Around the holidays, I like to write about healthy, healing spices that add flavor to the season. And cinnamon certainly fits the bill.
In fact, we’ve known for a long time that cinnamon helps lower blood sugar. Currently, we don’t have actual clinical protocols for managing blood sugar and Type II diabetes with cinnamon. In other words, there aren’t any precise schedules, doses, forms, and regimens for administering cinnamon as a blood sugar remedy, as with insulin and metformin.
Of course, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) ¾ the government agency charged with doing this kind of research that keeps changing its name ¾ claims no evidence exists for using any natural approaches for managing Type II diabetes. So, with that kind of mainstream-influenced attitude, it’s no wonder things are where they stand now.
But in the meantime, new, positive research on cinnamon continues to come in, as I’ll report in a moment.
Unfortunately, one new study on cinnamon completely misses the mark.
For that study, participants took 3,000 mg of cinnamon powder, or a placebo, daily for eight weeks. Overall, the men and women who took the cinnamon failed to show “statistically significant” reductions in blood sugar.
However, the study authors admitted how previous studies indicated that taking larger doses for a longer period of time does in fact benefit blood sugar. In fact, men and women in previous studies have exhibited much better results taking just 1,500 to 3,000 mg, from as little as six weeks up to three months.
Of course, I always say you need two to three months to see the full benefits of any herbal remedy.
Other studies with stronger results
In a different study, researchers found that cinnamon extract reduces blood sugar following a meal. And that finding is especially important because controlling high blood sugar after eating is critical to controlling Type II diabetes and the vascular complications associated with the disease.
In the first part of the study, it was found that cinnamon extract inhibited amylase enzyme activity in test tubes. Amylase is the pancreatic enzyme that breaks down starches into sugars. So, in this part of the study, they discovered that cinnamon essentially acts as a “starch blocker.”
In the second part of the study, the researchers placed lab animals into groups. Then, they tested how the animals responded to cinnamon following a high-starch meal, where they observed a strong dose-response effect. In other words, as they increased the doses of cinnamon, the animals’ blood sugar measurements decreased over time, after eating the high-starch meal. Cinnamon decreased both blood sugar and insulin levels in doses of 12.5 mg/kg body weight and above.
In the third and final part of the study, researchers conducted a clinical trial on 22 healthy subjects between the ages of 18 and 45 years. The researchers divided the participants into two groups. One group received a cinnamon extract and the other group received a placebo. Next, the participants ate three slices of white bread; after which, researchers measured their blood sugar levels.
Then, the subjects participated in a second observation, where they received the opposite form of treatment (cinnamon or placebo). The researchers found eating cinnamon lowered the participants’ blood sugar levels. But they did not observe any effect on insulin levels.
Thus, the lowered blood sugar was independent of insulin and likely related to the “starch-blocking” activity shown in the lab.
The key to managing blood sugar is to slow how fast your body absorbs sugar into the blood. It’s also good to increase sugar’s uptake into muscle and other tissues where it’s literally “burned.”
Clearly, cinnamon slows sugar absorption into the blood after a meal by slowing the breakdown of starches. (Other ingredients like aspal, also known as rooibos or red bush, increase the uptake of sugar from the blood into the muscles. You can make a nice, soothing tea with aspal to enjoy after meals.)
Use some common sense
If you have Type II diabetes, your doctor may not be ready to prescribe cinnamon for blood sugar control, since we don’t have the clinical protocols I mentioned earlier.
But there’s no reason not to spice up your hot coffee or cocoa with some cinnamon, especially at this time of year. (If you take a blood thinner drug, you should use a variety of cinnamon called Ceylon. It will give you the benefits without potential drug interaction side effects.)
And don’t worry so much about dosages since this spice can and should be used in larger, food quantities. Just scoop a teaspoon or two into your favorite beverage. You can also add this common spice to stews, meats, fruit, and vegetable dishes, particularly with other healthy spices. In a few months, this simple routine will help keep your blood sugar under control.
For all the natural approaches to lowering blood sugar as well as preventing and reversing diabetes, be on the lookout for my new online learning tool, the Integrative Protocol for Defeating Diabetes. I’ll keep you updated on its upcoming release!
P.S. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about another study on other household holiday spices and their beneficial effects on your blood sugar.
“Effects of Cinnamon Consumption on Glycemic Indicators, Advanced Glycation End Products, and Antioxidant Status in Type 2 Diabetic Patients,” Nutrients 2017, 9(9): 991
“Acute effect of Ceylon cinnamon extract on postprandial glycemia: alpha-amylase inhibition, starch tolerance test in rats, and randomized crossover clinical trial in healthy volunteers,” BMC Complement. Altern. Med. September 23, 2014; 14: 351