Q. I tried making a cinnamon extract with hot water to help with blood sugar as described in your column. I ended up with a gooey glob. Please provide exact proportions of spice to water so I don't have to deal with the mess.
A. Research shows that ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon before a meal can reduce the rise in blood sugar after eating. We worry, however, that the spice could contain coumarin, a compound that occurs naturally in cinnamon. Regular intake of coumarin could damage the liver.
We suggested putting ¼ or ½ teaspoon cinnamon in a paper coffee filter and pouring a cup of hot water over it. The resulting liquid contains the active ingredient without coumarin.
One reader has a slightly different technique: “I put about 2 teaspoons cinnamon in my coffee filter and then put my coffee grounds on top so I get the benefits of the cinnamon and it cuts any bitterness from the coffee. I turned all my family and friends on to this and my mother-in-law was able to go off her diabetes medicine that she'd been on for years!”
We imagine that two teaspoons of cinnamon is enough for a whole pot of coffee. Anyone who uses cinnamon to lower blood sugar should be under medical supervision and should monitor blood glucose regularly.