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Cinnamon & Hypoglycemia

By Shamala Pulugurtha

Glucose is essential for the production of energy in the body. The pancreatic hormone insulin plays an important role in the transport of glucose from the blood to liver, muscle and fat cells. Altered levels of insulin in the blood can lead to increased levels of glucose in the body, causing hyperglycemia and diabetes. Low levels of glucose lead to hypoglycemia, characterized by headaches, insomnia, hunger and anxiety. Along with certain medications, some natural foods and supplements such as cinnamon also help lower blood sugar levels and promote hypoglycemia.

About Cinnamon

Cinnamon is the striated bark of the Cinnamomum verum plant, native to parts of Asia and South America. It has been used as spice and flavoring agent for centuries. The polyphenols, terpenes and essential oils of cinnamon also give it an immense medicinal value. It has, therefore, been used to manage a variety of conditions, including ulcers, inflammation, arthritis and diabetes. Supplements are available as powders, tablets, capsules, oils and liquid extracts. The recommended dose and form vary. Your doctor may help establish a regimen that is right for you, depending on your age and overall health.

About Hypoglycemia

Intake of 6 grams of cinnamon along with meals may help lower blood sugar levels and promote gastric emptying, according to a study published in the June 2007 issue of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” Although this may help prevent or treat diabetes, it increases the risk of hypoglycemia in healthy individuals. Another study, in the spring 2007 edition of the “Journal of Army University of Medical Sciences,” affirms that cinnamon may cause hypoglycemia by significantly lowering blood sugar levels. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center also suggests that cinnamon may benefit diabetes patients by lowering blood sugar levels but, when taken along with antidiabetes medications, it can excessively lower blood sugar levels and cause hypoglycemia.

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Side Effects

Cinnamon is otherwise safe to use in moderate amounts. It may, however, lead to allergic reactions in some individuals. Apart from antidiabetic medications, cinnamon may also interfere with certain blood-thinning medications.

Precautions

You can buy cinnamon and its supplements at most natural food stores. However, you should talk to a doctor first to avoid hypoglycemia and other complications. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the cinnamon supplements sold in the United States, so make sure that the product has been tested for safety and efficacy. Try to find out more about the manufacturer and see if they have submitted the supplement to the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention for safety tests and received the USP logo upon approval.

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