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Diabetes Medication

Which Cinnamon?

It matters which type of cinnamon you use to help control your diabetes. Some types are more expensive than others. And some types might taste better than others to you, although my taste buds aren’t sensitive enough to tell much difference. But all types of cinnamon can reduce blood glucose levels.

The wave of interest in cinnamon as herbal medicine started half a dozen years ago when U.S. Agriculture Research Service scientists found that its most active compound – methylhydroxy chalcone polymer – increased glucose metabolism 20-fold in a test tube assay of fat cells. The researchers, led by chemist Richard A. Anderson, tested 50 plant extracts and found that none of them came close to this compound’s effect on glucose metabolism.

When the Agriculture Research Service announced its findings, I interviewed Dr. Anderson. At that time he told me that they tried all species of cinnamon and they all worked similarly. “We also tried numerous commercial bottles of cinnamon and they also worked.”

That’s why a March 5 article in a Central Ohio newspaper called the Coshocton Tribune surprised me. Verne Mounts, the director of pharmacy operations for 11 Buehler’s stores in Ohio, wrote that “the cinnamon we are most accustomed to using as a spice is not the same cinnamon used to treat type 2 diabetes….another type of cinnamon, Cinnamomum cassia (Chinese cinnamon), has only been found to benefit type 2 diabetics.”

I was so surprised that I called Dr. Mounts and asked him if there were new research on cinnamon that I didn’t know about. There isn’t.

Dr. Mounts told me that he was thinking about cinnamon capsules. He said that the only brand of cinnamon capsules that he was aware of used Chinese cinnamon.

Actually, a quick Google search pointed me to several brands of cinnamon capsules. But they didn’t indicate what type of cinnamon they used.

Even so, I wonder if it makes sense to be taking as much cinnamon as you can get in capsule form. Dr. Anderson told me that we can take up to 1 teaspoon daily and not more, unless we boil the cinnamon in water and discard the solid cinnamon. That’s because one of the flavorings in cinnamon, which is carcinogenic in animal studies and might affect us in large doses, is lipid soluble.

Besides, most of us take enough pills already. Why disguise cinnamon’s great taste when you use it? Cinnamon is a twofer. It’s one of those rare things that both taste great and can help control blood glucose.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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