If you've heard that cinnamon can help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes, you have embarked upon a topic of much debate. The Mayo Clinic points out that one recent study shows a moderate effect in reducing blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes when using cinnamon extract, however another study concludes that blood sugar control in postmenopausal women doesn't improve when using cinnamon supplements. Most indications show that type 1 diabetes is not affected by cinnamon supplementation.
Contradicting studies aren't unusual when it comes to managing your health with supplements and research about cinnamon and diabetes is no exception. Regardless of the current research, if you are considering using cinnamon as a tool to lower your blood sugar levels, a quick chat with your physician is a good idea. He may give you the green light or he may suggest a different route.
In addition, you will most likely need to check your blood glucose levels more frequently to be sure that your levels are not lowered too much. Hypoglycemia, low blood glucose, can occur when using cinnamon. When combined with other agents known to cause hypoglycemia such as insulin or sulfonylureas (glipizide, amaryl, and glyburide) cinnamon can further lower the blood glucouse. If this you notice low blood sugar readings, the dosage of your diabetes medication may need to be adjusted. Once again, your physician should be consulted.
While you may be dreaming of apple pies and sticky buns, using cinnamon isn't quite so decadent. You will need to get the right type of cinnamon (Chinese cinnamon) and use it according to instructions. Hydroxychalcone is the active ingredient believed to enhance the effect of insulin. This chemical is thought to increase sensitivity to insulin, promote the uptake of glucose into cells, and promote glycogen synthesis.
In general, there aren't any serious cinnamon side effects, especially if you monitor your blood sugar levels. If used topically, cinnamon can cause contact dermatitis and skin irritation.
In addition to the effects that cinnamon has on blood sugar levels, it also has been shown to improve blood cholesterol levels with a dramatic effect on the "bad" cholesterol and a minor to minimal effect on the "good" cholesterol.
A sprinkle of cinnamon isn't quite enough. If you are going to see any benefit from adding cinnamon to your diet, you will need to use quite a bit more than a shake from the spice jar. In addition, make sure to use the right type of cinnamon: Chinese cinnamon (also known as Cinnamomun cassia). Shoot for about a 1/2 teaspoon several times per day. Add it to your cereal, coffee, tea, oatmeal, soups, and other foods.
It can take over a month before you begin seeing results however it is critical that you carefully monitor your blood glucose levels throughout the supplementation period and keep your physician informed of your intentions and any changes to your blood sugar levels.