Cinnamon Herbal Remedies for Blood Sugar Imbalance
One of the most renowned of spices, cinnamon is made from the aromatic, flavorful, and spicy bark of several tropical trees, especially Cinnamomum verum, or true cinnamon.
Cinnamon has been revered as a spice in foods and drinks for at least 3,000 years or more, adding significantly to confidence in its safety. Besides adding flavor to drinks, deserts, and spicy main dishes like curries, cinnamon has been favored in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Ayurveda (east Indian system of medicine), and in western herbalism. Cinnamon is considered warm and spicy, “moving the blood” to help relieve pain, and to invigorate the systems and functions of the body, such as digestion, especially for the elderly.
In the last few years, cinnamon has garnered significant interest for reducing blood sugar and balancing cholesterol in type 2 diabetes, when taken as a dietary supplement, tea, and even added regularly to foods. Although its efficacy for this indication is not absolutely proven scientifically, because of its good safety profile and taste, cinnamon may be a worthwhile addition to preventative measures, in conjunction with a program to help keep blood sugar and cholesterol within balance, along with diet, weight-control, and exercise.
How to take Cinnamon to Help Normalize Blood Sugar
Powders and Teas vs. Capsules and Tablets
Avoid powdered cinnamon bark in bottles that are sold as spices, as powdering herbs can expose them to oxygen and moisture that will quickly degrade active compounds. The two best forms of cinnamon for blood sugar balance are dried, coarsely cut and sifted bark for use as a tea, and capsules containing a 4:1 or 5:1 dried and powdered concentrated extract of the water-soluble parts of the bark—in other words a dried tea. No other solvents than water should be used in the manufacturing process, such as alcohol, because at least some of the most important active compounds have good solublity in water.
Typical Dosage of for Blood Sugar Imbalances
The best dose of a cut and sifted dried bark for tea is 1-2 tsps (1 to 4 grams).
For capsules and tablets, take 150 to 250 mg of the 20:1 extract powder, morning and night after meals. Take 500 mg (one “00” cap), twice daily of a 5:1 extract powder, or take 1 capsule or tablet containing 1,000 mg (1 gm) morning and evening.
How often to take it
Take the cinnamon product or cup of tea twice daily after meals.
How much to buy at each time (weekly, monthly need)
If you are using cinnamon tea regularly, buy a pound at a time of cut or shredded bark, organic is preferred. A number of tea companies sell bags of organic cinnamon tea [link to suppliers]. If you are using capsules or tablets, a 60-count bottle is common, which will last about a month.
Where to buy supplements
Cinnamon tea is best purchased through a store that sells Chinese herbs (found in many Chinatowns, such as Grant Street in San Francisco) in bulk, by the pound, or online through a high-quality herb supplier [see resources list]. Capsules and tablets can be purchased in health food stores, in pharmacies, and online.
How to make Cinnamon Bark preparations
Make a decoction by adding two teaspoons of the bark to 2 ½ cups of water, and simmer on low heat for about 30-40 minutes. Let the brew steep for another 15-20 minutes and then strain and store in a jar for use throughout the day. Enough tea for several days can be made at one time by doubling or tripling the amounts given here. Store excess tea in the refrigerator, and then gently heat for consumption. Drink one cup of the tea in the morning and in the evening anytime, but preferably after meals.
Things to know when taking Cinnamon for Diabetes
The safety profile of cinnamon is very good because of its long use as a tea and flavoring spice in many cuisines around the world. Be sure to not confuse the water-based preparations that are useful for blood sugar balance, such as teas, and tablets, and capsules that contain dried tea concentrates from the essential oil and solvent-extracted products containing the oleoresin of cinnamon. These contain the essential oil and the very spicy oleoresin, which can irritate the stomach and digestive tract when taken to excess.
For the water-based extracts and teas, avoid during pregnancy.
None known for water-based preparations, however, discussing the use of cinnamon products along with blood sugar medications with your health care providers can add extra safety and is to be recommended.
Very large amounts of cinnamon tea or dried teas in capsules and tablets (the equivalent of over 10 grams a day) should be avoided.
Good herbal combinations with Cinnamon Bark
Other flavorful herbs such as orange peel can be added to taste. Other blood sugar-balancing herbs such as green tea can be combined for increased action.
Several studies have shown that the blood sugar-regulating effects of cinnamon water-based teas or extracts vary according to the user profile. People who are already taking blood sugar-lowering medications such as metformin may not experience any benefits (Blevins et al, 2007). Other studies show that 1-3 grams a day can lower blood glucose and cholesterol in human volunteers (Khan et al, 2003), even in patients taking medications, and even after four months (Mang et al, 2006).