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Diabetes with a touch of cinnamon

Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 6/26/2014, 10:38 a.m.
Dr. Gerald Deas

I have never been to a family gathering, church dinner, birthday party or dinner-dance where a high-calorie meal is not followed by a higher calorie, sweeter-than-sweet dessert. This combination of foods and desserts seems to get folks up into an “electric slide” attitude, thinking that they will burn up some of those calories, but to no avail. It would be better if they at least deserted the dessert. When you think about it, that extra “s” in dessert is that extra sugar (glucose), which may ultimately cause diabetes.

There are three types of diabetes: juvenile, adult onset and gestational. Juvenile diabetes usually requires insulin to control the level of glucose in the blood, which should be less than 100/dl. Another, more reliable blood glucose level can be determined by the hemoglobin A1c. Adult onset diabetes is best controlled with diet and exercise, however, if this is not achievable, oral medication is usually added. Gestational diabetes is due to the lack of sensitivity to insulin and is usually resolved after the birth of the baby. However, this may be a sign of a future diagnosis of diabetes.

If you wish to know more about the relationship of sugar and diabetes, I would suggest that you read the book “Sugar Blues” by William Dufty. The information in this book will turn your life around. Another book that will make you understand diabetes is “Diabetes for Dummies” by Alan L. Rubin, M.D.

Today’s article will only deal with a recent observation and long-known fact—that blood glucose levels are affected by cinnamon. It appears that this well-used condiment seemingly increases the sensitivity of insulin in controlling blood glucose.

It is important, however, that if any herb is used, it should be discussed with your physician because it may interfere with medications that you are taking. Cinnamon is an herb that is produced from the dried bark, leaves and twigs of various species of Cinnamomum, which is found in South America, India, West Indies and Indonesia. This herb has many side effects, including skin irritation, fast breathing, increased perspiration, facial flushing, shortness of breath and tongue inflammation. Again, if you are pregnant or breast feeding, this herb should not be taken internally.

More information on herbal medicines can be found in “The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines” by Charles W. Fetrow and Juan R. Avila.

It is a sin to use cinnamon if you attempt to replace your medications that are controlling your blood sugar until further studies have been done by health professionals. Please don’t go out and try to eat everything with cinnamon, because those tasty morsels are filled with high concentrations of sugar (glucose). There will be a follow-up on the relationship of the use of cinnamon in controlling blood sugar in future articles.