8 weeks. The cinnamon group had significant reductions in insulin resistance.

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Improves Antioxidant Status

Cinnamon is a natural antioxidant. A double-blind randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted on 84 PCOS patients; aged 20-38 years. Groups were given 3 cinnamon capsules (each one contained 500 mg cinnamon) or placebo daily for 8 weeks. Cinnamon significantly increased serum total antioxidant capacity and significantly improved serum level of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

cinnamon pcos

Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Cinnamon use has also been shown to help those with type 2 diabetes.

In a double-blind study, 79 patients with type 2 treated with oral antidiabetics (such as metformin) or diet, were randomly assigned to take either a cinnamon extract or a placebo capsule three times a day for 4 months. The amount of cinnamon extract corresponded to 3 g (1 teaspoon) of cinnamon powder per day. The cinnamon group had a significantly better reduction of fasting glucose (10.3%) than in the placebo group (3.4%).

Based on these results, the researchers suggest that cinnamon extract seems to have a moderate effect in reducing fasting glucose levels in diabetic patients and possibly, women with PCOS. Reductions in glucose levels associated with cinnamon have also been found in individuals without diabetes.

Other research shows that cinnamon not only lowers fasting glucose levels but cholesterol levels too.

Sixty people with type 2 diabetes were divided randomly into six groups. The first 3 groups consumed 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon daily, while the remaining groups were given placebo capsules that corresponded to the number of capsules consumed for the three levels of cinnamon. After 40 days, all three levels of cinnamon reduced the mean fasting serum glucose (18-29%), triglyceride (23-30%), LDL cholesterol (7-27%), and total cholesterol (12-26%) levels.

How Cinnamon Works

Cinnamon has been used in traditional medicine for various disorders such as headache, toothache, common cold, diarrhea, flatulence, fever, and amenorrhea.

Cinnamon seems to work by increasing the phosphorylation of insulin receptors which leads to improved insulin function and sensitivity. It may also reduce insulin levels by slowing the movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine (a part of digestion called “gastric emptying”) which also slows the breakdown of carbohydrates. Cinnamon has also been shown to affect adiponectin secretion from fat cells.

Side Effects of Cinnamon

Since it may lower glucose and insulin levels, you should discuss the use of cinnamon with your doctor. Careful monitoring of blood sugar levels is important to prevent hypoglycemia, which a lot of women with PCOS tend to experience as a result of elevated insulin levels. While side effects are very minimal, there is no need to exceed more than 2 teaspoons (6 grams) per day to get results.

Cinnamon can also be taken in a capsule form sold as cinnamon cassia extract to meet therapeutic dosages.

 

apple walnut crisp

Tips to Add Cinnamon Into Your Eating Plan

Cinnamon contains no calories nor does it have any carbohydrates in it, making it a great spice to use in foods.

  • Sprinkle on cereal
  • Blend into a smoothie
  • Mix into coffee drinks
  • Add to peanut butter sandwiches
  • Flavor savory dishes
  • Stir into oatmeal, cottage cheese, yogurt and on other foods

Share with us! What is your favorite way to use cinnamon?

References:

  1. Heydarpour F,Effects of cinnamon on controlling metabolic parameters of polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2020 May 23;254:112741.
  2. Heshmati J,The effect of cinnamon supplementation on glycemic control in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Food Biochem. 2020 Oct 27:e13543.
  3. Borzoei A, Effects of cinnamon supplementation on antioxidant status and serum lipids in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. J Tradit Complement Med. 2017 May 19;8(1):128-133.
  4. Wiweko B, Susanto C. The Effect of Metformin and Cinnamon on Serum Anti-Mullerian Hormone in Women Having PCOS: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial. J Hum Reprod Sci. 2017 Jan-Mar;10(1):31-36.
  5. Kort DH, Preliminary evidence that cinnamon improves menstrual cyclicity in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial.Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Nov;211(5):487
  6. Khan A. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2003;26:3215-3218.
  7. Mang B. Effects of a cinnamon extract on plasma glucose, HbA, and serum lipids in diabetes mellitus type Eur J Clin Invest. 2006;36:340-4.
  8. Hlebowicz J. Effect of cinnamon on postprandial blood glucose, gastric emptying, and satiety in healthy subjects. Amer J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(6):1552-1556.
  9. Wang JG. The effect of cinnamon extract on insulin resistance parameters in polycystic ovary syndrome: a pilot study. Fertility and sterility. Jul 2007;88(1):240-243.

pcos dietitian angela grassiAngela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN, is the founder of The PCOS Nutrition Center, for which she has been providing evidence-based nutrition information and coaching to people with PCOS for over 20 years. Angela is the author of several books on PCOS, including PCOS: The Dietitian’s Guide, The PCOS Workbook: Your Guide to Complete Physical and Emotional Health, and The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook. Angela is the past recipient of The Outstanding Nutrition Entrepreneur Award, The Award in Excellence in Practice in Women’s Health, and The Award for Excellence in Graduate Research, from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Having PCOS herself, Angela has been dedicated to advocacy, education, and research of the syndrome. Click here to schedule a session with Angela to learn more about how nutrition coaching for PCOS can help you!

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Comments (4)
  • Erika

    January 20, 2016 at 9:24 am

    I think most cooks associate cinnamon with sweet foods. Middle eastern cooking frequently uses cinnamon in savory dishes. So try cooking Moroccan it will be fun and you’ll get in more cinnamon. I find grating it from a stick has more flavor than buying it already ground.

  • Angela Grassi

    March 23, 2016 at 2:02 am

    great article.

  • Max

    June 10, 2018 at 2:34 am

    Would it be safe to take metformin and 5g of cinnamon a day incorrectly?

  • Angela Grassi

    June 11, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    You can take metformin and cinnamon together, although you may want to start with a smaller amount, around 3 grams or 1 teaspoon per day.

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