Poor diet, hormone deficiencies, taking excess insulin, excess alcohol consumption, fasting, strenuous exercise are all some causes of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. This is the opposite of excess blood sugar or hyperglycemia which causes diabetes. Usually hypoglycemia occurs in diabetic patients who suffer from an insulin reaction which causes a fall in blood sugar levels. Untreated, hypoglycemia can cause neurological damage or death.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia include headaches, blurred vision, excess sweating, seizures, fatigue, depression, heart palpitations, trembling and more. When you experience such symptoms, a quick remedy could be eating a slice of bread or drinking some orange juice. For more serious forms, a person may require drug therapy. Following a good diet especially eating foods rich in iron, B-vitamins and antioxidants will help. There are several alternative therapies, herbal remedies, acupuncture which could all be used to treat hypoglycemia.
Cinnamon for Hypoglycemia
Cinnamon is the dried bark of an evergreen tree that grows in Asian countries especially Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia. Commonly used varieties are Ceylon Cinnamon or Cassia Cinnamon. Cinnamon contains calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin K and dietary fiber. There are several studies which have been undertaken to test the benefits of cinnamon for diabetes.
Studies have been conducted on the benefits of cinnamon for lowering blood glucose levels. In one study, the effects of cinnamon on lowering triglyceride, total and LDL cholesterol and fasting serum glucose was studied. 14 healthy subjects were fed with 300g rice pudding along with 6g cinnamon. It was found that this level reduces postprandial blood sugar levels.
While this and other studies prove the benefits of cinnamon for type-2 diabetes, it could have the opposite effect on patients with hypoglycemia by further reducing blood glucose levels. In one study, it was found that cinnamon could cause hypoglycemia in patients with already low blood sugar levels. Hence, care must be taken when a patient with type-2 diabetes is taking anti-diabetic medication. If this is combined with cinnamon, it could result in hypoglycemia.
Only a few studies have been conducted on the effects of cinnamon on type-2 diabetes and some teens with type-1 diabetes. Most of the studies found that cinnamon did not have much effect on lipid or blood glucose levels. Larger studies could provide clearer idea about the benefits of cinnamon. A healthy diet, exercise and diabetic medication are critical for those with diabetes. Cinnamon cannot be a replacement for these treatments.
While herbal remedies like cinnamon could offer benefits for treating various medical conditions, there are various fraudulent products available which have not be studied sufficiently or recommended by the FDA to treat diabetes. Always check the efficacy of any herbal remedy before using it to treat diabetes.
The dosage of cinnamon supplements depends on the user and the medical reasons for taking it. This is true with almost herbal supplement. For diabetes, the recommended dosage is 1-6g daily. The dosage for general purposes is usually 1-4g. It is a good practise to consult your doctor before using cinnamon supplements if you have existing conditions.
Cinnamon taken in food amounts does not cause any side effects. Exposure to cinnamon could cause bronchial constriction or skin inflammation. Those with skin sensitivity could develop mouth or tongue sores when they come in contact with concentrated cinnamon oil. It should be used carefully by those taking diabetic medications, antibiotics, pregnant and breastfeeding women and those with heart conditions. Since Cassia cinnamon contains coumarins, it could interact adversely with anticoagulant medications like warfarin, aspirin NSAIDs and antiplatelet drugs. Anyone on any other medications including herbal supplements should consult their doctor before using cinnamon supplements, especially if they suffer from hypoglycemia.