Women with PCOS should be aware of the possible value of cinnamon, a spice that has traditionally been used for type 2 diabetes, lack of menstruation and a number of other health problems.
There have been a number of studies over the past few years showing that the extract of cinnamon has multiple health benefits. It may help to reduce the risk of developing these health problems:
This extract appears to help the body control blood sugar and to reduce insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the inability to efficiently utilize the hormone insulin. Insulin resistance is thought to be the #1 cause of polycystic ovary syndrome as well as diabetes.
In an interesting study from Columbia University, a group of 15 women with PCOS were divided into two groups: one group took cinnamon extract while the other group took a placebo.
This study suggests that you should think about adding this spice to your diet, and possibly you would benefit by taking cinnamon extract.
In another study, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology department at Columbia University analyzed a group of 45 PCOS patients. Half of them were given cinnamon supplements while the other half received a placebo.
The 45 women were randomized, 26 women completed 3 months of the study, and 17 women completed the entire 6 months of the study.
During the 6 month study, menstrual cycles were more frequent in patients taking cinnamon compared with patients taking placebo. In patients taking cinnamon, menstrual cycles improved from baseline, yet did not improve for women taking placebo.
In this study, insulin resistance and male hormone levels did not change in either group.
If you can reduce insulin resistance, you have taken a giant step toward solving your PCOS problems. Cinnamon may help you in this effort
The US Dept. of Agriculture recently released a report extolling the virtues of this extract.
The article said: "Human studies involving control subjects and subjects with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and polycystic ovary syndrome all show beneficial effects of whole cinnamon and/or aqueous extracts of cinnamon on glucose [blood sugar], insulin, insulin sensitivity, lipids [blood fats], antioxidant status, blood pressure, lean body mass, and gastric emptying."
In addition, the article suggested that this spice may possibly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's and cancer.
The researchers concluded: "In summary, components of cinnamon may be important in the alleviation and prevention of the signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular and related diseases." This is relevant to you because PCOS has characteristics similar to metabolic syndrome, and it carries a higher risk of developing diabetes.
Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome have a higher risk of developing diabetes and have issues with keeping their blood sugar levels normal.
Insulin dysfunction, combined with a poor diet, creates abnormally high blood sugar levels.
Since blood sugar problems and insulin resistance are common in both PCOS and diabetes, we might assume that if cinnamon is helpful for diabetes, it may also be helpful for PCOS.
Recent evidence suggests that it is something that can be helpful if you have issues with high blood glucose, insulin resistance or being overweight.
Medical studies of people with insulin resistance problems (such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes) have shown that when they take cinnamon extract for a sustained period of time, they experience lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, reduced body fat percentage and weight loss.
In one study of 60 diabetics, taking cinnamon 1, 3, or 6 grams/day for 40 days lowered:
The researchers suggest "that the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases."
Another more recent study of 79 diabetics (average age 63) found that a cinnamon extract moderately reduced blood sugar levels over the course of 4 months. The people were divided into either a treatment group, which was given 3 capsules of a cinnamon extract (112 milligrams per capsule) daily (equivalent to approximately 3 grams of cinnamon powder per day), or a placebo group, which was given placebo capsules.
Individuals who consumed the extract experienced a 10.3% decrease in blood sugar levels. Those whose fasting glucose levels were higher at the start of the study experienced greater benefit from supplementation with cinnamon.
The results of this study suggest that diabetics, especially those with poor blood sugar control, may benefit from cinnamon supplementation.
The authors point out that using the extract rather than the powder may be safer since the aqueous extract does not contain the volatile oils to which some people may be allergic.
A new study of rats by the USDA has shown that cinnamon favorably helps to regulate the genes involved in insulin resistance and creation of fat.
Thames Valley University in the UK recently reviewed eight clinical trials regarding the use of cinnamon for diabetes or insulin resistance, which is a blood sugar and insulin disorder. In both diabetics and non-diabetics, this spice was found to lower blood sugar levels or dampen the rise in blood sugar after eating a meal. However, some of the studies were inconclusive.
Do you eat a lot of carbs? If so, at least you could add cinnamon.
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome commonly have an excessive increase in insulin after eating a meal containing carbohydrates. The excessive insulin causes a multitude of problems and throws other hormones into disarray.
We don't recommend eating any starchy refined carbohydrate foods such as baked goods, breakfast cereal, white rice, etc. These foods cause a big uptick in blood sugar levels, which triggers an over-response of insulin.
However, if you do eat such foods, you could add cinnamon. A recent study from Malmo University Hospital in Sweden has shown that consuming at least 3 grams of cinnamon with a carbohydrate meal dampens the insulin response after the meal is consumed.
If sprinkling 3 grams of this spice on your food does not appeal to you, you could take a high potency cinnamon extract instead. Or, it can be made as a tea, 1 teaspoon per cup. The tea can be added to curries, or stirred into a smoothie. You can purchase empty gelatin caps and fill them with inexpensive but effective bulk cinnamon while you watch TV or otherwise relax.
There is no "correct" dose for everyone. The possible dose will also depend on the form of cinnamon used.
For type 2 diabetes, 1 to 6 grams (1 teaspoon = 4.75 grams) of powdered cinnamon daily for 40 days have been used in medical studies.
If the product is a cinnamon extract, a dose of 200 - 300 milligrams can be considered.
A high quality patented cinnamon extract in 125 milligram capsules is available from our online Nutritional Supplements store.
The extract is considered to be quite safe when used at recommended dosages. It's advisable to check with your doctor if you intend to take it while pregnant or breastfeeding; there is insufficient information to judge its safety in these situations.
Since cinnamon can lower your blood sugar, check with your doctor before starting supplemental cinnamon if you are taking medications for controlling blood sugar and insulin levels.
You may need to modify or reduce your dosage of these medications: glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, metformin (Glucophage), pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia) or similar medications.
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