You’ve no doubt heard that type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic levels in this country and many others. That means that millions more people have pre-diabetes, blood sugar that is headed in the wrong direction though it doesn’t yet qualify as outright diabetes. There are ways to reverse this condition. In fact, you might be able to lower blood sugar with cinnamon.
How to Lower Blood Sugar Naturally:
Q. My doctor says I have pre-diabetes. I have read your columns about the advantages of Ceylon cinnamon for people with diabetes. Would this help me with my pre-diabetes?
Ceylon cinnamon is hard to find. Would Saigon cinnamon work as well? Are there other natural herbs or spices I should consider taking?
Which Cinnamon Helps Lower Blood Sugar?
A. Cinnamon and other spices and herbs rich in plant polyphenols can help control blood sugar and insulin spikes after meals (Bozzetto et al, Diabetologia, July 2015). One placebo-controlled trial found that a supplement containing cassia cinnamon, chromium and carnosine successfully lowered fasting blood sugar in people with pre-diabetes (Liu et al, PLOS One, Sep. 25, 2015). Polyphenols, compounds found in cinnamon as well as tea, coffee, grapes, wine, cocoa and berries, slow the absorption of glucose (sugar) from the digestive tract and stimulate insulin secretion (Kim et al, Nutrients, Jan. 5, 2016).
Most studies of cinnamon to lower blood sugar have used ordinary cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) rather than the more expensive Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylonicum). Cassia cinnamon is the kind usually found on grocery store shelves. Saigon cinnamon is closely related to cassia cinnamon.
Must It Be Ceylon Cinnamon to Lower Blood Sugar?
You shouldn’t need Ceylon cinnamon to get the blood sugar benefits. If you take either cassia or Saigon cinnamon, though, we suggest a water extract rather than the powdered spice. The reason is coumarin.
What Is Coumarin?
Both cassia cinnamon and Saigon cinnamon contain coumarin, a natural compound that can harm the liver when taken in large amounts. Coumarin is not water soluble, however. That’s why you can use a water-based extract without fear. Look for it as a supplement, or make your own by steeping cinnamon sticks in hot water.
Other Spices That Help Control Blood Sugar:
There are a number of other spices that can be helpful. They include caraway, cumin, ginger, fenugreek and turmeric. You can learn much more about these spices and their beneficial effects from our 200-page book, Spice Up Your Health. It is available at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
It is important to monitor your blood sugar levels very carefully. Your doctor will want to keep track of your progress, so a daily diary with glucose levels will enable her to make sure you are within normal limits. If natural products together with exercise and a low-carb diet don’t work, you may need medication. You can learn more about type 2 diabetes and how to treat it with drugs and non-drug approaches in our Guide to Managing Diabetes.