The use of cinnamon for improving menstrual cyclicity and metabolic dysfunction in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) has been circulating for years. Preliminary results of a study conducted at Columbia University and being presented in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology add to the evidence supporting the spice as a possible treatment option for some women with PCOS.
The study authors, Daniel H. Kort, MD, and Roger A. Lobo, MD, of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility, department of obstetrics and gynecology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, randomized 45 women to take cinnamon (1.5 g/d) or a placebo. Of these 45 women, 26 completed 3 months of the study and 17 completed the entire 6 months of the study. The primary purpose of this follow-up study was to determine whether cinnamon can restore menstrual cyclicity in PCOS subjects with oligomenorrhea.
The results showed that menstrual cycles were more frequent in women taking cinnamon compared with women taking placebo. Random samples of serum from the luteal phase from which progesterone levels were measured confirmed ovulatory menses (n=5). However, insulin resistance or serum androgen levels did not change for either study group (cinnamon vs placebo), reported the study authors.
“These preliminary data suggest that cinnamon supplementation improves menstrual cyclicity and may be an effective treatment option for some women with PCOS,” concluded Drs Kort and Lobo.
An endocrine gland disorder in women of reproductive age, PCOS is associated with diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, obesity, endometrial hyperplasia or cancer, menstrual irregularity, and infertility. This study was based on the following explanation from the division’s web page:
“Research has implicated the pathogenic role of insulin resistance and compensatory hyperinsulinemia in the impediment of ovulation and in the development hyperandrogenism. Growing evidence indicates that high insulin levels mediate increased ovarian androgen production, resulting in anovulation and infertility. Agents improving insulin resistance, and therefore reducing hyperinsulinemia, theoretically may result in reduced ovarian and serum androgen levels. Cinnamon has been found to have insulin-sensitizing effects in both animal and human studies; our own prospective randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study involving 15 women with PCOS demonstrated significant reductions in fasting glucose and insulin-resistance parameters after eight weeks of oral cinnamon extract. However, the short duration of treatment and small sample size precluded us from evaluating clinical outcomes.
“The primary purpose of this follow-up study is to determine if cinnamon can restore menstrual cyclicity in PCOS subjects with oligomenorrhea. We also intend to confirm the salutary effect of cinnamon on insulin resistance in a larger group of study subjects. The primary outcome of our study will be the number of menses during the six-month study period.”