Tuesday, March 20, 2007


The Benefits of Cassia Cinnamon and Oolong Tea

I ran out of cinnamon capsules last week. My numbers had been running around 120-130 something in the morning. That's somewhat high, but not too bad. Like I've said in past posts, under 100 is ideal. Partially, it's due to Dawn Phenomenon, which I wrote about here. I could probably do a little more work on what I eat and increase my exercising, too. Last night, my sugar was 160. This morning it was 159. I think it's because I've been too lazy to go buy cinnamon.

In December 2003, Diabetes Care published an article on a Pakistani study about the effects of cinnamon on type 2 diabetics. In the study, 30 women and 30 men were broken into 6 groups. Of that, half were given varying amount of cassia (cinnamomum cassia), otherwise known as Chinese cinnamon, and the other half were given placebos. The first 3 groups were given 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon daily. After 40 days, all three levels of cinnamon ingested reduced the mean fasting serum glucose (18–29%), triglyceride (23–30%), LDL cholesterol (7–27%), and total cholesterol(12–26%) levels, with no significant changes in the placebo groups. Changes in HDL cholesterol were insignificant.

Cassia has a long history as both a spice and medicine. It is the inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree native to southern China and mainland Southeast Asia west to Myanmar. Medicinally, it has been widely used to treat digestive problems, but the most intriguing of all is in the treatment of diabetes. Scientists have discovered that it has insulin-like properties and its active ingredient, called polyphenols (tannins, lignins, and flavonoids), can boost levels of proteins which are crucial to promoting normal insulin signaling processes, a healthy inflammatory response, and increasing glucose transportation throughout the body. Tannins are present in red wines. That may be one of the reasons why small amounts of red wine can be of benefit to diabetics. Cassia might also lower blood pressure, making it potentially useful to those suffering from hypertension. The USDA has three ongoing studies that are monitoring the blood pressure effect.

It seems like a relatively benign form of treatment, although risk factors are always an issue. There haven't been any long term studies done on cassia to make a firm determination. There is concern about the potential for toxic buildup of the fat-soluble components and some European health agencies have warned against consuming high amounts of cassia, due to a toxic component called coumarin. Although not present in large amounts, coumarin has been found to be moderately toxic to the liver and kidneys. It is where warfarin (Coumadin®) is derived (synthetically), so it may have ever so slight anticoagulant properties, as well. I wouldn't worry about it. People have been eating cinnamon for thousands of years and I've never heard of anyone dying from it or causing any type of harm.

There are various forms of cinnamon on the market. You want to buy cinnamon cassia (cassia cinnamomum), a close cousin of true cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, synonym C. zeylanicum), which is native to India and Sri Lanka. If you can't find it, I think regular cinnamon will do in a pinch. One is just better than the other.

I strongly recommend all diabetics talk to their primary care physician and/or endocrinologist about cinnamon. I recommend this treatment, unless you are allergic to it. If you decide it might help, I'd start with 500 mg per day, gradually increasing, if necessary. I usually take 3,000 grams per day. Remember, don't expect overnight success. The original study took 40 days. Those on insulin must be extra cautious because they may have to reduce the amount they take or at least monitor their glucose more often during the day at first.

Another article in Diabetes Care, in June of 2003, suggests oolong tea, a type of tea that is partially fermented during processing that proved to lower plasma glucose in a test of 20 type 2 diabetics who also took hyperglycemic drugs. They were given 1,500 milliliters per day for 30 days. Their glucose fell from 229 to 162 on average. A group not given oolong tea, but water instead, showed no change. Bear in mind, green tea is not fermented at all and black tea is fully fermented. The only problem with oolong tea is trying to find it. It is imperative it comes from China. Also, 1,500 ml is a little over 5 cups, so I'd think about brewing a nice big pot and turning it into iced tea.

You may also find this article helpful. This particular study reviews herbs and dietary supplements for glycemic control in diabetes. Please remember, you can always ask me questions. I will do everything in my power to find the right answers. I'm not a doctor or anything, but I learn easily and well and I know how to weed out improper information.

Well, I'm off to the health store. I want my BG level to go down.


  1. Spirits (alcohol) reduces blood sugar too but I like your approach.


  2. Alcohol is not the right approach, any more than a Big Mac will satiate your appetite.

  3. Hi Marinade Dave!

    I just got back from rehab...again, and it's good to be back on line.

    You sound like your a docter. I recently had some bad experience w/docs and don't like them now.

    Are you a doc? be honest.


  4. Welcome back, Stephanie!

    No, I'm not a doctor, so you can trust me. My examinations are less stressful and intimidating than what real doctors do. Honestly. I would make sure you thoroughly enjoy yourself. Why don't you send me a picture of yourself?

    I will do everything I can to help.