Cinnamon & Chromium for Diabetes

Cinnamon, a spice derived from the bark of several trees of the genus Cinnamomum, has garnered attention for its purported ability to lower blood sugar. Chromium, a mineral used by the body in minute quantities known as micrograms, is also widely used as a natural method to regulate blood sugar levels and to help with diabetes management. Consult your doctor before using cinnamon or chromium to treat diabetes.

Non-insulin Mechanism

Cinnamon lowers blood sugar in ways that are unrelated to insulin, according to a study published in the 2010 issue of the journal "Bioscience Biotechnology and Biochemistry." In this study on laboratory animals with Type 1 diabetes, 30 mg per kg body weight of cinnamon per day for 22 days reduced blood sugar levels and kidney stress 1. The researchers observed that cinnamon worked by increasing glucose transporter molecules on muscle and fat cells and by increasing energy expenditure in cells. The results of this preliminary animal study may be prove helpful, along with further research to confirm the results on humans, in distinguishing how cinnamon can best be used in the treatment of diabetes in humans.

Antioxidant Effects

Antioxidant compounds known as procyanidin oligomers are responsible for the blood sugar-regulating effects of cinnamon, according to a study published in the February 2011 issue of the journal "Phytomedicine." In the study on laboratory animals, doses of 200 mg and 300 mg of cinnamon per kg body weight significantly improved the ability of insulin-resistant liver cells to absorb and utilize glucose. The researchers concluded that the results of their preliminary animal study indicate that cinnamon may be able to improve insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar levels in humans with Type 2 diabetes. Further research on the blood sugar-regulating effects of cinnamon in humans is warranted.

Combination Therapy

The journal "Diabetes Care" published a study in its August 2006 issue that reported beneficial effects of chromium picolinate on the management of Type 2 diabetes. In this study, participants with Type 2 diabetes took a diabetes medication along with 1,000 micrograms of chromium picolinate for six months. The combination therapy showed less weight gain, significantly better insulin sensitivity and improved lipid levels compared to a group that took only the diabetes drug. The researchers concluded that chromium picolinate supplementation is an effective means of managing diabetes, along with drug therapy, for some Type 2 diabetics.

Chromium Malate

A form of chromium known as chromium malate improved blood glucose control in a study on laboratory animals published in the December 2010 issue of the journal "Biological Trace Elements Research." In this study, doses of chromium malate from 2.85 mg to 17 mg per kg body weight for two weeks showed better absorption and utilization than chromium chloride -- another form of chromium -- in glucose-stabilize ability and ability to lower lipid levels and liver glycogen levels. Additionally, the researchers found chromium malate to exhibit no toxicity in this preliminary animal study and concluded that chromium malate may, with further research, prove beneficial in the management of diabetes in humans.