February 26, 2007

Vitamin D protects against Breast Cancer & curbs tumour progression

Vitamin D from the SunWritten by Kevin Flatt

Natural Sunlight Destroys Breast Cancer Tumours: “…the cells treated with Vitamin D fared much better. And while the vitamin protects healthy cells, Rebecca Mason’s experiments are showing that vitamin D has the opposite effect on cancer cells. It kills them.” - Professor Michael Holick.

Exposure to sunlight is the greatest source of vitamin D and population studies have previously suggested higher vitamin D levels may contribute to the lower incidence of breast cancer seen in sunny climates such as the Mediterranean.

The idea that vitamin D may play a useful role in helping to prevent breast cancer was given a boost by UK research presented in March 2004. The researchers announced at a British Endocrine Societies meeting that they had found an enzyme in breast tissue that converts vitamin D into a cancer-fighting compound called calcitriol. Until now, it had been thought that this enzyme was only present in the kidneys.

Not only does the active form of vitamin D, calcitriol (the form made in optimal quantities by your body when your vitamin D blood levels are ideal) inhibit breast cancer cells from growing, it makes those cells grow and die more like natural cells. Furthermore, vitamin D inhibits the formation of excessive blood vessel growth around the cancerous tumour, a process called anti-angiogenesis. (Braz J Med Biol Res. 2002 Jan;35(1):1-9).

In the 1990’s, scientists from the University of California at San Diego provided the first evidence of how many women may be dying needlessly from breast cancer due to low vitamin D blood levels. The researchers measured the amount of sunlight available to the women at the latitude where they lived and combined that with the frequency of cloudy weather. Sunny climates are associated with higher vitamin D levels. They found that women in the sunniest regions of the USA were about half as likely to die from breast cancer as were women who lived in less sunny regions. When the same researchers looked at the USSR, before that country dissolved, they found that women who lived in the sunniest regions were three times less likely to develop breast cancer than were the women who lived in regions without as much sun. (Prev Med. 1990 Nov;19(6):614-22 and Int J Epidemiol. 1990 Dec;19(4):820-4.).

Researchers in Toronto interviewed 576 patients who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and 1,135 women who had no breast cancer. They found a direct connection between reduced breast cancer risk and exposure to sun as an adolescent. Women who worked an outdoor job between the ages of 10 and 19 had an estimated 40 percent reduced risk of breast cancer, and women who participated in frequent outdoor activities between the ages of 10 and 29 lowered their breast cancer risk by an estimated 35 percent. One of the researchers said: “What you are exposed to during breast development may be particularly important in determining future breast cancer risk. Current thinking is that exposures during adolescence or before a full-term pregnancy may have a greater effect, as that is when breast tissue is going through the most rapid development.”

In 1999, researchers at the Northern California Cancer Center and the University of Miami, followed 5009 women for 20 years, as part of a large NHANES I study. 190 of the women subsequently developed breast cancer. The researchers did not have calcidiol blood levels available, so they looked at many markers of vitamin D levels, such as living in sunny climates, sun damaged skin (indicted past sun exposure), a history of occupational and recreational sun exposure and dietary vitamin D.

All of these factors reduced the risk of breast cancer. Dietary vitamin D reduced the risk a little (due to the tiny doses of vitamin D consumed) but women with high occupational and recreational sun exposure who lived in a sunny climate reduced their risk three fold. Remember, 90 % of our vitamin D comes from sun exposure. Vitamin D from diet and supplements is close to insignificant due to the small amounts consumed. (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999 May;8(5):399-406).

Medical News Today reported on 18 Sep 2005 that Scientists reporting in the journal Photochemisty and Photobiology estimated that about 50,000-63,000 annual cancer deaths in the U.S. (10% of all cancer deaths) could be prevented if all Americans had sufficient vitamin D. These findings are based on data in the Atlas of Cancer Mortality Rates for the United States, , (cancer.gov/atlasplus/type.html), but are also supported by a number of recent reports that vitamin D plays a very important role in increasing survival once cancer is discovered. These deaths greatly outnumber the annual number of deaths from melanoma (8000) and skin cancer (2000). (Medical News Today 18 Sep 2005).

For example, solar UVB irradiance has been shown to be inversely correlated with breast cancer in ecologic studies in Canada, the former Soviet Union, European countries and the United States. Guidelines regarding sunscreen use might also be changed, because sunscreen preferentially absorbs UVB radiation and thus markedly impairs vitamin D production (SPF 8 can reduce vitamin D production by 95%). Public health advisories to minimize solar UVB irradiance, especially when given without any additional guidelines for the importance of vitamin D, could be more harmful than beneficial to public health, especially because the primary vitamin D source for many people is solar UVB irradiance. (Photochemistry and Photobiology: Vol. 81, No. 6, pp. 1276–1286).

Another Medical News Today article released on 17 Oct 2006 reported on a study published ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Pathology, demonstrating that Vitamin D may help curb breast cancer progression https://nationgesundheit.de/vidalista-online-und-ohne-rezept/.

The article reported that the authors reached their conclusion from a study of 279 women with invasive breast cancer. The disease was in the early stages in 204 women, and advanced in the remainder. Serum levels of vitamin D, parathyroid hormone, and calcium were measured in both groups of women. The results showed that women with early stage disease had significantly higher levels of vitamin D and significantly lower levels of parathyroid hormone than did the women with advanced disease. The article also noted that laboratory studies have also shown that vitamin D stops cancer cells from dividing and that it enhances cell death. And the epidemiological evidence (population studies) points to a link between rates of, and deaths from, breast cancer and exposure to sunlight. (Medical News Today 17/).

In 2004, a group at the University Hospital in Quebec confirmed that vitamin D, especially when taken with calcium, significantly reduced abnormal mammograms. In fact they found women with the highest vitamin D intake had only one fourth as may abnormal densities on their mammogram as did women with the lowest intake. (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Sep;13(9):).

Leading vitamin D researchers are suggesting that the optimum adult level seems to be 4,000 daily units which is 20 times the government level for those 50 and under. The government says 2,000 is the limit for all ages before side-effects result. The researchers disagree and say amounts considerably above 2,000 units may be warranted when considering the multitude of potential benefits. (CBN News 10/1/2007).

Make sure you’re taking D3. If the label says vitamin D2, then it’s not the good kind of vitamin D. So often, you see orange juice or foods that say they’re vitamin D fortified. But many times, those are fortified with D2. Vitamin D has to be taken with fat. Taking a vitamin D pill with orange juice isn’t going to work, it won’t absorb.

Try to get brand-name recommendations. Sadly, many doctors haven’t learned about supplements in medical school, so your doctor may not be able to advise you on that. To find the best brands, do your homework. Either get names of products from people you trust, or go on the Internet and look these supplements up.

Typically, dieticians say the best source of vitamins is through the foods we eat, rather than supplements. But Judy Carr, a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator says the best food sources of vitamin D aren’t necessarily the foods we love. In December, after reading a little more about the vitamin, Carr asked her doctor to include a vitamin D analysis with her routine blood work. She was surprised when her results came back showing her levels were on the low end of normal. “I’m thinking if that’s me, because I don’t have a horrible diet, I can’t imagine what the general population’s is,” Carr says. (Denver Post 14/2/2007).

Dr. Michael Holick, a leading vitamin D researcher who serves as director of the general clinical research center at Boston University Medical Center, said it’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from food, noting that you’d have to eat a 3½-ounce serving of fish like salmon, mackerel or sardines “almost every day just to begin to satisfy your requirement.”

The NIH agrees: It can be difficult to obtain enough vitamin D from natural food sources. For many people, consuming vitamin D fortified foods and adequate sunlight exposure are essential for maintaining a healthy vitamin D status. In some groups, dietary supplements may be needed to meet the daily need for vitamin D.

A tablespoon of cod-liver oil contains more than 1,300 IUs. Salmon (360 IUs for 3.5 ounces), sardines (250 IUs for 13/4 ounces) and fortified milk (about 100 IUs per serving) are also good sources.

No matter what cancer you have, or are trying to prevent, the real question is should cancer patients be left vitamin D deficient? Many experts will tell you that vitamin D should not be taken for breast cancer until well controlled scientific studies prove it helps. The problem with that approach is two-fold. First, you may die waiting for the studies to be conducted and two, it misses the point. The point is this: women with breast cancer should not allow themselves to be vitamin D deficient and neither should their doctors. (vitamindcouncil.com).

Finally, I’ve always thought that it’s pretty significant that the parts of the body least exposed to the sun are more likely to experience a malignant melanoma.

But a new look at 528 melanoma victims over five years also found that increased sun exposure led to increased survivability, according to the study led by Marianne Berwick of the department of internal medicine at the University of New Mexico. “It’s totally counterintuitive, and we’re trying to investigate it,” said Berwick, who is doing a similar study of 3,700 melanoma patients worldwide. “It’s really strange, because sunburn seems to be one of the factors associated with improved survival.” (The Baltimore Sun 2/2/2005).

Related articles:
Cancer (General) Articles and News

The Multitude of Health Benefits from Natural Sunlight and Vitamin D

Breast Cancer Progression Correlates with Lower Vitamin D Levels



William B. Grant, Cedric F. Garland and Michael F. Holick. Comparisons of Estimated Economic Burdens due to Insufficient Solar Ultraviolet Irradiance and Vitamin D and Excess Solar UV Irradiance for the United States. Photochemistry and Photobiology: Vol. 81, No. 6, pp. 1276–1286.

Garland FC, Garland CF, Gorham ED, Young JF. Geographic variation in breast cancer mortality in the United States: a hypothesis involving exposure to solar radiation. Prev Med. 1990 Nov;19(6):614-22.

Gorham ED, Garland FC, Garland CF. Sunlight and breast cancer incidence in the USSR. Int J Epidemiol. 1990 Dec;19(4):820-4.


Bortman P, Folgueira MA, Katayama ML, Snitcovsky IM, Brentani MM. Antiproliferative effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on breast cells: a mini review. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2002 Jan;35(1):1-9.

John EM, Schwartz GG, Dreon DM, Koo J. Vitamin D and breast cancer risk: the NHANES I Epidemiologic follow-up study, to 1992. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999 May;8(5):399-406.

Berube S, Diorio C, Verhoek-Oftedahl W, Brisson J. Vitamin D, calcium, and mammographic breast densities. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Sep;13(9):.


Copyright 2007 KevinFlatt. Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is presented for information purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. It cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment.

February 19, 2007

ADHD: Fish oil and primrose oil increases attention, reduces hyperactivity, restlessness and impulsivity

Written by Kevin Flatt

In 1996 Purdue University researchers found that boys with low blood levels of Omega-3 fatty acids have a greater tendency to have problems with behaviour, learning and health consistent with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or (ADHD).

John R. Burgess, assistant professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University, says boys with lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids scored higher in the frequency of many behavioural problems. (Purdue News Service).

The Purdue University study, published in the journal Physiology and Behaviour, found that the boys with lower omega-3 fatty acids exhibited a greater number of behaviour problems, temper tantrums, and sleep problems, as reported by the teachers and parents. Additionally, more learning and health problems were found in subjects with lower total omega-3 fatty acid concentrations. (Physiology and Behaviour, 59, 915-920).

In another study, published in The American journal of clinical nutrition (January 200), John R. Burgess and colleagues at Purdue University confirmed their previous findings and found that subjects with lower omega-3 fatty acids had significantly more behavioural problems, temper tantrums, and learning, health, and sleep problems than did those with high proportions of omega-3 fatty acids. (Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jan; 71(1 Suppl): 327S-30S).

As some fish oil supplements contain high amounts of mercury it is always wise to purchase a supplement of high quality that is mercury tested and contains vitamin E.

A study published in the January 2004 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a statistically significant relationship between consuming fish rich in omega-3 fats and a lower hostility score in 3581 young urban white and black adults. Eating any fish rich in omega 3 fats compared to eating no omega-3-rich fish was found to drop subjects’ chances of being hostile by 12%. (Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jan;58(1):24-31).

In a Japanese study carried out by Dr. Tomohito Hamazaki and colleagues and published in The Journal of clinical investigation, 41 student volunteers were given psychological testing before school started. The students were then divided into two groups. One group took a fish-oil preparation each day, the other took a placebo. Three months later, during final exams, the students were given another psychological evaluation. While the placebo group showed a sharp increase in aggressive behaviour in response to the additional stress, the group that received the DHA-rich fish oil actually experienced a substantial decline in aggression, notably during final exams, as compared with that measured at the start. (J Clin Invest. 1996 Feb 15;97(4):1129-33).

A study conducted by researchers at the University of South Australia and CSIRO Nutrition, in Adelaide, Australia, involving 145 children with ADHD highlights the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of children with ADHD.

PhD student Natalie Sinn conducted the research which involved children with ADHD-related problems and found her results mirror a similar investigation conducted in Durham, England where that study found fish oil supplements improved concentration and cognition in children diagnosed with attention problems. (Radio Australia abc.net.au/ra/innovations 24/706)

“The parents of children who spent 15 weeks on a course of capsules containing a combination of fish oil and primrose oil reported increased attention and reduced hyperactivity, restlessness and impulsivity,” says Natalie Sinn from the University of South Australia and CSIRO Nutrition. The same improvements were not reported from children who took a placebo. In addition, in the Australian trial, children taking the fish oil supplement also did better on tests of attention, and improved their vocabulary. (Medical News Today 21/9/05).

An article by Fiona Macrae, published in the Daily Mail (UK) 20/06/06, reported that Natalie Sinn had said that many of the parents who had children who showed improvements commented that their children were calmer, were doing better at school and were able to concentrate longer and were therefore reading more. She added that week-on-week improvements were still being seen at the end of the study - suggesting the results of an even longer course of treatment, may be even more dramatic. In addition, the article quoted Dr Madeleine Portwood, the educational psychologist who led the Durham England trial, as saying: "This study shows once again that omega 3 can have a very beneficial effect for children with concentration and behaviour problems.” (Daily Mail 20/06/06).

Sixty per cent of the brain is composed of fats, with the most important being polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The right balance of these two types of fatty acids is important for the healthy functioning of many parts of the body.

Not all supplements are equal.

The study from the University of South Australia used a supplement that was derived from high-EPA marine fish oil and virgin evening primrose oil (GLA). The capsules formulation contained Eicosapentaenoicacid (EPA), Docosahexaenioc acid (DHA), GLA, and vitamin E. The Dr Madeleine Portwood trial, conducted in Durham, England, also used capsules in the same doses (omega-3 and omega-6, 3000 milligrams per day).

The balancing effect of the antioxidant vitamin E contained in the supplement prevents the extra essential fatty acids from actually increasing damage to cell membranes caused by lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxides are the products of the chemical damage done by free radicals.

As mentioned previously, as some fish oil supplements contain high amounts of mercury it is always wise to purchase a supplement of high quality that is mercury tested and contains vitamin E.

Natalie has suggested that an inadequate diet could cause ADHD. “I think parents who want to look into this should make their doctor aware perhaps of this research so that they can make an informed decision about it,” she said. (ABC News Online June 21, 2006).

Nick Giovannelli, from the Hyperactive Children’s Support Group, said medication should not be given without considering alternative therapies. He said: “This new study adds to the mounting evidence that nutrition is safer and more effective than stimulant medication.” (Manchester Evening News 20/6/06).

Back to nature - and to nutrition.


Stevens, L. J., Zentall, S. S., Abate, M. L., et al (1996) Omega 3 fatty acids in boys with behaviour, learning and health problems. Physiology and Behaviour, 59, 915-920.

Burgess, J R : Stevens, L : Zhang, W : Peck, L. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jan; 71(1 Suppl): 327S-30S.

Iribarren C, Markovitz JH, Jacobs DR, Schreiner PJ, Daviglus M, Hibbeln JR. Dietary intake of n-3, n-6 fatty acids and fish: Relationship with hostility in young adults-the CARDIA study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jan;58(1):24-31.

Hamazaki T, Sawazaki S, Itomura M, Asaoka E, Nagao Y, Nishimura N, Yazawa K, Kuwamori T, Kobayashi M. The effect of docosahexaenoic acid on aggression in young adults. A placebo-controlled double-blind study. J Clin Invest. 1996 Feb 15;97(4):1129-33.

Copyright 2007 KevinFlatt. Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is presented for information purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. It cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment.

February 18, 2007

Gymnema sylvestre: A well-proven treatment for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes

Written by Kevin Flatt

Studies show that Gymnema Sylvestre helps control both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Gymnema is a well-proven treatment for diabetes, and it has been used for this purpose for over 2,000 years and has proved to be very effective in type 1 diabetes.

In human studies, the most common doses of Gymnema sylvestre used for blood sugar control were 400 mg to 600 mg per day. Gymnema sylvestre is commonly added to many different herbal combination products, but the majority of studies used GS4, a standardized product that contains only gymnema sylvestre. Standardization by the manufacturer should assure the same amount of active ingredient in every batch of the commercial preparation. (DrugDigest).

Doses of 400 mg to 600 mg per day correlates to about 8 to 12 grams per day of the dried herb in tablet form. Therefore taking 4 grams in tablet form two to three times a day would give a total daily dose of 8 to 12 grams. Some practitioners find Gymnema works best when taken before meals.

A WebMD Medical News article (9 October 2000) related the story of a 71-year-old woman whose doctor had prescribed a widely used drug glyburide (Micronase) used to stimulate the pancreas to make insulin, which can help control blood sugar in a person with type 2 diabetes. According to the woman she was frequently hitting blood sugar highs and lows. She had been using the drug for six years but fours years prior to the abovementioned report she had dumped glyburide and started taking the herbal product Beta Fast GXR which contains the herb Gymnema without her doctor’s knowledge for three of those years. She said her doctor may not have noticed the change because her blood sugar checks always turned out so well. The woman also watches her diet and tests her blood sugar daily. (WebMD Medical News 9/10/2000).

So what is Gymnema?

Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre) is a climbing plant that grows in open woods and bushland at an altitude of m in India, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and South Africa. Gymnema is also known as gurmar, gurmabooti, periploca of the woods, and meshasringi (ram’s horn). The Hindu word gurmar best describes the primary use of gymnema.

“Gurmar” translates in English as “sugar destroyer”. The translation is literal: When Gymnema is applied to the mouth, it prevents the taste buds from perceiving sweet tastes. Chewing chocolate is like chewing butter. Grains of sugar are like grains of sand. But it is more that just a fantastic party trick. Gymnema is a well-proven treatment for diabetes, and it has been used for this purpose for over 2,000 years. In my own clinical experience, I have found Gymnema to be the best herb available for treating this condition and controlling excessive blood sugar levels. (Kerry Bone, FNIMH, FNHAA, Nutrition and Healing Newsletter, January 2002).

It is best known for its apparent ability to lower blood sugar levels. Results from case reports and studies in humans and animals suggest that it may work in several ways to help control both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. First, the acids contained in gymnema sylvestre seem to decrease the amounts of sugar that are absorbed from foods. As a result, blood sugar levels may not increase as much as usual after meals. Secondly, gymnema sylvestre may promote the production of insulin by the body. It is possible that gymnema sylvestre may even prompt the pancreas to develop more beta cells - the source of insulin. It may also make body cells more responsive to the insulin that is available. (DrugDigest).

The first scientific confirmation of Gymnema’s effects on glucose in human diabetics was in 1926 when it was demonstrated that the leaves of Gymnema reduced urinary glucose. (K.G. Gharpurey, Indian Medical Gazette 1926; 61: 155).

Four years later it was shown that GS (Gymnema sylvestre) had a blood glucose lowering effect when there was residual pancreatic function, but was without effect in animals lacking pancreatic function, suggesting a direct effect on the pancreas. Despite the promise of these initial results, scientific inquiry into the effect of GS on diabetics was not seriously resumed until 1981 when it was again demonstrated that oral administration of the dried leaves of GS brings down blood glucose and raises serum insulin levels, recorded during an oral glucose tolerance test in diabetic animals and healthy human volunteers. (Parenting Naturally).

An unusual attribute of Gymnema sylvestre of great interest is its ability to lower blood sugar by increasing insulin output by apparently regenerating beta cells which are the cells that manufacture and secrete insulin. As abnormalities in beta cell number and/or function are directly related to both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, it appeared that Gymnema sylvestre was a major discovery in the battle against one of the most common disorders in the world.

In 1990 researchers at the University of Madras in India orally administered Gymnema extract to on group of diabetic rats while another group acted as controls and were not given Gymnema. A toxic agent was used to chemically destroy the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas of each rat thereby causing diabetes. In the group of rats receiving Gymnema leaves in any form, whole or extracted, their fasting blood glucose levels returned to normal within 20 to 60 days. In addition, their insulin levels rose toward normal levels and the number of beta cells in the pancreas (the cells that manufacture and secrete insulin) increased. Their findings were published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. (J Ethnopharmacol. 1990 Oct;30(3):265-79).

Another 1990 study by researchers at Kobe University School of Medicine, Japan, and published in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, concluded that gymnema is useful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Diabetic rats were divided into two groups and fed either a normal diet or one supplemented with an extract of Gymnema. After four weeks the rats supplemented with the Gymnema extract showed reduced glucose levels in the “fed state” and an improvement in glucose tolerance. (Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 1990 May-Jun; 9(2): 143-8).

Of course, what works well in test animals may not work in the same way or at all in humans, but this is not the case with Gymnema sylvestre. There have been numerous human clinical trials that have all had positive results.

In a 1990 study, researchers at the University of Madras in India, 22 patients with type 2 diabetes who were non-insulin-dependent were given 400 milligrams of Gymnema extract daily, in two divided doses, in addition to their normal dose of oral hypoglycemics for 18 to 20 months. Ages ranged from 40 to 62 years and disease duration from 1 to 12 years. Over the duration of treatment, Gymnema significantly lowered fasting blood glucose levels (average of 174mg/dl to 124mg/dl). Participants in the Gymnema group also had a significant reduction in hemoglobin A1c. (Hemoglobin A1C is tested to monitor the long-term control of diabetes and is increased in the red blood cells of persons with poorly controlled diabetes. From this test clinicians can estimate the average blood glucose level during the preceding two to four months. The target for most people is below 7).

Twenty-one of the 22 patients were able to reduce their intake of drugs, while five patients were able to stop their conventional drugs completely, maintaining normal glucose levels with the Gymnema supplements alone. Also, their Insulin levels increased significantly compared to those on drugs alone. The authors suggested that this increase in insulin levels was probably due to regeneration or repair of beta cells facilitated by Gymnema.

All of the above contrasts significantly to the diabetic group on drugs alone. Their fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c had elevated slightly and their drug doses either stayed the same or rose over the trial period. (J. Ethnopharmacol. 1990 Oct; 30(3): 295-300).

The above study demonstrates that the use of Gymnema may result in the need for smaller doses of oral diabetes drugs to control the disease. However, it is important that people with this disease don’t abandon proven ways to manage it, from a healthy diet to regular exercise and medications when needed.

In another study in 1990 carried out by the same research group at the University of Madras, India, 27 participants with insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes, ages from 10 to 50 years and with varying disease duration, were supplemented with 400 milligrams of Gymnema extract daily in two divided doses. All were using daily insulin injections. After 6 to 8 months of treatment with the Gymnema extract the average insulin requirements were decreased from 60 to 45 units per day and fasting blood glucose levels were lowered. In fact, one patient with a disease duration of 10 years and another with a lesser duration were able to discontinue insulin usage completely. These improvements continued through out the trial till its completion. One has to find it remarkable that, compared to conventional treatment, patients with type 1 diabetes for 25 years responded equally as well as those who had been diagnosed for only one year when given the Gymnema extract supplement. So, there appears to be no time limitation on Gymnema use to still receive benefits.

This contrasts significantly to the diabetic group not taking Gymnema and receiving insulin alone for a year. Their insulin requirements either remained the same or increased and their average insulin usage was almost double that of the Gymnema group. Also, the drop in fasting blood glucose was statistically insignificant in this group.

In addition, cholesterol levels also returned to near normal levels and triglycerides were lowered in the group taking Gymnema. (J. Ethnopharmacol. 1990 Oct; 30(3): 281-94).

In 1997 Japanese researchers at the Nippon Veterinary and Animal Science University, Tokyo, Japan, decided to test Gymnema inodorum, since it has an advantage that it does not suppress sweetness nor is it bitter in taste. They conclusions, published in The Journal of veterinary medical science, was that their studies suggested Gymnema inodorum inhibits the increase in the blood glucose levels by interfering with the intestinal glucose absorption process. (J Vet Med Sci. 1997 Sep; 59(9): 753-7).

In a study, published in the Diabetes In Control Newsletter (30/10/2001), conducted by Diabetes Educators, under the protocols established by Diabetes in Control and Informulab of Omaha, NE, the makers of Beta Fast GXR®, Gymnema Sylvestre was found to lower HbA1c from 10.1% to 9.3%. HbA1c or Hemoglobin A1C is tested to monitor the long-term control of diabetes and is increased in the red blood cells of persons with poorly controlled diabetes. From this test clinicians can estimate the average blood glucose level during the preceding two to four months. The target for most people is below 7.

The study included 65 participants with type 2 diabetes, some diet controlled others insulin dependent, ages 18 to 73 and was conducted for a ninety day period. Patients were given Beta Fast GXR® brand of Gymnema Sylvestre containing 400mg leaf extract per tablet twice daily.

An interesting observation made by the researchers was that the higher the participants initial HbA1c values (and therefore the less controlled their diabetes) the more significant the results. In the group of participants that started with an HbA1c above 10% the Gymnema Sylvestre supplementation lowered HbA1c from 11.1% to 9.9% (1.2% decrease) compared with the group that started at 9% or above, HbA1c was lowered from 10.1% to 9.3% (0.8% decrease). (Diabetes In Control Newsletter, Issue 76 (1) : 30 Oct 2001).

The reduction of HbA1c in this study is of great importance as an improvement in glycemic control reduces the risk of complications from diabetes.

Glycemic control is a medical term referring to the typical levels of blood sugar (glucose) in a person with diabetes type 2. Much evidence suggests that many of the long-term complications of diabetes, especially the microvascular (smaller blood vessels) complications, result from many years of hyperglycemia (elevated levels of glucose in the blood). Good glycemic control, in the sense of a “target” for treatment, has become an important goal of diabetes care. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

In 2003 researchers, reporting in the journal Pharmacological Research, found that Oral administration of 200 mg of Gymnema montanum extract per kg of body weight to diabetic rats for 3 weeks resulted in a significant reduction in blood glucose levels and an increase in insulin levels. There was also a decrease in free radical formation in the blood of the diabetic rats. Supplementing with Gymnema montanum resulted in an increase in glutathione (which has many functions in a cell include activating certain enzymes and destroying toxic compounds and chemicals that contain oxygen). Vitamin C and vitamin E levels were also increased thereby clearly showing the antioxidant properties of Gymnema montanum.

These effects were compared with glibenclamide, an anti-diabetic drug (Diabeta®, Glynase® Micronase® Daonil®, Semi-Daonil® Euglucon®. Also sold in combination with metformin under the trade name Glucovance®.) The researchers concluded that the results suggest that Gymnema montanum extract was more effective than the drug glibenclamide. (Pharmacological Research. 2003 Dec; 48(6): 551-6).

Why is this antioxidant activity of Gymnema so important in diabetes management?

The above study shows that Gymnema appears to recycle available vitamin C and E.

The prevalent long term depletion of vitamin C, common in diabetes, may contribute to depressed immune function, compromised wound healing ability and reduced blood vessel integrity. These and other related aliments can possibly be arrested and reversed by vitamin C supplementation. (Dr. Brian Jakes, Jr. Diabetes In Control July 2002).

C-reactive protein is linked to cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes. “Having both diabetes and an elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) level compounds one’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease, for which people with diabetes are at particularly high risk,” scientists writing in the American Journal of Nursing report in their review. (Life Extension Foundation Daily News 10/04/06).

Vitamin C supplements can reduce levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation and chronic disease risk in humans, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. Participants who took about 500 milligrams of vitamin C supplements per day saw a 24 percent drop in plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) levels after two months. “C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation, and there is a growing body of evidence that chronic inflammation is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease,” said Gladys Block, UC Berkeley professor of epidemiology and public health nutrition and lead author of the study. The researchers say that long-term adverse health effects occur when inflammation persists at low levels. This chronic inflammation, with persistent elevated levels of CRP, has been found among smokers and Type 2 diabetics, as well as among overweight or obese persons. The researchers noted that in other studies, higher doses of vitamin E produced lower CRP levels among Type 2 diabetics and healthy individuals. (Sarah Yang, Media Relations, University of California, Berkeley, 12/4/2004).

Recent clinical trials confirm the uses of typical antioxidants alone or in combination with other natural supplements may delay or even prevent the normal progression of diabetic complications.

Importantly, none of the participants in these studies reported any adverse side effects, although many patients developed hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) and required a lowering of their dose of conventional oral medication or insulin. Therefore, any diabetic that uses GSE must carefully monitor blood glucose levels and adjust their medication, in consultation with their physician, to maintain desired blood glucose levels. This is because improved insulin production and release during GSE supplementation may result in over-medication, and therefore low blood glucose levels, unless the dosage of conventional oral medication or insulin is lowered. Since most diabetics monitor their blood glucose levels on a daily basis, this shouldn’t present a problem.

Japanese researchers conducted a study in 2004 using both male and female rats to determine Gymnema sylvestre toxicity. One group of rats was fed a normal diet, the other group supplemented with Gymnema at increasing doses for 52 weeks. The researchers concluded there were no toxic effects in rats treated with Gymnema sylvestre at up to 1.00% in the diet for 52 weeks. This equated to an average of 504 mg/kg/day for male rats and 563 mg/kg/day for female rats daily intake over the period. (Shokuhin Eiseigaku Zasshi. 2004; 45(1):8-18).

What dose size is required to reduce blood glucose in humans efficiently?

This can vary widely depending on numerous factors including the specific type of herb used and the patient being treated.

Gymnema can work quite quickly to control blood sugar levels. Used on its own, it will not drop blood sugar so far as to cause hypoglycemia. However, there is the risk this could happen if it is used together with insulin or anti-diabetic drugs. So in these cases, Gymnema should only be taken under professional supervision. (Kerry Bone, FNIMH, FNHAA, Nutrition and Healing Newsletter, January 2002).

If you live in Australia you can buy gymnema at Xtreme Herbs Australia.

Aside from lowered blood sugar and increased effects of anti-diabetic drugs following chronic use of gymnema, no significant adverse effects have been reported with the herb, in several studies up to 20 months long. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or low blood sugar, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, and medication adjustments may be necessary. (MedlinePlus).

Signs that blood sugar may be too low include shakiness, sweating, confusion, distorted speech, and loss of muscle control.


Shanmugasundaram ER, Gopinath KL, Radha Shanmugasundaram K, Rajendran VM. Possible regeneration of the islets of Langerhans in streptozotocin-diabetic rats given Gymnema sylvestre leaf extracts. J Ethnopharmacol. 1990 Oct;30(3):265-79.

Okabayashi, Y : Tani, S : Fujisawa, T : Koide, M : Hasegawa, H : Nakamura, T : Fujii, M : Otsuki, M. Effect of Gymnema sylvestre, R.Br. on glucose homeostasis in rats. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 1990 May-Jun; 9(2): 143-8.

Baskaran, K : Kizar Ahamath, B : Radha Shanmugasundaram, K : Shanmugasundaram, E R. Antidiabetic effect of a leaf extract from Gymnema sylvestre in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients. J. Ethnopharmacol. 1990 Oct; 30(3): 295-300.

Shanmugasundaram, E R : Rajeswari, G : Baskaran, K : Rajesh Kumar, B R : Radha Shanmugasundaram, K : Kizar Ahmath, B. Use of Gymnema sylvestre leaf extract in the control of blood glucose in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. J. Ethnopharmacol. 1990 Oct; 30(3): 281-94.

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Copyright 2007 KevinFlatt. Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is presented for information purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. It cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment.

February 15, 2007

Diabetes: Chromium supplements drop blood sugar in 80 to 90 percent of patients.

Written by Kevin Flatt

In 1957, a compound in brewers’ yeast was found to prevent an age-related decline in the ability of rats to maintain normal levels of sugar (glucose) in their blood. Chromium was identified as the active ingredient in this so-called “glucose tolerance factor” (GTF) in 1959. In the 1960s, chromium was found to correct glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in deficient animals, two indicators that the body is failing to properly control blood-sugar levels and which are precursors of type 2 diabetes. (National Institutes of Health).

New research suggests that rather than being a part of the GTF, chromium is at the centre of a very small protein molecule that helps activate insulin receptors in our body’s cells. If this is true, then it means that chromium may help insulin work more effectively in the cells of our bodies.

Studies show that people with type 2 diabetes have lower blood levels of chromium than those without the disease. Chromium picolinate, specifically, has been shown to reduce insulin resistance and to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Chromium in the diet is affected by many factors such as source, processing, and method of preparation. Thus, data on food composition are unlikely to provide a valid measure of the chromium status. (Diabetes Care. 2004 Sep;27(9):2211-6).

Not all chromium supplements are equal.

Science News Online reported in April 2005 that Robert DiSilvestro and Emily Dy of Ohio State University showed data at the Experimental Biology 2005 meeting in San Diego indicating that only the picolinate form of chromium is absorbed well by the body. The report stated that according to Robert DiSilvestro about 40 percent of chromium picolinate was absorbed by people taking chromium supplements in one experiment. DiSilvestro added that absorption of other forms of the mineral in supplements ran as low as 1 percent and only about 10 percent of any form of chromium in foods is typically absorbed. (Science News Online 16/4/2005; Vol. 167, No. 16).

Additionally, an animal study conducted at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that chromium picolinate was better absorbed by the tissues (e.g., liver and muscle) than chromium nicotinate and chromium chloride. Absorption into the tissue is important because for a mineral to be beneficial, it must survive the digestive tract and reach the bloodstream. Otherwise, minerals pass through the body, leaving it void of necessary nutrients. (Medical News Today 7/2/2007).

It is always preferable to use a chromium picolinate supplement rather than just any chromium supplement.

Three hospitalized patients who were fed intravenously showed signs of diabetes (including weight loss, neuropathy, and impaired glucose tolerance) until chromium was added to their feeding solution. The chromium, added at doses of 150 to 250 mcg/day for up to two weeks, corrected their diabetes symptoms. Chromium is now routinely added to intravenous solutions. (NIH, Office of Dietary Supplements: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Chromium).

A 1999 British study published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology supported these findings. The researchers found that blood levels of chromium are lower in diabetic subjects, with average levels of blood plasma chromium 33% lower in 93 type 2 diabetic participants compared with healthy participants. The researchers suggested that large losses of chromium over many years may worsen an already compromised chromium status in people with diabetes type 2 and might contribute to the developing insulin resistance seen in these patients. (Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology 13:57–61, 1999). This was again supported by a 2001 Austrian study published in the journal Biological Trace Element Research which reported significantly lower chromium levels in the blood of type 2 diabetic individuals compared with non diabetic healthy people. (Biological Trace Element Research 79:205–219, 2001).

In 1979 Richard A. Anderson, PhD, a U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition research scientist together with his colleagues conducted a large human trial with 180 participants (men and women) with type 2 diabetes. All participants continued to take their normal medications and were instructed to continue with their normal eating and living habits. They were divided into three groups, one of which took 1000 micrograms of chromium daily in two divided doses for four months. The second group took 200 micrograms of chromium daily in divided doses while the other group was given a placebo.

A significant improvement in HbA1c levels was observed after only 2 months in the group taking 1000 micrograms of chromium and in both groups taking chromium after 4 months. (Hemoglobin A1C is tested to monitor the long-term control of diabetes and is increased in the red blood cells of persons with poorly controlled diabetes. From this test clinicians can estimate the average blood glucose level during the preceding two to four months. The target for most people is below 7).

Fasting glucose was also lower after 2 months in the group taking the higher dose of chromium and in both groups taking chromium after 4 months. Total cholesterol also decreased after 4 months in the group taking 1000 micrograms of chromium daily. (Diabetes. 1997 Nov; 46(11):).

The body’s chromium content may be reduced under several conditions. Diets high in simple sugars (comprising more than 35% of calories) can increase chromium excretion in the urine. Infection, acute exercise, pregnancy and lactation, and stressful states (such as physical trauma) increase chromium losses and can lead to deficiency, especially if chromium intakes are already low. (NIH Office of Dietary Supplements).

Scientists believe that insulin uses chromium as an assistant (technically, a cofactor) to “unlock the door” to the cell membrane, thereby allowing glucose to enter the cell.

More than 15 scientific studies support the safety and role of chromium in improving insulin function and glucose metabolism in people with type 2 diabetes and related conditions. “There is strong scientific evidence to suggest that supplemental chromium picolinate may improve insulin sensitivity, blood glucose control, and cardiovascular risk factors in adults with type 2 diabetes,” according to Dr. Kaufman, former president of the American Diabetes Association and specialist in pediatric endocrinology. (PRNewswire-FirstCall 15/2/2005).

In 2004 a researcher from Louisiana State University System and another from Harvard School of Public Health reviewed the literature to date and noted as part of their review that two of the three studies that failed to document significant positive effects of chromium on insulin or glucose metabolism used a poorly absorbed inorganic formulation, and the third administered a very low dose of chromium picolinate. (Reviewed in Diabetes Care. 2004 Nov;27(11):2741-51).

Too little chromium can mean not enough insulin, which leads to poor use of blood sugar. When this happens, the body uses fats, instead of glucose, for energy. Consequently, there’s a reserve of cholesterol left in the blood, creating a veritable garbage dump in the arteries. (Brenda D. Adderly, M.H.A.)

If you take people in the general population with slightly elevated blood sugar and give them chromium supplements, you’ll see a drop in blood sugar in 80 to 90 percent of them. (Dr. Richard A. Anderson, U.S. Department of Agriculture).


Rajpathak S, Rimm EB, Li T, Morris JS, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Hu FB. Lower toenail chromium in men with diabetes and cardiovascular disease compared with healthy men. Diabetes Care. 2004 Sep;27(9):2211-6.

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Anderson, R A : Cheng, N : Bryden, N A : Polansky, M M : Cheng, N : Chi, J : Feng, J. Elevated intakes of supplemental chromium improve glucose and insulin variables in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes. 1997 Nov; 46(11):.

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PRNewswire Feb 6, 2006 Chromium Picolinate Helps Muscles Use Blood Sugar Insulin to Work Better


FDA Approves First Qualified Health Claim for Chromium Picolinate Diabetes

Martin J, Wang ZQ, Zhang XH, Wachtel D, Volaufova J, Matthews DE, Cefalu WT. Chromium picolinate supplementation attenuates body weight gain and increases insulin sensitivity in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2006 Aug;29(8):1826-32.

Anonymous. A scientific review: the role of chromium in insulin resistance. Diabetes-Educ. 2004; Suppl: 2-14.

Abraham, A S : Brooks, B A : Eylath, U. The effects of chromium supplementation on serum glucose and lipids in patients with and without non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Metabolism. 1992 Jul; 41(7): 768-71.

Rajpathak S, Rimm EB, Li T, Morris JS, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Hu FB. Lower toenail chromium in men with diabetes and cardiovascular disease compared with healthy men. Diabetes Care. 2004 Sep;27(9):2211-6.

Vrtovec M, Vrtovec B, Briski A, Kocijancic A, Anderson RA, Radovancevic B. Chromium supplementation shortens QTc interval duration in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Am Heart J. 2005 Apr;149(4):632-6.

Copyright 2007 KevinFlatt. Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is presented for information purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. It cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment.

Type 2 Diabetes: Cinnamon Improves Blood Sugar Levels and Insulin Function

Written by Kevin Flatt

Cinnamon has demonstrated its ability to boost insulin activity and thus control blood glucose levels in a number of studies involving volunteers with Type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon has demonstrated additional benefits in lowered blood levels of fats and “bad” cholesterol, which are also partly controlled by insulin, with subjects with Type 2 diabetes.

People develop type 2 diabetes because the cells in the muscles, liver, and fat do not use insulin properly. Eventually, the pancreas cannot make enough insulin for the body’s needs. As a result, the amount of glucose in the blood increases while the cells are starved of energy. Over the years, high blood glucose damages nerves and blood vessels, leading to complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve problems, gum infections, and amputation. (NIDDK National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse).

Cinnamon has been used for several thousand years in traditional Ayurvedic and Greco-European medical systems. Native to tropical southern India and Sri Lanka, the bark of this evergreen tree is used to manage conditions such as nausea, bloating, flatulence, and anorexia. It is also one of the world’s most common spices, used to flavour everything from oatmeal and apple cider to cappuccino. Recent research has revealed, however, that regular use of cinnamon can promote healthy glucose metabolism. (Life Extension Foundation, LE Magazine December 2005).

Food chemists determined the most active compound in cinnamon and discovered a method to extract it. This product is called methylhydroxy chalcone polymer. Since no one can pronounce it, it’s called MHCP.

The search for a natural way to keep blood sugar levels normal began more than a decade ago when Agricultural Research Service chemist Richard A. Anderson and co-workers at the Beltsville (Maryland) Human Nutrition Research Center assayed plants and spices used in folk medicine. They found that a few spices (especially cinnamon) made fat cells much more responsive to insulin, the hormone that regulates sugar metabolism (the process in which cells convert glucose to energy) and thus controls the level of glucose in the blood.

Anderson and colleagues found that cinnamon’s most active compound—methylhydroxy chalcone polymer (MHCP)—increased sugar metabolism roughly 20-fold in a test tube assay of fat cells. The researchers tested some 50 plant extracts and found that none of them came close to MHCP’s level of affecting glucose metabolism—a process in which cells convert glucose to energy. (Judy McBride, Agricultural Research July 2000).

Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. People with diabetes have problems converting food to energy. After a meal, food is broken down into a sugar called glucose, which is carried by the blood to cells throughout the body. Cells use the hormone insulin, made in the pancreas, to help them process blood glucose into energy.

Anderson and his colleagues stumbled onto cinnamon's anti-diabetic properties in, of all things, apple pie.

During the early stages of testing a new chromium supplement, Agricultural Research Service chemist Richard A. Anderson, Ph.D. and his colleagues were attempting to disrupt some volunteers’ blood sugar control by feeding them a low chromium diet that included apple pie. Surprisingly, these volunteers’ blood sugar remained under control. Subsequent test-tube studies showed that cinnamon in the pie was boosting insulin activity, as chromium does, and thus controlling blood glucose. The spice turned out to be the “best thing we ever tested” for that purpose, Anderson says. (Science News Online 1/5/2004; Vol. 165, No. 18).

Dr Anderson and his colleagues have noted that MHCP closely mimics insulin activity and works synergistically with insulin (meaning they were more effective when used together than when either one was used on its own) in cells and further, MHCP can work alone without the presence of insulin. (Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2001;20(4): 327-336).

In the lab, Anderson and his team studied the effect of consuming one to six grams of cinnamon extract a day. One gram is the equivalent of about a half a teaspoon. They found that cinnamon increases levels of three important proteins crucial to promoting normal insulin-signaling processes, a healthy inflammatory response, and efficient glucose transportation throughout the body. (Alan Mozes, HealthDay News 5/4/2006).

Both test tube and animal studies have shown that compounds in cinnamon not only stimulate insulin receptors, but also inhibit an enzyme that inactivates them and in so doing significantly increases cells’ ability to use glucose.

Sugars and starches in food are broken down into glucose, which then circulates in the blood. The hormone insulin makes cells take in the glucose, to be used for energy or made into fat. But people with Type 1 diabetes do not produce enough insulin. Those with Type 2 diabetes produce it, but have lost sensitivity to it. Even apparently healthy people, especially if they are overweight, sedentary or over 25, lose sensitivity to insulin. Having too much glucose in the blood can cause serious long-term damage to eyes, kidneys, nerves and other organs. (Debora MacKenzie, NewScientist.com news service 24/11/2003).

A study conducted at Nagoya University, Japan, and published in the December 2003 issue of Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice demonstrated cinnamon’s beneficial effects on insulin activity. In this study, when rats were given a daily dose of cinnamon (300 mg per kilogram of body weight) for a 3 week period, their skeletal muscle was able to absorb 17% more blood sugar per minute compared to that of control rats, which had not received cinnamon, an increase researchers attributed to cinnamon’s enhancement of the muscle cells’ insulin-signaling pathway, resulting in increased glucose uptake. (Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 2003 Dec;62(3):139-48).

In a related finding published in another journal (Diabetes Care), members of Anderson’s research team reported that less than a half-teaspoon of cinnamon daily for 40 days significantly lowered blood sugar levels among 60 volunteers with Type 2 diabetes. (ScienceDaily 17/11/2005).

The study, published in the December 2003 issue of Diabetes Care, demonstrated that in people with type 2 diabetes, consuming as little as 1 gram of cinnamon per day was found to reduce blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol. One gram is the equivalent of about a half a teaspoon.

The study was conducted in Pakistan and was organised by Alam Khan, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Anderson’s lab. Sixty volunteers (30 men and 30 women) with type 2 diabetes were divided into six groups. The first three groups consumed 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon daily for 40 days, while the other three groups consumed equivalent numbers of placebo capsules (sugar pills). In the group taking cinnamon all participants responded within weeks, with blood sugar levels that were on average 20 per cent lower than the groups taking a placebo. Some even achieved normal blood sugar levels. Even the lowest amount of cinnamon, 1 gram per day (approximately ¼ to ½ teaspoon), produced an 18% drop in blood sugar while 6 grams per day reduced blood sugar by 29%.

The cinnamon demonstrated additional benefits. In the volunteers, it lowered blood levels of fats and “bad” cholesterol, which are also partly controlled by insulin. Triglycerides were lowered by 23-30%, LDL cholesterol 7-27% and total cholesterol 12-26% depending on the dose (i.e. 1, 3, or 6 grams per day). No significant changes were seen in those groups receiving a placebo (sugar pill).

Blood sugar started creeping up again after the diabetics stopped taking cinnamon but they remained below the levels recorded before cinnamon supplementation began. LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels continued to decline throughout the following 20 days after cinnamon use was stopped. The researchers’ conclusion: including cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. (Diabetes Care. 2003 Dec;26(12):3215-8).

The incidence of heart disease and risk of a heart attack is increased up to fourfold in type 2 diabetics. Together with hypertension, imbalances in blood lipids (reduced HDL cholesterol, raised triglyceride levels), and insulin resistance (“pre-diabetes”), this collection of conditions constitutes what is now termed the “metabolic syndrome”. Preventing and treating these related health threats should be much more closely coordinated, rather than seeing them as separate problems.

For this reason, researchers have sought out nutrients that can simultaneously improve glucose metabolism and lipid levels (cholesterol, triglycerides). As the above study demonstrates cinnamon proved to be such a dual-action agent.

As he [Dr Richard Anderson] explained to renalwire, cinnamon appears to increase insulin efficiency such that less insulin is required. “This is important, since most people with type 2 diabetes do not have too little insulin but have elevated levels of insulin that is not efficient,” Anderson explained. “High levels of circulating insulin can lead to many of the secondary signs of diabetes such as nerve, kidney, and eye problems, as well as build up of plaque in the arteries.” (Medscape Medical News April 4, 2006).

“If you can improve insulin function the cholesterol goes down, triglycerides go down, glucose goes down, and all this goes towards the alleviation of type 2 diabetes,” said Richard A. Anderson, a research chemist with the nutrient requirements and functions laboratory at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, Md. (HealthDay News 5/4/06).

Only a little cinnamon was necessary, said Anderson, who helped conduct the study. He calls its medicinal properties the most significant nutritional discovery in 25 years. “I don’t know of anything else,” he said, other than drugs, “that can change glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol levels nearly so much.” (Medical News Today 30/1/2004).

Anderson has cautioned, however, that consumers should not simply start dousing their food with cloves and cinnamon [at high doses]. He noted, for example, that cinnamon in powder form is rendered ineffective by contact with saliva, and its lack of solubility in water can result in an unwanted build up of the spice in the body. (HealthDay News 5/4/06).

Some methods of using cinnamon are explained later in this article. You can also buy cinnamon capsules with the water-soluble extract in the equivalent of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons twice a day.

Dr. Anderson’s personal 60-point decline in total cholesterol occurred only after he switched from sprinkling cinnamon on his breakfast cereal to taking it in a capsule. Saliva contains a chemical harmful to cinnamon rendering it ineffective. (Medical News Today 9/4/2006).

A study conducted in Korea and published in the October 2006 issue of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology demonstrated that cinnamon extract fed to diabetic rats in different dosages (50, 100, 150 and 200 mg per kg) for 6 weeks significantly decreased blood glucose concentration in a dose-dependent manner with the greatest effect in the 200 mg per kg group compared with the rats not given cinnamon. In addition, blood insulin levels and HDL (good) cholesterol levels were significantly higher. Triglycerides and total cholesterol were also significantly lower.

The researchers concluded that cinnamon extract regulates blood glucose levels and lipids (triglycerides and cholesterol) and may suppress blood glucose by improving insulin sensitivity or by slowing absorption of carbohydrates in the small intestine. (Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2006 Mar 8;104(1-2):119-23. Epub 2005 Oct 5).

Cinnamon makes muscle and liver cells more sensitive to signals from insulin, an important blood-sugar-controlling hormone, says study author Richard Anderson, PhD. Have a little (about 1/6 teaspoon) at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for a daily total of about 1/2 teaspoon, he recommends. Since cinnamon may reduce your need for diabetes or cholesterol medication, ask your doctor if you need to adjust your dose. (Sara Altshul, Prevention.com, May 27, 2004).

Another cinnamon study conducted at Nagoya University, Japan, and published in the 2004 issue of Hormone Metabolism Research, shows that by enhancing insulin signaling, cinnamon can prevent insulin resistance even in animals fed a high fructose diet, a simple sugar! The study showed that when rats fed a high fructose diet were also given cinnamon extract (300 mg per kilogram of body weight), their ability to respond to and utilize glucose (blood sugar) was improved so much that it was the same as that of rats on a normal diet. (Hormone Metabolism Research. 2004 Feb;36(2):119-25).

Cinnamon may help by playing the role of an insulin substitute in type II diabetes, according to cellular and molecular studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Iowa State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Cinnamon itself has insulin-like activity and also can potentiate (increase the effect of) the activity of insulin,” said Professor Don Graves of UCSB. “The latter could be quite important in treating those with type II diabetes. Cinnamon has a bio-active component that we believe has the potential to prevent or overcome diabetes.” (ScienceDaily 14/4/2004).

In May 2006 researchers at the University of Hannover, in Germany, reporting in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation conducted a study designed to determine the effect of a water-soluble cinnamon extract on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes. A total of 79 patients with type 2 diabetes not on insulin therapy but treated with oral medication or diet therapy were divided into two groups, one of which was given a placebo capsule (sugar pill) while the other group took cinnamon extract capsules (equivalent of one gram of cinnamon powder) three times daily (the total equivalent to 3 grams of cinnamon powder per day) for four months. Neither group knew who was taking cinnamon or the placebo.

The cinnamon extract group experienced a significant reduction (10.3%) in fasting plasma glucose levels compared with the placebo group. The decrease in blood plasma glucose (sugar) was directly related to the participant’s levels at the start of the trial indicating that subjects with a higher initial blood plasma glucose level may benefit more from cinnamon intake. (European Journal of Clinical Investigation 2006 May;36(5):340-4).

This was the first study evaluating the effect of a water-soluble cinnamon extract on glycemic control and the lipid profile of Western patients with type 2 diabetes. The results further add to a growing body of clinical evidence demonstrating supplementation with a water-soluble cinnamon extract may play an important role in managing blood sugar levels and improving insulin function. (Medical News Today 30 Jun 2006).

Glycemic control is a medical term referring to the typical levels of blood sugar (glucose) in a person with diabetes type 2. Much evidence suggests that many of the long-term complications of diabetes, especially the microvascular complications, result from many years of hyperglycemia (elevated levels of glucose in the blood). Good glycemic control, in the sense of a “target” for treatment, has become an important goal of diabetes care. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

Anderson cautioned, however, that consumers should not simply start dousing their food with cloves and cinnamon [at high doses]. He noted, for example, that cinnamon in powder form is rendered ineffective by contact with saliva, and its lack of solubility in water can result in an unwanted build up of the spice in the body. “But I certainly think there are things people can do,” he added. “We recommend you add cinnamon to your coffee before you grind it, as this eliminates, in essence, the toxic components of cinnamon. Or you can use cinnamon sticks to make tea in hot water, which does the same thing. Or you can buy the cinnamon capsules in the store with the water-soluble extract in the equivalent of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons twice a day.” (HealthDay News 5/4/06).

“I don’t recommend eating more cinnamon buns, or even more apple pie – there’s too much fat and sugar,” says Anderson. “The key is to add cinnamon to what you would eat normally.” Anderson’s team was awarded patents related to MHCP in 2002. But the chemical is easily obtained. He notes that one of his colleagues tried soaking a cinnamon stick in tea. “He isn’t diabetic - but it lowered his blood sugar,” Anderson says. (Debora MacKenzie, NewScientist.com news service 24/11/2003).

Remember, as Dr Anderson has noted, saliva renders cinnamon ineffective, therefore it can be added to foods as the active components are not destroyed by heat. There is some evidence that high levels of the fat soluble fractions of cinnamon could be cause for concern. Researchers note that when consumed consistently or in high doses, whole cinnamon and fat-soluble extracts may be toxic. In addition, whole cinnamon contains volatile oils, which are well-known irritants that may trigger allergic reactions. This could very well scare a lot of people away from this beneficial therapy. If you’re worried about exceeding 1 gram a day add cinnamon to your coffee before you grind it, as this eliminates, in essence, the toxic components of cinnamon. Or you can use cinnamon sticks to make tea in hot water, which does the same thing. Or you can buy the cinnamon capsules in the store with the water-soluble extract in the equivalent of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons twice a day.

He recommends that, to be safe, anyone using more than 1/4 to 1 teaspoonful of whole cinnamon daily first boil it in water, then pour off (or strain through a cheesecloth) the resulting watery solution for use, either drinking it as a tea, or using it in other foods and drinks, and discard the solid remainder, which would contain the fat and oil-soluble parts.

Using cinnamon or MHCP should postpone or even help prevent progression of type 2 diabetes and its complications. For those who are on medication it is wisest to work with their physician to monitor their progress and safely taper down their dose as the cinnamon starts working.

Professor Don Graves of the University of California, Santa Barbara said that other major diseases could possibly be helped by cinnamon. For example one prospect is pancreatic cancer, a disease in which abnormal amounts of insulin are produced by the pancreas in response to the cancer tumor causing insulin resistance in the cells of the body. The resistance prevents glucose availability to the cells. Graves believes that cinnamon might help overcome this resistance. “It’s speculative but exciting,” he said. Recent studies have shown that insulin resistance may also be involved in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, according to Graves. (Medical News Today 14/4/2004).


NIDDK What is type 2 diabetes

Karalee J. Jarvill-Taylor, Richard A. Anderson, Donald J. Graves. A Hydroxychalcone Derived from Cinnamon Functions as a Mimetic for Insulin in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 20, No. 4,).

Qin B, Nagasaki M, Ren M, Bajotto G, Oshida Y, Sato Y. Cinnamon extract (traditional herb) potentiates in vivo insulin-regulated glucose utilization via enhancing insulin signaling in rats. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2003 Dec;62(3):139-48.

Khan A, Safdar M, Ali Khan MM, Khattak KN, Anderson RA. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2003 Dec;26(12):3215-8.

Kim SH, Hyun SH, Choung SY. Anti-diabetic effect of cinnamon extract on blood glucose in db/db mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Mar 8;104(1-2):119-23. Epub 2005 Oct 5.

Qin B, Nagasaki M, Ren M, Bajotto G, Oshida Y, Sato Y. Cinnamon extract prevents the insulin resistance induced by a high-fructose diet. Horm Metab Res. 2004 Feb;36(2):119-25.

Mang B, Wolters M, Schmitt B, Kelb K, Lichtinghagen R, Stichtenoth DO, Hahn A. Effects of a cinnamon extract on plasma glucose, HbA, and serum lipids in diabetes mellitus type 2. Eur J Clin Invest. 2006 May;36(5):340-4.

Copyright 2007 KevinFlatt. Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is presented for information purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. It cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment.

February 11, 2007

Depressed? Drink Tea

Written by Kevin Flatt

Researchers at the Kuopio University Hospital in Finland, using a questionnaire to 2011 people in the general Finnish population, found that those who reported drinking tea daily were less depressed than the others. In fact none of those whose daily tea intake was five cups or more had depression suggesting that those who drink tea daily may have a significantly reduced risk of being depressed.

They concluded that an inverse relationship between daily tea drinking and the risk of being depressed was found in a relatively large general population sample.


Hintikka J, Tolmunen T, Honkalampi K, Haatainen K, Koivumaa-Honkanen H, Tanskanen A, Viinamaki H. Daily tea drinking is associated with a low level of depressive symptoms in the Finnish general population. Eur J Epidemiol. 2005;20(4):359-63.

February 9, 2007

Diabetes: Cloves improve insulin function, lowers glucose

Written by Kevin Flatt

One of two studies presented at the Experimental Biology 2006 meeting, in San Francisco, demonstrated that extracts of cloves were found to improve the function of insulin and to lower glucose, total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes. Earlier studies had shown these positive effects in laboratory studies; the study presented at Experimental Biology provides the first evidence of these beneficial effects in humans taking the equivalent of one to two cloves per day. Dr. Alam Khan, Agricultural University, Peshawar, Pakistan, a former postdoctoral student and Fulbright Fellow in the Anderson laboratory, reports the first study of the effect of cloves on insulin function in humans. (Medical News Today 9/4/2006).

The clove study involved 36 men and women diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Three groups of patients consumed either one, two or three grams of cloves for 30 days in capsule form, while a fourth consumed none of the spice. At the end of the study, regardless of the amount of cloves consumed, all those who ingested cloves showed a drop in glucose, triglycerides and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. Blood levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol were not affected among the clove eaters. Those who did not ingest cloves experienced no changes. (HealthDay News 5/4/2006).

Dr. Khan says the finding that intake of 1 to 3 grams of cloves per day lowered risk factors of diabetes without changing HDL [cholesterol] concentration suggest strongly that cloves are beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes. (Medical News Today 9/4/2006).

“The people who would benefit the most are those who have impairments in their blood sugar,” said Anderson. “These are the 40 million people with metabolic syndrome who are pre-diabetic, people with type 2 diabetes, and even the severely diabetic and the severely overweight - although they may not benefit as much because the impairments in their insulin are much, much worse.” (HealthDay News 5/4/2006).

Co-authors of the study in addition to Dr. Khan and Dr. Anderson are Dr. Syed Saceed Qadir, Agricultural University, Peshawar, Pakistan, and Dr. Khan Nawaz Khattak, HMC, Hayatabad, Peshawar, Pakistan. The research was supported by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan.

“This abstract extends this work to humans and demonstrates that consumption of as little as 1 g of cloves by people with type 2 diabetes leads to improvements in blood sugar, insulin, cholesterol, and triglycerides,” Anderson commented. “The major contribution of this study is that it demonstrated that consumption of cloves may be important in the alleviation of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in humans.” (Medscape Medical News April 4, 2006).

Cloves contains significant amounts of an active component called eugenol, which has made it the subject of numerous health studies, including studies on the prevention of toxicity from environmental pollutants like carbon tetrachloride, digestive tract cancers, and joint inflammation. Clove also contains a variety of flavonoids, including kaempferol and rhamnetin, which also contribute to clove’s anti-inflammatory (and antioxidant) properties. Cloves are an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids and a good source of calcium and magnesium. (WHF The George Mateljan Foundation).

Indian researchers, reporting in the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids in 2000, compared the antioxidant properties of seven spice extracts (garlic, ginger, onion, mint, cloves, cinnamon and pepper). They found the highest antioxidant activities in cloves, followed by cinnamon, pepper, ginger, garlic, mint and onion. The antioxidant activity of these spice extracts were retained even after boiling for 30 min at 100 degrees C, indicating that the active components are not destroyed by heat. (Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids 2000 Feb;62(2):107-10).




Shobana S, Naidu KA. Antioxidant activity of selected Indian spices. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2000 Feb;62(2):107-10.


Murcia MA, Egea I, Romojaro F, Parras P, Jimenez AM, Martinez-Tome M. Antioxidant evaluation in dessert spices compared with common food additives. Influence of irradiation procedure. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Apr 7;52(7):1872-81.

Copyright 2007 KevinFlatt. Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is presented for information purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. It cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment.

February 7, 2007

Cinnamon Improves Cognitive Function

Written by Kevin Flatt

Recent research shows that cinnamon does more than just ward off diabetes and heart disease - it also makes you smarter. That’s what a recent study determined after administering cinnamon, both orally and nasally, to adults. Both “real” cinnamon and cinnamon flavored items, such as gum, were effective in enhancing the participants’ cognitive function. (Society for the Study of Investigative Behavior (abstract), 2/8/05).

Phillip Zoladz, of Belmont, Ohio and 2004 Wheeling Jesuit University graduate is turning heads in the scientific world with his innovative research that supports what scientists have long hypothesized: the sense of smell can have a significant impact on human behavior and functioning. His study revealed that cinnamon’s odor can improve memory and visual-motor response speed, which means the spice has the potential to benefit people with a range of problems. (Wheeling Jesuit University).


Zoladz P, Raudenbush B, Lilley S, "Impact of the chemical senses on augmenting memory, attention, reaction time, problem solving, and response variability: The differential role of retronasal versus orthonasal odorant administration," Society for the Study of Investigative Behavior (abstract),

February 6, 2007

Taurine restores active and passive smokers blood vessels to normal

Written by Kevin Flatt

While the use of taurine, an amino acid in fish, will not help a person quit smoking, it can help reverse the damage done by continued smoking.

Please note I do not advocate or support smoking. However, as many people find it very difficult to quit, any information that may help prevent damage caused by smoking should be presented. Also one has to think about passive smoking.

An Irish study published in the journal Circulation in January 2003 showed that taurine, an amino acid in fish, can help protect smokers from heart disease and stroke by restoring normal blood vessel function. Based on previous research, the researchers hypothesized that taurine supplementation in doses similar to the daily intake of 100 grams of fish would restore to normal the FMD response in otherwise-healthy, young, chronic cigarette smokers. FMD stands for flow mediated dilation, which takes ultrasound images of blood vessel diameter in the arm after a tourniquet is placed on the forearm. (Circulation. 2003 Jan 28;107(3):410-5).

It was previously found in a worldwide population study on dietary prevention and cardiovascular disease, the Cardiovascular Diseases and Alimentary Comparison (CARDIAC) study, that an average of 100 grams of fish per day was sufficient to keep coronary artery disease mortality as low as that in the Japanese race. (WHO, Geneva: Shimane, 1986.).

Cigarette smoke produces changes in the blood vessels, causing them to become more rigid and less flexible. This rigidity prevents the vessels from dilating in response to increased blood flow, resulting in a condition called endothelial dysfunction, an early sign of atherosclerosis and a primary cause of heart attacks and stroke.

Dr. David J. Bouchier-Hayes, professor of surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin and colleagues recruited 15 healthy smokers’ aged 20 to 37 and 15 healthy non-smoking volunteers. Initially, non-smokers’ blood vessel diameter was 3.39 mm and smokers’ diameter was 3.33. Before treatment, FMD increased dilation in non-smokers to 3.7 mm, while smokers’ vessels were virtually unchanged at 3.36 mm after FMD. When the smokers’ were given taurine, their vessel response was the same as the non-smokers’ at 3.7 mm after FMD. (ScienceDaily January 7, 2003).

Simply put: Initially, the smokers’ blood vessel diameter was smaller than that of the non-smokers. But after taking 1.5 grams of taurine per day for five days, the smokers’ blood vessel diameters increased, equalling that of the non-smokers.

The loss of a normal FMD response has previously been reported in the brachial arteries of both active and passive smokers using the ultrasonic evaluation used in the present study. (Circulation. 2003 Jan 28;107(3):410-5).

Taurine is available at most health food stores.

Again, let me reiterate that I am in no way promoting smoking! If any damage can be prevented in those who cannot quit (and the passive smokers’ around them), then the information may help save lives and government costs.


Fennessy FM, Moneley DS, Wang JH, Kelly CJ, Bouchier-Hayes DJ. Taurine and vitamin C modify monocyte and endothelial dysfunction in young smokers. Circulation. 2003 Jan 28;107(3):410-5.

WHO and WHO Collaborating Centres. CARDIAC (Cardiovascular Diseases and Alimentary Comparison) Study Protocol. Geneva: Shimane, 1986.


Copyright 2007 KevinFlatt. Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is presented for information purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. It cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment.

February 2, 2007

Aloe vera: a natural food preservative

Written by Kevin Flatt

Researchers in Spain say they have developed a gel from the tropical aloe vera plant that can be used as an edible coating to prolong the quality and safety of fresh produce. The gel, which does not appear to affect food taste or appearance, shows promise as a safe, natural and environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional synthetic preservatives that are currently applied to produce after harvesting, the researchers say. Composed mostly of polysaccharides, the gel appears to act as a natural barrier to moisture and oxygen, which can speed food deterioration. The study showed that grapes coated with this gel could be preserved for 35 days against 7 days for untreated grapes. (Medical News Today 22/9/2005).


Copyright 2007 Kevin Flatt. Reproduction of any information on other websites is PROHIBITED.

Disclaimer: The information and opinions on this website is for information purposes only and is believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author. Readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. Readers who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.