How Sweet It Is! Cinnamon, Spices and Diabetes Catherine M. Champagne, Ph. D, RD Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Focus of presentation: Cinnamon ØHealth benefits of cinnamon ØResearch ØA little is good, is more better? ØHow to incorporate cinnamon in your diet Additional foods of interest (spices, herbs, other) Summary
Cinnamon Native to Sri Lanka Dried inner bark of a variety of evergreen tree In ancient times, more precious than gold Stick or powdered
Benefits of cinnamon Can decrease high fasting glucose by making body cells more sensitive to insulin As little at ¼ teaspoon can reduce blood sugar significantly Evidence that cinnamon slows digestion, which can affect the blood sugar rise after a meal May also reduce: Øheart rate Øblood pressure Øbody temperature
1 tsp cinnamon = 2. 6 grams Study of subjects taking 2 -6 grams per day: ØNearly all with diabetes showed substantial improvement ØConnection between cinnamon & diabetes was there because when cinnamon stopped, blood sugar levels began rising So cinnamon can be regular part of lifestyle and with additional benefits: ØResponse to insulin more efficient ØContains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants ØAnti-inflammatory and can help to prevent cancer
How much is too much? May be dangerous if taken in large quantities over a long period of time ØSome cinnamon (Chinese or cassia cinnamon) contains a compound, coumarin. In excess, this can harm the liver of sensitive people. It also may interact with blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin) to increase the risk of bleeding. ØTwo tablespoons of cinnamon daily is a very big dose. You should have your liver enzymes checked when you see your doctor. People who use cinnamon to help lower blood sugar take onequarter to one-half of a teaspoon before meals. ØCassia cinnamon is not labeled with the amount of coumarin it contains, making it hard to know what dose one is getting. Consuming ¼ - ½ teaspoons per day is not harmful
Adding cinnamon to your diet Add a cinnamon stick to: ØTea ØCoffee ØApple cider or juice ØCocoa Sprinkle cinnamon on: ØOatmeal ØYogurt ØBaked apples or applesauce ØToast (cinnamon toast) ØPudding
More recipes and information on cinnamon research For additional recipes, make sure you get a handout with these. And for more information about cinnamon, visit the following website: http: //care. diabetesjournals. org/cgi /content/full/26/12/3215 <-- has really good, understandable information.
Other spices and foods that have been studied for diabetes Russian tarragon Ginseng Fenugreek seed Gymnema sylvestre Garlic Nopal or prickly pear cactus Ivy gourd Aloe vera
Russian Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) Common medicinal and culinary herb. An extract, Tarralin, may work by blocking an enzyme which would improve insulin efficiency. Studies in mice have been promising. This is just beginning to be investigated in humans, so it cannot now be recommended…. stay tuned!!!
Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius or Panax ginseng) Used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. May have possible hypoglycemic effects: ØDecreasing rate of carbohydrate absorption ØIncreasing blood sugar transport and storage ØIncreasing insulin secretion Clinical trials with American ginseng but short term and few subjects.
Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) Known side effects of large doses and long-term use ØDiarrhea ØInsomnia ØNervousness ØNausea and vomiting Until longer-term studies are conducted, cannot firmly recommend its use at this time.
Fenugreek Seed (Trigonella foenum-graecum) Member of pea family. Traditionally used in India to treat diabetes – insulin like effect. Widely cultivated in other parts of the world for treatment of diabetes. To date, trials with humans have been small and are inconclusive. Common problems: Ø diarrhea and gas Ø may absorb oral medications Ø blood thinning potential
Gymnema Sylvestre Herb from tree native to Africa and India, long used to treat diabetes. May improve blood sugar uptake in tissues, increase insulin secretion and increase the number of cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Limited research on poorly controlled scientific studies make it hard to recommend this herb!!
Garlic (Allium sativum) Used as a medicinal herb for centuries. Compounds in garlic (allicins) may increase secretion or slow degradation of insulin or improve glucose storage ability in the body. For diabetes, there are few studies and findings are conflicting. Safety not an issue, but jury is still out on the true benefits!!
Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) aka “vegetable insulin” Grows in tropical and subtropical climates (Asia, Africa, South America); widely used in folk medicine as a remedy for diabetes Clinical trials have shown a moderate blood sugar-lowering effect. Small studies, perhaps dubious value But… hard to find and bitter! May have gastrointestinal discomfort.
Nopal or Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia streptacantha) Commonly used by people of Mexican descent for glucose control. Part of soups, salads, sandwiches and blended in drinks in traditional Mexican diet. High pectin may regulate blood glucose. May have potential, but longer-term clinical trials needed. Some mild gastrointestinal upset, but appears to be well tolerated.
Ivy Gourd (Coccinia grandis) Used in India to treat diabetes, long history of use; has low glycemic index. May mimic insulin and may suppress activity of enzymes in glucose production. While some studies have been promising, they are few. There is a need for more studies with more subjects before we can recommend supplementation.
Aloe Vera Aloe juice widely used in India and on the Arabian peninsula to treat diabetes. Contains a fiber that may drive down blood sugar and make cells more sensitive to insulin. Do not take if you have any sort of intestinal condition (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, etc. ). More information needed before recommendations can be made (i. e. , clinical trials with scientific integrity).
For more information…….
So what have we learned? It’s all about science and finding the science to back up the claims. What does it take? Long term studies, lots of subjects, strictly controlled. Can we try any of these options presented? Sure, just make certain that the amounts consumed are not going to harm you in any way!! Any other ideas? Ø Move to India, China, Africa, or somewhere else where these have been used traditionally to treat diabetes!!