Cinnamon and Diabetes

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First so explain what diabetes is.

At its core, diabetes is a disease of sugar (glucose) management. Insulin, secreted by the pancreas, allows cells to use glucose. When the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin,  it’s called Type 1 diabetes. This is an autoimmune disease that strikes early in life, and was a death sentence until insulin was discovered.

When the pancreas can produce insulin, but the amount is insufficient, or when there’s a problem with the uptake of insulin into cells, it’s termed type 2 diabetes.

90% of all diabetes is type 2. Typically a disease of older adults, type 2 diabetes can potentially be treated without drugs of any kind, but success rates are low and medication is eventually advisable. There’s also gestational diabetes, a disease of pregnancy, and prediabetes, where blood sugars are elevated, and diabetes is an expected future diagnosis.

For dealing with diabetes a lifestyle modification is the most beneficial, this would include working out, loosing weight, keeping an eye on your diet.

Evidence for Cinnamon

Reports of diabetes go back to 1552 BCE, yet the ability to effectively measure any diabetes treatment only goes back a few decades. A study in  2003, when a study from Alam Khan suggested several grams of cassia cinnamon per day could lower fasting blood glucose. Khan randomized Type 2 diabetes to 1g, 3g, or 6g of cinnamon for 40 days. All three groups improved their fasting blood glucose, and blood lipid levels, but there was no effect on A1C.

Like trials with any other supplement or herbal product, the primary question we must answer is “What exactly was studied?”. The cinnamon you have in your kitchen may be a single species of plant or a mix of different cultivars. Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamommum verum) is more commonly found in the West. Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromaticum) is the version of cinnamon that’s been studied in trials. The chemicalhydroxychalcone has been identified as a potential active ingredient, which is believed to modify the sensitivity of cells to insulin, enhancing their uptake. If that’s the true mechanism of action, then it would work in a manner similar to that of the drugs Avandia, Actos, and metformin (Glucophage). Given the active ingredient (or ingredients) have not yet been definitively isolated, the issue of studying cinnamon is problematic. There’s no way to assess the potency of any batch, which complicates any evaluation. And that may be a reason why the research with cinnamon is inconsistent and largely disappointing.

Although studies have provided mixed results about the use of cinnamon when dealing with diabetes it should in now way be used as a substitutes to medications and habit changing. Medications are often cheap and in most cases, work comparatively with cinnamon.

That said,  cinnamon can be used in conjunction with a healthy life style and self-management but use at our own risk.

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