Cinnamon

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There is growing interest recently in thepotential benefits of using cinnamonfor treating diabetes.

Although cinnamon bark and cinnamonflowers are used medicinally, Chinesecinnamon, or Cinnamomum aromaticum, isthe form used for diabetes.

The active ingredient in cinnamon includesthe chemical hydroxychalcone, which mightenhance the effect of insulin.

Specifically, hydroxychalcone may workon insulin receptors to increase insulinsensitivity and help promote glucose uptakeinto cells and tissues and promote glycogen(the storage form of glucose) synthesis.

Cinnamon has been used for type 2 diabetesand for gastrointestinal (GI) complaints,including flatulence, GI spasms, nausea andvomiting, and diarrhea.

Other common uses include treatmentfor common infections, the common cold,menopausal symtoms, rheumatic conditions,hypertension, angina and kidney disorders.

Cinnamon, of course, is a popular flavoringagent for foods and beverages and is acommon ingredient in chewing gums,toothpastes, mouthwash, liniments, nasalsprays and suntan lotions.

Cinnamon may cause blood glucose tobe excessively lowered when combinedwith agents that can cause hypoglycemia,such as sulfonylureas (Amaryl, glyburide orglipizide) or insulin. If you take any of thesemedications, your dose may have to beadjusted to prevent excessive lowering ofblood glucose from reacting with cinnamon.

Note: There is a lot of exciting researchunderway evaluating the effects of cinnamonin type 2. When using cinnamon, it is importantto check blood glucose frequently to make surethat it is not lowered excessively. If it is loweredtoo much, causing hypoglycemia (low bloodglucose), contact your healthcare providerto discuss changing the dose of diabetesmedications. Longer term effects on bloodglucose control can be assessed by checkingA1C levels.

Cinnamon Therapy for Type 2? Eating Cinnamon Buns Isn’t the Answer!

In a December 2003 Diabetes Care study,cinnamon was found to improve glucose andlipids in people with diabetes. Sixty patients withtype 2 who were taking a sulfonylurea (glyburide)were given one of three doses of cinnamon (1, 3or 6 grams per day) or a placebo for 40 days.

Fasting blood glucose declined by 18 to 29percent after 40 days in all three cinnamon treatedgroups. Specifically, 1 gram per daydecreased glucose from 209 to 157 mg/dl, 3grams per day decreased glucose from 205 to 169mg/dl and 6 grams per day decreased glucosefrom 234 to 166 mg/dl.

Patients then went without any cinnamon for20 additional days, but their fasting glucose wasstill lower than at baseline for the previouslycinnamon-treated groups, indicating thatcinnamon had a sustained benefit. Furthermore,total cholesterol decreased by 12 to 26 percent,triglycerides decreased by 23 to 30 percent, andLDL (“bad”) cholesterol also declined from 7 to27 percent.

Taking cinnamon did not improve HDL, the“good” cholesterol.

Barking up the Right Tree

Cinnamon comes fromthe bark of an evergreentree that grows to morethan 20 feet. The tree haswhite aromatic bark andangular branches. Its leavesare about 7 inches long,and it has small yellowflowers that bloom in earlysummer. The tree grows intropical climates. The barkis removed in short lengthsand dried.

There are no serious sideeffects associated with theuse of cinnamon.

Hypoglycemia may occur; as apreventive measure, the doseof diabetes medications mayhave to be lowered by thehealthcare provider.

Adverse effects includeskin irritation or contactdermatitis, if used topically.

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