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Can Cinnamon Really Help Diabetics? Cholesterol? Fat loss? Choleterol Levels? Sugar Cravings?

Most people think of cinnamon as a flavoring for desserts or as a warm, robust scent for candles and potpourri. But this spice may do more than make your house smell good. Cinnamon has been shown to help lower blood glucose levels in people with Type 2 diabetes.

A study published in the journal Diabetes Care in 2003 looked at 60 men and women with Type 2 diabetes and on diabetes medication. The participants ingested 1, 3 or 6 grams of cassia cinnamon or a placebo, in capsule form, for 40 days. After this time, blood glucose levels dropped between 18% and 29% in all three groups that received cinnamon.

In the study, cinnamon also helped lower triglycerides and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.  No significant changes in blood glucose or blood lipid levels occurred in the placebo group. (Diabetes Care 26:3215–3218, 2003, Alam Khan)

The active ingredient in Cinnamon is a compound called cinnamtannin B1. (Taher M, Med J Malaysia. 2004 May;59 Suppl B:97-8.)

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One gram of cinnamon, the lowest (and most effective) amount used in the study, is about 1/5 teaspoon (of a high quality cinnamon). Three grams is about 1/2 teaspoon, and 6 grams is a little more than a teaspoon. If you want to see for yourself if cinnamon might help improve your blood glucose levels, start with the smallest dose (1 gram). Be sure to check your blood glucose levels often and keep good food and blood glucose records. Then, try sprinkling cinnamon on steel cut oats, yogurt, or in your coffee, tea, or cocoa, spread out over the day.

Another option is to take cassia cinnamon in capsule form, taking 500 milligrams twice daily. Cinnamon extracts are also available. The usual dosage is 125 mg extract 2 to 3 times daily.

Cinnamon enjoys a long history of medicinal applications. Cinnamon tea was used to alleviate colds and congestion, and to treat diarrhea. Cinnamon contains a number of powerful antioxidant compounds, so it helps to prevent premature destruction of healthy cells in the body. Additionally, cinnamon possesses anti-microbial activity, so it helps to reduce the risk of food-borne diseases caused by bacteria. There are no known side effects or safety risks.

Cinnamon Helps Glucose and Lipids for Type II Diabetes

The 2003 Diabetes Care study is only one of a number of published trials.  In a London study of 58 Type 2 diabetics, some patients were given regular pharmaceutical blood sugar controlling drugs, and another group was given two grams of cinnamon daily. After 12 weeks, the cinnamon group showed a significantly lower fasting glucose level than the drug group.  The cinnamon group also showed reduced body fat overall compared with the drug group. The authors, who reported the study in the Journal of Diabetic Medicine, recommended cinnamon supplementation for Type 2 diabetes.

Another British review of 8 human studies on the use of cinnamon for Type 2 diabetes found that cinnamon supplementation reduced fasting blood glucose, and reduced blood sugar levels after eating. Cinnamon supplementation may play a role in reducing overall complications arising from Type 2 diabetes.

In yet one more study of cinnamon and its effects on blood glucose, 22 subjects were monitored for blood sugar and body fat. Cinnamon supplementation reduced fasting blood sugar, and also reduced overall body fat percentage, while improving lean muscle mass. These results support the use of cinnamon supplementation in cases of blood sugar disorders.

The most recent study (human trial) published in May 2010 in the Journal of Diabetes Science Technology concluded that components of cinnamon may be important in the alleviation and prevention of the signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular and related diseases due to its positive effects on insulin, blood sugar, cholesterol and other lipids and antioxidant protection. (Qin B)

Although published research is limited, a number of my patients have reported that cinnamon extract is the best supplement they have found to help reduce sugar cravings.

All this makes cinnamon an excellent and affordable choice for someone concerned about blood sugar levels, cholesterol, body fat and their weight!!!

~Dr. Beth

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