Health

Cinnamon may prevent amputations in diabetics

If I list names such as metformin, pioglitazone, glimepiride or vildagliptin, you probably won’t know what they are for unless you suffer from diabetes. Yes, they belong to diabetic drugs list. However, there are some other simple names such as cinnamon and chromium which are not pharmaceutical drugs, but they may work as a medicine for diabetic people. And of course, with fewer or no side effects.

A teaspoon of cinnamon a day significantly reduces blood sugar levels in diabetics (1) according to a study conducted in the Department de Human Nutrition, NWFP Agricultural University, Peshawar, Pakistan. On top of that, millions of non-diabetic people who have blood sugar problem and they are unaware could benefit too.

Cinnamon
Some cinnamon stick bunches

Apparently, the active ingredient in cinnamon turned out to be a water-soluble polyphenol compound called MHCP. In the lab, MHCP mimics insulin, activates its receptor and works synergistically with insulin cells. As a result, glucose metabolism improves twentyfold. In other words, it helps insulin do its job of getting excess sugar out of the bloodstream and into the cells.

Experiment. To understand if it would work in people, volunteers with type 2 diabetes were given 1, 3 or 6g of cinnamon powder per day, in capsules after meals. The research shows that all responded to the cinnamon within weeks, with blood sugar levels 20% lower on average than those in a control group. Some of the volunteers taking cinnamon even achieved normal blood-sugar levels. Tellingly, blood sugar started creeping up again after the diabetics stopped taking cinnamon.

On the other hand, cinnamon has other significant benefits. In the diabetic volunteers, it lowered blood levels of fats and “bad” LDL cholesterol, both also partly controlled by insulin. In the lab experiments, it neutralized damaging free radicals.

Ugly numbers

Despite the countless preventive diabetic campaigns in the UK, 4.7 million people suffer from diabetes according to Diabetes UK (2). Apparently, “If nothing changes, more than five million people will have diabetes in the UK by 2025”, quoted from Diabetes UK.

Diabetes
Graphics from Diabetes UK

The most worrying figure is that about 90% of people with diabetes have Type 2, about 8% Type 1 and 2% of population has rarer types of diabetes. Type 1 and rarer types of diabetes are determined by genes. However, Type 2 responds to the lifestyle of people: eating unhealthy ultra-processed food and sedentary life. So, it can be prevented.

Economically speaking, the NHS spends at least £ 10 billion a year on diabetes. It represents 10% of its entire budget. It means that the NHS spends £ 192 million per week, £ 27 million per day, £1 million per hour, £ 19.000 per minute and £ 315 in a second.

Diabetes
Graphics from Diabetes UK

Indistinctly of the money directed on it, diabetes side effects lead to stroke, heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, sight loss, kidney disease, depression or amputations. Unfortunately, diabetes leads to more than 8,500 leg, toe or foot amputations every year.

Diabetes
Graphics from Diabetes UK

Someone with insulin resistance is 20 times more likely to experience an amputation than someone without diabetes. Most updated data from Diabetes UK reflects 8,793 amputations in 2018. Reading this number from another angle brings up: 169 amputations per week, 24 per day or 1 amputation per hour.

If this trend doesn’t stop, probably the worst omen for the health authorities will, unfortunately, become a reality. More than 5 million people with diabetes by 2025 and more than 5.5 million by 2030.

 

References:

  1. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes – PubMed (nih.gov)
  2. 1362B_Facts and stats Update Jan 2019_LOW RES_EXTERNAL.pdf (diabetes.org.uk)

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