Thursday, September 30, 2010

Two Kinds of Cinnamon

We want to give special attention to that most controversial of all the Ayurvedic herbs for type 2 diabetes, cinnamon. One of the ongoing questions about cinnamon is whether the kind of cinnamon people in Europe and most of the English-speaking world use is the same kind of cinnamon tested as a treatment for diabetes.

It's not. It's as simple as that.

The kind of cinnamon tested as a treatment for type 2 diabetes is Chinese cinnamon, known in botany as Cinnamomum cassia. The kind of cinnamon hundreds of millions of people consume with their cinnamon rolls is Ceylon cinnamon, Cinnamomum zeylanicum. More than just the Latin names are different.

Chinese cinnamon is bitter. Ceylon cinnamon is aromatic. The bark used to make Chinese cinnamon is grayish. The bark used to make Ceylon cinnamon is reddish. And in the words of world-renowned spice botanist Gernot Katzer, "Cassia bark contains significantly more slime (11%) than Ceylon cinnamon bark."

Slime slows down digestion of sugars, and for most type 2 diabetics most of the time, that is a good thing. However, there are other chemical considerations we'll mention a little later.

In southern India, by the way, the word for cinnamon describes yet another herb, the one we in the English-speaking world call cloves. Don't try to keep up with all the distinctions. Just look for Cinnamomum cassia on the label, if you choose to take cinnamon as an aid for type 2 diabetes.

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