Cinnamon is an aromatic, very delicious spice derived from the inner bark of Cinnamomum tree. The spice has been used in medicines since ages. It has also been used as a food preservative in older times. Cinnamon lends a complex, sweet flavor without the spike in blood sugar level. The compound cinnamaldehyde is responsible for its health benefits. According to Ayurveda, Cinnamon is an excellent herb to pacify Kapha and balance Vata and Pitta. It is known as twak in Sanskrit and daalchini in Hindi.
What are the Types of Cinnamon?
There are four types of Cinnamon being commercially used. These include Ceylon, Cassia, Saigon and Korintje but most popular are
- Ceylon and Cassia. Ceylon Cinnamon is grown in South America, Southeast Asia and West Indies.
- Cassia Cinnamon is grown in Central America, China and Indonesia.
- Ceylon Cinnamon is considered true or Mexican cinnamon. They are soft and brittle and are rolled tightly.
Cinnamon contains phytochemical that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anticancer and anti-diabetic properties.
Is Cinnamon Good For Diabetes?
- Cinnamon is a miraculous herb in preventing and fighting diabetes (Type 2 only where pancreas still produce insulin but cells become resistant to it).
- Treatment for diabetics is a lifelong blood sugar monitoring, healthy eating, regular exercise and at times insulin therapy.
- The key hormone Insulin regulates metabolism and energy use. It also transports blood sugar from the blood stream to our cells. When an individual’s cells become resistant to the effects of Insulin, it leads to Type 2 diabetes.
How Cinnamon Works?
- Cinnamon works wonder in reducing insulin resistance naturally and gradually and thus helps the hormone to do its job smoothly. The high levels of blood sugar in diabetic patients
- (Type 2 diabetes) leads to the formation of harmful substances called Advanced Glycation End products (AGE). This leads to cellular damage. Cinnamon has compounds like epicatechin, catechin and procyanindin B2 that inhibits the formation of AGEs and thus prevents further damage to the cells.
- Cinnamon stimulates the release of insulin from pancreatic cells and improves the activity of insulin receptors along with improving the glucose uptake by the cells.
How to use
- Type 2 diabetes people are advised to take at least 1 gram of cinnamon daily. It could be sprinkled on foods for added flavor or boil some cinnamon sticks in water for 20 minutes and then let it cool for some time as while cooling, the cinnamon releases all its magical compounds.
- The water will turn golden red. The tea needs to be strained and enjoyed warm. One may also mix 3 spoons of cinnamon powder to one liter of water and heat it for 20 minutes. Strain and consume the mixture daily.
Manage Blood Sugar Levels
- Cinnamon has the ability of lowering blood sugar levels naturally. It has anti diabetic properties. It decreases the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal. It interferes with the digestive enzymes which slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract.
- It blocks certain enzymes called alanines which allow glucose to be absorbed by blood. These enzymes or biological catalysts break down the complex carbohydrates into glucose, so when they are blocked or inhibited, the after-meal glucose level (postprandial) gets reduced naturally.
- A compound in cinnamon called Methylhydroxychalcone Polymer (MHCP) act on cells by mimicking insulin, which improves glucose uptake by cells. It has been shown that consuming Cinnamon can lower the fasting blood sugar levels 20 %.
Useful in cholesterol
- Cinnamon also reduces the plasma glucose levels, bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides and increases good cholesterol (HDL).
- The antioxidant properties of cinnamon help to reduce the oxidative stress on the diabetic patient’s body which happens due to side effects of anti-diabetic medicines being taken by the patients over long period of time.
Useful in Erectile Dysfunction
- Along with controlling diabetes, this spice supports sexual function in males and improves erectile dysfunction. It is one of the best remedies for erectile dysfunction in diabetic patients. The cinnamon oil is diluted with sesame oil and applied over the penis for 10 minutes before the bath to improve blood circulation and for longer erections.
Ceylon cinnamon contains less quantities of a compound called coumarin so it is the best type of cinnamon for diabetic patients.
Useful in cardiovascular disease
- One of the complications of diabetes is cardiovascular disease. This can be averted with regular intake of cinnamon in small quantities. The compound called Cinnamaldehyde stops the progress of hypertension or high blood pressure in Type 2 diabetic patients.
Diabetic patients are prone to many metabolic problems due to their existing conditions or as a result of the medicines they are taking. They may get inflammation in various parts of their body. The anti-inflammatory effects of cinnamon helps to reduce pain and swelling.
Useful in Alzheimer’s disease
- Cinnamon is also known to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease often associated with diabetes. The cinnamon extract decreases the ability of proteins like beta amyloid and tau to form plaques and tangles leading to Alzheimer (type 3 diabetes).
How to Take Cinnamon
- It is advised to take Cinnamon after consulting with the physician as they can provide the best combination according to one’s body constitution. Cinnamon might interact with other medicines, so it should be taken carefully under doctor’s supervision.
- Cinnamon can be added in food, smoothies and tea or may be taken as cinnamon essential oil in foods. Cinnamon goes well with peanut butter and sugar free jab on toast for diabetic patients. It can be added in oatmeal for a healthy breakfast.
- One may take cassia cinnamon in capsule forms (500 mg) twice a day.
- The recommended and effective dose to be taken by a diabetic patient should not exceed 2 teaspoons a day.
- People with liver problems should avoid taking Cinnamon in excess. Some people are also allergic to the compound cinnamaldehyde which can cause mouth sores and breathing problems.
- Consuming too much cinnamon may lead to a condition called hypoglycemia (Low blood glucose) wherein the person feel tired and dizzy. Eating dry cinnamon may permanently damage lungs.
- Cinnamon should be used by all in small quantities to prevent elevated glucose levels and blood lipid levels. A healthy diet with an active lifestyle helps to keep one fit and free from illness.