PCOS, Insulin Resistance, and Cinnamon, oh my!
PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a syndrome made up of a collection of symptoms that is essentially a result of hormonal dysfunction1. The hormonal dysfunction is often caused by hyperandrogenism,too many androgens like testosterone, circulating in the body. Complications that are often associated with this hormonal dysregulation are irregular periods, weight gain, increased hair growth in unwanted places, hyperinsulinemia and infertility. PCOS can be difficult to live with and if polycystic ovaries themselves are not the cause of dysfunction, often this syndrome is completely reversible with lifestyle changes.
Hyperinsulinemia, a common complication that drives the pathogenesis of PCOS is when there is too much insulin in your blood 2. Insulin is a hormone that signals the cells in your body to uptake the sugar in the blood so your blood sugar does not get too high after a meal. However, there are certain situations that cause the cells in your body to become insulin resistant. This means the cells are no longer responding to the signal from insulin, so they stop “opening up the door” for the sugar to enter the cells. The sugar stays in the blood and your blood sugar levels rise. When this happens your pancreas thinks there is not enough insulin so it continues to pump it out into the blood to get the message across to your cells. Now there’s too much insulin and glucose in the bloodstream and not enough in the cells to keep them functioning properly. It’s like if a delivery truck showed up to a warehouse but no one let them in.
The best way to treat hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia is through a dietary approach. The goal here is to increase insulin sensitivity to the cells in your body and that is usually done by removing as much sugar and processed carbohydrates from the diet as possible. Eating a diet that is rich in plants, moderate in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates is a fast and effective way to increase insulin sensitivity. Another option to add to this dietary change is adding in a supplement like Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) to your treatment plan. Anywhere between 1-6g a day of Cinnamon either in capsule or tincture form has be shown to lower blood sugar levels and in turn, lower insulin levels. In addition to lowering your glucose levels, it also has the ability to lower your blood lipid levels. This means he fat circulating in your blood stream can be reduced along with your risk for cardiovascular disease. Treating insulin resistance and hyperglycemia can also subsequently help reduce obesity in many patients. These symptoms will collectively lead to an improvement in PCOS symptoms. Ask your Naturopathic Doctor today if Cinnamon is an option that would work well for you and your treatment plan.
- Escobar-Morreale HF. Polycystic ovary syndrome: definition, etiology, diagnosis and treatment. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2018 May;14(5):270-284
- 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;26(12):3215-3218. doi:10.2337/diacare.26.12.3215