Q. I want to pass along a tip that I’ve been using for 20 years. I put about 2 teaspoons of cinnamon in my coffee filter and then put coffee grounds on top. 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 the diabetes medicine that she’d been on for years!
A. We don’t advocate that anyone go off diabetes medication (or any other prescription drugs) without medical consultation. It is encouraging to learn that your mother-in-law had such good results. Many people find that careful attention to diet and exercise is also helpful in minimizing the amount of medication needed.
For years, researchers have been investigating the use of cinnamon to keep blood sugar from rising too quickly after a meal. In a three-month placebo-controlled trial, cinnamon capsules significantly reduced HbA1c in type 2 diabetics (Diabetic Medicine, Oct., 2010). This is a measure of blood sugar over several weeks, not just at one point in time.
We discuss the details of using cinnamon and other non-drug approaches to help control blood sugar, along with the pros and cons of medications, in our brand-new Guide to Managing Diabetes.
Other approaches to help control blood sugar naturally include fenugreek and turmeric (Indian spices), nopal cactus tea or extract and vinegar at the close of a meal.
A few years ago we received this message from a physician:
“I am a family practitioner and want to share an herbal remedy with you. A 60-year-old male Hispanic diabetic patient has had trouble controlling his blood sugar. Despite intensive diet changes and a prescription for Glucovance, his blood sugar still ran in the 160’s to 180’s.
“One day he came in with his diary showing blood sugars of 90 to 100 consistently. I asked what he was doing differently and he said in a low voice, ‘I got me a new girlfriend. She’s from Mexico, and she makes me tea from nopalito (prickly pear) cactus. She has me drink it three times a day. Now my sugars are doing better.'”
And here’s an interesting story:
“When I was pregnant I had gestational diabetes and although its a little different from regular type 2 I had to be very careful about my sugar levels. I used nopal my whole pregnancy to help regulate and stabilize. I get my nopal from www.chosen-foods.com – its the only place I’ve found it in a reasonable price that I can use in all my meals.”
“I was diagnosed as type 2 in March of last year. I asked my doctor about cinnamon. He has a PHD in Nutrition and practices Integrative Medicine so he knows alot about alternative medicine and uses it regularly in his practice. He told me that table cinnamon is a carcinogin so not to take it. The cinnamon from Ceylon is safer.”
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE:
He’s right that just eating the powdered cinnamon you buy from the store could result in too much coumarin that could damage the liver. Instead, make yourself cinnamon tea with hot water, discarding the cinnamon sludge or cinnamon sticks. Ceylon cinnamon is fine as a spice, but it does not have the same effect on preventing blood sugar spikes after a meal.
If you would like to learn more about the ins and outs of some of these natural approaches, we suggest you download our brand new Guide to Managing Diabetes ($2). You will get the inside scoop on diabetes medications and get details about the non-drug approaches mentioned above. The great thing about monitoring blood glucose carefully is that you can tell when diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors help improve control of diabetes.
Please share your own experiences with blood sugar management below.