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How Sweet It Is! Cinnamon, Spices and Diabetes. Catherine M. Champagne, PhD, RD Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Focus of presentation:. Cinnamon Health benefits of cinnamon R esearch A little is good, is more better? How to incorporate cinnamon in your diet

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How Sweet It Is! Cinnamon, Spices and Diabetes

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how sweet it is cinnamon spices and diabetes

How Sweet It Is!Cinnamon, Spices and Diabetes

Catherine M. Champagne, PhD, RD

Pennington Biomedical Research Center

focus of presentation
Focus of presentation:
  • Cinnamon
    • Health benefits of cinnamon
    • Research
    • A little is good, is more better?
    • How to incorporate cinnamon in your diet
  • Additional foods of interest (spices, herbs, other)
  • Summary
  • 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
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:
    • heart rate
    • blood pressure
    • body temperature

1 tsp cinnamon = 2.6 grams

  • Study of subjects taking 2-6 grams per day:
    • Nearly all with diabetes showed substantial improvement
    • Connection 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:
    • Response to insulin more efficient
    • Contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants
    • Anti-inflammatory and can help to prevent cancer
how much is too much
How much is too much?
  • May be dangerous if taken in large quantities over a long period of time
    • Some 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.
    • Two 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 one-quarter to one-half of a teaspoon before meals.
    • Cassia 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
Adding cinnamon to your diet
  • Add a cinnamon stick to:
    • Tea
    • Coffee
    • Apple cider or juice
    • Cocoa
  • Sprinkle cinnamon on:
    • Oatmeal
    • Yogurt
    • Baked apples or applesauce
    • Toast (cinnamon toast)
    • Pudding
more recipes and information on cinnamon research
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:
  • <-- has really good, understandable information.
other spices and foods that have been studied for diabetes
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
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
Ginseng (Panaxquinquefolius or Panax ginseng)
  • Used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
  • May have possible hypoglycemic effects:
    • Decreasing rate of carbohydrate absorption
    • Increasing blood sugar transport and storage
    • Increasing insulin secretion
  • Clinical trials with American ginseng but short term and few subjects.
ginseng panax quinquefolius
Ginseng (Panaxquinquefolius)
  • Known side effects of large doses and long-term use
    • Diarrhea
    • Insomnia
    • Nervousness
    • Nausea and vomiting
  • Until longer-term studies are conducted, cannot firmly recommend its use at this time.
fenugreek seed trigonella foenum graecum
Fenugreek Seed(Trigonellafoenum-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:
    • diarrhea and gas
    • may absorb oral medications
    • 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
Garlic (Alliumsativum)
  • 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
Bitter melon (Momordicacharantia)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
Nopal or Prickly Pear Cactus(Opuntiastreptacantha)
  • 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
Ivy Gourd (Cocciniagrandis)
  • 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 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).
so what have we learned
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?
    • Move to India, China, Africa, or somewhere else where these have been used traditionally to treat diabetes!!