A health treatment not classified as standard conventional Western medical practice is referred to as complimentary. It encompasses a variety of areas including nutrition and herbal remedies, relaxation techniques, aromatherapy, acupuncture and massage. Their blood glucose lowering qualities are often claimed but there is little scientific evidence to support the view that diabetes control is improved sufficiently by these treatments.
The long list of suggested complimentary blood glucose lowering substances in the natural world includes cinnamon. This is an interesting example because not only has its use in the diabetes world been widespread but also its properties have been put to the test in several scientific based clinical experiments.
A commonly quoted article published by Khan and colleagues in Diabetes Care in 2003 was consistent with the idea that giving cinnamon to people with Type 2 diabetes improved diabetes control when compared to placebo. In subsequent studies, however, other researchers have found no significant effects of cinnamon on blood glucose control.
No effect of cinnamon on long-term control of diabetes has been proven from controlled studies in what is termed meta-analyses. These are reviews of pooled data from many different studies and are considered to represent the most reliable statistical method to assess for possible associations.
The fact that no good evidence so far links cinnamon to an improvement in diabetes control leads to the current conclusion that cinnamon cannot be recommended for the treatment of diabetes. Not only are there safe and effective prescription based alternatives but also the safety of long-term cinnamon supplementation has not been established. The main risk of considering complimentary treatment for diabetes may be that stopping proven conventional treatment will result in disastrous consequences.
The same arguments can be applied to the list of proposed glucose lowering foods and substances such as Bitter Gourd, Chinese Xiaoke tea, chromium supplements, fenugreek seeds, garlic or dark chocolate.
Much more research is required before the scientific community would accept any complimentary treatments in the day-to-day management of diabetes. This is not to say that many of these treatments aren’t beneficial in an indirect way. Reducing stress levels is highly effective in diabetes management and so is having balance to your diet. A holistic approach to your own healthcare would seem to be a very reasonable approach in diabetes care.