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Spice Up PCOS Therapies: The Role of Cinnamon: Page 2 of 2

Spice Up PCOS Therapies: The Role of Cinnamon: Page 2 of 2

Merely referring patients to a nutritionist or certified dietician not only “passes the buck” but also adds another item to our patients’ already long to-do list, which itself may be an obstacle in convincing our patients to adopt a lifestyle change. Furthermore, insurance coverage issues may add to their expenses, which may be an additional impediment. Simple guidelines (as those put forth here) along with educational materials may be just the impetus some patients need to commit to change. Remember to schedule follow-up visits so that they are incentivized to report progress to you.

Nutritional Therapy 

Table. Examples of PCOS Friendly Foods

Lean Proteins

White meat chicken

Egg whites

Beans/Legumes

Soy

Nuts

Heart-Healthy Fats

Olive oil

Soybeans

Nuts

Fish

Corn

Good Carbohydrates/
Foods With Low Glycemic Index

Whole grain bread

Brown rice

Barley

Couscous

Quinoa

Oat bran

Beans

Berries

Apples

A general PCOS diet should be low in fat, predominantly plant-based, and comprised of lean protein and heart-healthy fats. Saturated and trans fats should be avoided, as should “junk food”—all of the obvious foods, including sugary drinks, sugared cereals, candy, cakes, cookies, ice cream, and salty and processed foods. Very importantly, patients should choose carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index (GI). Good carbohydrate choices, or those with a low GI, include whole-grain and high-fiber foods. (Whole grain foods are those made from the entire grain seed, which includes bran, germ, and endosperm.)

GI is a measurement of the potential of foods to raise blood glucose levels. Therefore, if a woman has insulin resistance because of PCOS, her ability to maintain normal to low blood glucose levels and to avoid spikes in blood glucose levels will have a direct affect on certain PCOS symptoms.

The Role of Cinnamon

Most recently, there has been interest in the use of cinnamon to reduce insulin resistance in PCOS and even improve menstruation and fertility. Cinnamomum cassia’s active component, cinnamaldehyde, is most likely responsible for this biochemical interplay.

Cinnamon is available in a supplement powder or capsule, and the typical daily dose is 1 to 6 g. One teaspoon of cinnamon extract equals 3 g. Misuse of cinnamon is not benign. Significantly larger doses may cause gastrointestinal irritation, causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If cinnamon powder is inhaled, upper respiratory tract irritation may occur.

The benefits of cinnamon have been studied in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, in 2013, an FDA double-blinded clinical trial examining the use of cinnamon in patients with PCOS was performed at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. The trial included 45 women with PCOS who were given either 1500 mg cinnamon supplements or placebo for 6 months. Although only 16 patients completed the trial—11 in the treatment group and 5 in the placebo group—the findings were encouraging. Patients who were randomized to the cinnamon group had improved menstrual cyclicity at the end of 6 months compared with those in the placebo group (3.82 cycles vs 2.2 cycles, respectively). Furthermore, 2 spontaneous pregnancies occurred in the treatment group.

PCOS, as with many other medical disorders today, may be reasonably managed with lifestyle modifications (weight loss, regular exercise, and a low GI diet) and perhaps even naturally with cinnamon. As clinicians, we must educate and encourage our patients accordingly.

Pages

References

Lobo RA. The complexities of polycystic ovarian syndrome. In: Advances in Gynecology. New York, NY: New York–Presbyterian; Oct/Nov 2013.

Redfern J. Combating polycystic ovary disease through diet. March 23, 2012. Available here. Accessed February 12, 2014.

Thompson J, Manore M. Nutrition for Life. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc; 2012.

 
 
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