Can You Treat Diabetes with Cinnamon?

Cinnamon, the dried and ground bark of an evergreen tree that grows in the tropics, may have greater benefits than anyone could ever have imagined. Although it has been used as a natural remedy for generations, recent studies support the belief that cinnamon can help in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.

Since the publication of a study conducted by the Agricultural Research Unit in Maryland in 2000, there has been a lot of interest in cinnamon’s therapeutic value in enhancing the effects of insulin on the body.

One of the chemical compounds in cinnamon, hydroxychalcone has been shown to lower blood glucose levels, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, prompting some experts to recommend the addition of a daily dose of cinnamon to the diet of diabetics.

Although the research is ongoing, it is believed that cinnamon augments the ability of fat cells to absorb glucose and remove it from the bloodstream. Studies with mice have been very encouraging, and human testing is currently underway.

More About Type 2 Diabetes

Commonly afflicting people in middle to old age, Type 2 diabetes develops slowly and is marked by a gradual increase in insulin resistance. It is typically treated with diet modification, augmented by insulin or related drugs if necessary. As the baby boomer generation ages, more and more people will be diagnosed with this illness, and finding a safe and economical treatment is a hot topic in medical research.

One of the key advantages to using cinnamon or a cinnamon derivative to help in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes is that it does not have the inherent risks of insulin inhalers or injection. There are also side benefits in that cinnamon supplements are also showing promise in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and kidney disorders. It may even help fight infection.

Check With a Medical Professional Before Using Cinnamon as a Medication

Before making any changes to your current treatment, check with your healthcare provider. It is possible that self-medicating with cinnamon could cause a precipitous drop in glucose levels if you are currently taking prescribed diabetes medications like insulin or sulfonylureas. The ingestion of cassia cinnamon has also been linked to instances of liver damage. Just because it's your favorite flavoring ingredient on breakfast pastry doesn't mean cinnamon is safe to use in large doses without expert evaluation and guidance.
Cinnamon Capsule (courtesy of Satish)

Many herbal remedies are being reevaluated as possible aids in the treatment of illness. Cinnamon is the latest in a long list of herbs and spices that have been shown to provide surprising and unexpected benefits. If you have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, or know someone who has, explore the possibility of cinnamon as an aid in treatment. You might just discover that the answer to your problem was right in your spice rack all along.

Cinnamon Tea Recipe

If the notion of adding a little flavorful and non-fattening cinnamon goodness to your afternoon appeals to you, try making cinnamon tea.  It isn't necessarily therapeutic, but it is naturally sweet and smells amazing.  Here's the simple recipe:

1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon (or one teabag)of your favorite blended tea (I like oolong)
8 ounces boiling water
1 tablespoon honey, optional (sugar or artificial sweetener works too)


Pour boiling water over teabag and cinnamon.
Steep for 10 minutes.
Sweeten to taste.


Cinnamon and Diabetes, Web MD.

Cinnamon for Diabetes? A Half Teaspoon A Day Could Help Control Cholesterol. 

M. Regina Castro, M.D. Is it true that cinnamon can lower blood sugar in people who have diabetes? Mayo Clinic.


Putting Together Your First Dedicated Herb Garden

Herbs play well with other plants. In fact, many of them (like rue, catnip, garlic and marigold) make good companion plants for pest control with vegetables and flowers. (When you don't want to use pesticides, companion planting can save you a lot of headaches.) You may even have a lavender plant (at your garden gate, of course), or a rosemary bush as a privacy screen. That's all a little different from having a dedicated herb patch.

Herbs may not be the most beautiful plants around. In fact, some of them can get leggy (that's a polite term for scraggly), and have unimpressive little flowers that look cheerful but hardly photo worthy. Still, there's something magical about a dedicated herb garden. I hate to admit it, but I think it may have something to do with power. It's a powerful feeling, knowing you can run out to a central spot in your garden (say next to the back door) and harvest everything you need for a nice soup, stew or salad in less time than it takes to heat a cup of tea in the microwave.

It's also a pretty nice feeling come harvest time when you realize all that foliage is enough raw material to make herb wreaths, potpourris, herb blends, teas, remedies -- and still have enough left over for next year's seed.

If you're planning an herb garden this season, I've written a number of posts that can help. If I can figure out the CAD software I bought a few seasons ago, I may be compiling some herb layouts that can help, too. While your garden is still in the planning stages, take a look at these past posts for some timely tips:

Planning Your First Herb Garden 

5 Herb Growing Quick Tips

10 Herbs for Your Spring Garden 

 Top 10 Most Overlooked Herbs

Photo by .Saintfevrier at el.wikipedia [CC-BY-3.0-gr (], from Wikimedia Commons


Homemade Spice Blends -Tuesday Odds and Ends

Herbs and spices enhance the foods you prepare -- no doubt. Sometimes they add new flavors; sometimes they're so subtle they manage to make the native flavors of ingredients more vivid without standing out themselves. Black pepper, paprika and nutmeg are some examples that come to mind.

It isn't surprising you can find lots of spice blends at your local market. From pickling spice to pumpkin spice to blends that work well with, say, shellfish (like Old Bay), seasonings add savor to food.

They do it the easy way, too. Granny used to put a nice chicken or beef stock on to simmer in a process that sometimes took 24 hours and a dozen different steps. Today we might have 24 minutes to get a whole meal on the table. Flavorful, wholesome herb and spice blends help us do that.

Over the years, I've perfected some herb and spice recipes for my own use, including flavored salts and sugars. I whip them up as needed throughout the year. I like preparing them in small batches because that way I control the ingredients -- and, well, it's fun. It's cost effective, too. I grow many (most) of the herbs, and buy the spices in bulk.

I also prepare blends as special gifts. They make nice hostess and holiday gifts. It's easy to experiment, too.  Here's an example: Say you decide to make stew. You add thyme, rosemary, a bay leaf, black pepper and a little marjoram. It turns out great. Remember the proportions, increase the quantities and create a blend of your own.

Take Control of Your Herb Rack

I also have better control over what's in an herb blend if I make it myself. There are a number of issues to consider, from how much sodium and filler may be in a product, to how long it's been sitting in a warehouse somewhere. I can also grow herb varieties I know are flavorful when used in cooking, like Italian oregano or flat leaf parsley.

If I grow an herb in the garden, then I'm not relying on an imported product, or a product picked wild in conditions that are a big question mark to me. I'm sure most herb wholesalers do fine work. I've purchased from many of them over the years and still do. I like maintaining start to finish oversight if I can, though.

Herb Blend Recipes

For my Odds and Ends post today, here are a few past blogs that contain herb blend recipes. The ingredient lists may give you an idea of what you'll want to grow yourself or buy from a trusted retailer in larger volumes than you would otherwise:

Bouquet Garni
Cajun Spice Blend
Herbes de Provence
Lavender Pepper
Lavender Salt
Lavender Sugar
Lemon Sugar
Old Bay Seasoning
Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
Sloppy Joe Seasoning
Spiced Sugar
Tea Rub
Vanilla sugar

If you like having a homey looking kitchen, full jars of individual herbs and blends look wonderful on an open shelf or lined up on a counter, and having lots of culinary options at your fingertips is a powerful -- and powerfully good -- feeling.

Photo 1 -  courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian at Stock.Xchng
Photo 2 -  courtesy of  Sarka Sevcikova at Stock Xchng


Spicy Apple Recipes

Baked Apples
Your thoughts may be on warmer days, but while winter is still in full force, it might be a good time to experiment with a couple of apple recipes. Apples make flavorful dessert ingredients, and with the right compliment of spices, they can be a delicious end to a meal.

I have a couple of favorites below. I like making them this time of year. They reheat well the next day with ice cream or melted cheese (an old timey option that's surprisingly good).

Making late winter apple dishes always reminds me of the good old days. About this time of year, the root cellar would be getting bare, and those apples stored in the barn would be wrinkly and probably only good for cooking. If you want to squirrel away a few apples next season, lose the picturesque straw. Wrap each apple in a sheet of newsprint and place the batch in a cool location. These are some varieties that store well: Fuji, Golden Delicious and Braeburn.

Give one of these apple recipes a try before the temperatures warm up. You'll like the blend of spices and love all those scents permeating the kitchen. They make good Sunday dessert fare when the kids are home and the furnace is working overtime.


Spicy Baked Apple Recipe


4 Granny Smith apples
4 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup apple cider or juice
1/4 cup brown sugar (light)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 inch slice of fresh ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger)
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch allspice powder
1 pinch ground cardamom (if you have it)
Lemon juice

Directions for Spicy Baked Apples

  1. Wash apples and remove tops, cores, seeds and stems.
  2. Brush lightly with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan and add the sugar, spices and half the apple cider. Stir until the spices begin to release their aromas (and essential oils), about 60 seconds. Be careful not to burn the butter. (Note: if using fresh ginger, just place it in the saucepan with the rest of the spices and remove it when everything has melted and blended.
  4. Pour the other half of the apple cider into a non-metal baking dish and top with the apples (cut side up)
  5. Spoon equal amounts of sauce into the well of each apple. (I sometimes also add a few raisins or dried cherries and walnut pieces. I like raisins and nuts but no everyone in the family is keen for them.)
  6. Cook in the middle rack of a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes or until tender.
  7. Serve warm with the sauce from the bottom of the pan drizzled back over the apples.
For a more indulgent dessert, place a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream into the depression in the apple and sprinkle a little nutmeg over the top. You can also place a couple of tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese in the depression and pop the apples back into the oven until the cheese melts (2 to 3 minutes).
Serves 4

Apple Crisp

Spicy Apple Crisp Recipe



7 Granny Smith apples (about 6 cups sliced)
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick cook oats
1/2 cup softened butter
1tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger (you can also use ginger syrup or ginger Sherry)
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. allspice powder
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground cardamom (if you have it)

Directions for Spicy Apple Crips

  1. Peel, core and thinly slice apples.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a non-reactive (not metal) baking pan.
  3. Spread apples in an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  4. In medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, oats and spices. Cut remaining butter into the mixture until you achieve the consistency of coarsely chopped nuts.
  5. Sprinkle the mixture over the over apples.
  6. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 45 minutes or until the topping is golden and the apples are tender.
Granny Smith Apples
On special occasions, add a scoop of ice cream and drizzle caramel sauce over the top.

These are Granny Smith apples.  They're good for all types of baking projects.

1 - By Brücke-Osteuropa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

2 - By Pattie (Apple Crisp) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

3 - By Nicole-Koehler (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3


Monday Odds and Ends

Happy Monday. If the cold weather is getting you down, try making yourself a cup of soothing lemon balm tea. Lemon balm has natural antidepressant properties, so it may help brighten your outlook until the clouds clear. Throw in some chamomile for its calming effects, too. If you're not growing lemon balm in your garden, put it on your list for spring planting. It's a member of the mint family and very easy to maintain. It's handy in the kitchen and useful in a number of home remedies, too.

Be Savvi - If you have a moment, head over to the Savvi Savings Site to discover why there's gold in your vegetable drawer. I'm a contributor to their blog, and today's post contains lists of fresh fruits and veggies: those best kept refrigerated; those best kept at room temperature; and items best ripened at room temperature and then stored in the fridge.

You'll find tips on ripening produce artificially, and there's also a list of produce items you can grow into plants. The list includes a few you may not know about like pomegranates and mangos (from seed). Finding Gold in Your Vegetable Drawer

Check out a Few Essential Oil

If you've been planning to start a collection of essential oils, here are a couple of suggestions:

Lavender oil - Lavender added to potpourri, or just a handful of dried lavender buds, can be used in aromatherapy as an aid to relaxation. The linalyl acetate in lavender works to ease tight muscles, especially the muscles of the neck and back. If you keep a dish of lavender buds in your bathroom and refresh them with a few drops of essential oil weekly, you'll have a sweet smelling bathroom and a relaxing environment for a hot bath. It never lets me down. For the guest bath, I have a stoppered bottle. When I want to release some lavender fragrance to freshen the room, I just remove the cork for a few hours.

Peppermint oil - Peppermint oil is great at improving concentration, and it can refresh the inside of a pair of stinky sneakers, too. If you have a headache, add a couple of drops to simmering potpourri or place a drop on a moistened handkerchief and inhale the aroma for a minute or so.

Pine or rosemary oil - If that pine scented candle from Christmas has lost its fragrance, add a couple of drops of essential oil to the hot wax. (Light the candle and wait 10 minutes for a little wax to melt; then add three to five drops of oil to the wax.) It's one way to add oomph to an old candle and get your money's worth to the very bottom of the wick. Your Christmas tree may be history, but the smell of pine or rosemary can still inspire magic.


 Start Saving for Spring Gardening

Repurpose your Plastics - If you're planning your gardening projects, start saving your two liter bottles and plastic milk jugs. They're great for starting plants or creating water reservoirs in potted patio or deck plants. They also make handy traps for mosquitoes. You can find links to great projects using two liter bottles and jugs on my Pinterest Gardening Ideas board (There's a thumbnail link at the bottom of this page. Just click through.) 

Have a great week.


Perennial Herbs - Hardiness Zones and More

Borage Blossoms
I've put together a list of perennial herbs and their respective hardiness zones. If you don't know your hardiness zone, follow the link to find out. Armed with that information, the list will give you a good idea of the herbs that will grow for you outdoors year round: USDA Hardiness Zone Map

If you see an herb you'd love to cultivate but it's not suited to your growing zone, there are still a few things you can do: You can grow the plant in a pot and bring it indoors in winter. This actually works for many herbs. You can also treat the plant like an annual and replant every year.

If an herb on the list is marginal, say the difference between a and b within a zone, or just over the border into a different zone (5 degrees colder in winter than recommended), it may still survive in a protected spot, like in an alcove between two buildings or between a building and a solid fence. The plant may also have new cultivars available that are somewhat more winter hardy than the original. As a backup plan, you can go ahead and try that herb in your garden and make sure you mulch it well in the fall.

Remember, we're talking about perennial plants, not annuals. Annuals set seed and die over the course of a single season, so winter conditions aren't typically a factor. I've listed some annuals at the bottom of the page for reference purposes only.

Perennial Herbs

Aloe Vera

Angelica (Angelica archangelica) Zones 4-9
Culinary, medicinal, landscape
Angelica has a sweet flavor and grows to 5 feet. It prefers rich soil and plenty of water.

Aloe Vera (Aloe vera) Zones 10-11
Medicinal and cosmetic herb
If you only choose five herbs for your garden, make aloe vera one of them. It's effective at treating bee stings and burns, and is a key ingredient in many cosmetic preparations. It's not winter hardy, but it does overwinters indoors easily.

Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) Zones 8-10
Culinary, medicinal and pest repellent tree
Bay is a tree rather than a shrub or plant. It can be challenging to establish, but once it begins to thrive, it makes a satisfying houseplant, patio plant or landscape tree.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) Zones 3-9
Culinary, medicinal and landscape herb
Catnip is a member of the mint family. It's a favorite companion plant in the vegetable garden because its strong smell repels many common garden pests. Current Forest Service research suggests catnip may be effective at repelling termites, too. Catnip makes a refreshing tea that's also a natural sedative.

Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) Zones 5-8
Culinary and medicinal herb
Dried chamomile flowers are a favorite in tea.  They have relaxing qualities and a slightly sweet apple (or possibly hay) aroma.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) Zones 3-9
Culinary herb
Chive vinegar is a spring favorite and very easy to make with a first harvest of chive flowers. Having chives growing near your kitchen makes it easy to use as a garnish.

Comfrey, Common (Symphytum officinale) Zones 3-8
Chives (pretty, aren't they)

Medicinal herb also known as knit bone. 

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) Zones 3-10
Medicinal herb most often used to increase immune system function.
Produces purple daisy-like flowers in mid-summer.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) Zones 5-9
Medicinal herb
Feverfew has shown promise in treating migraine headaches, and may also offer some relief from arthritis pain. The leaves can be added to salads or sandwiches or used in tea. Feverfew produces lacy leaves and attractive daisy-like flowers.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) Zones 9-13
Culinary and medicinal herb
Ginger is an attractive garden plant that likes dappled light.  Its root is used in cooking and to treat stomach upsets. It's a key ingredient in teriyaki marinade. Although it isn't winter hardy, ginger does well indoors and makes an attractive houseplant.

Lavender, English (Lavandula angustifolia) Zones 5-8
Culinary, medicinal and aromatic herb
Lavender is one of the most beloved herbs grown today. English lavender makes an attractive landscape plant, and the flowers can be harvested and used in cooking, to make cosmetic preparations, and in crafts like lavender wand, lavender scented candles and herb wreaths.

French Lavender
Lavender, French (Lavandula stoechas) Zones 8-9
Culinary, medicinal, aromatic and landscape herb
French lavender is not winter hardy and smells like a mixture of lavender, rosemary and camphor.

Lavender, Grosso (Lavandula 'Grosso') zones 5-9
Culinary, cosmetic and aromatic herb
Considered one of the most, if not the most, aromatic lavender variety

Lavender, Spanish
(Lavandula dentata) Zones 8-9
Culinary, aromatic and medicinal herb
This lavender isn't winter hardy, but it does thrive indoors.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) Zones 5-9
Culinary, medicinal and aromatic herb
This member of the mint family has a light, lemony fragrance and is often added to tea blends. It promotes relaxation. It's also used in cooking, aromatic crafts and herbal remedies. It makes a nice addition to green salad and is an attractive garnish. If you like the aroma of furniture polish, you'll like lemon balm.

Lemon Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora) Zones 9-10
Culinary, medicinal and pest repellent tree
Lemon eucalyptus is a tree rather than a shrub or plant. The leaves have a lemony fragrance and can be used in household cleaning and pest repelling preparations. The leaves can also be used in potpourri.

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) Zones 11- 13
Culinary, medicinal and aromatic herb
Lemongrass makes a refreshing tea and is often used as an ingredient in cooking.

Marjoram (Origanum vulgare) Zones 4-8
Culinary and medicinal herb
Marjoram is sometimes used to treat minor ailments like cough and sore throat. It's also used in regional Italian and Greek cuisine. Marjoram is related to oregano.

Mint (multiple) Zones 4 -9
Culinary, aromatic and medicinal herb
Mints are typically winter hardy and easy to grow. Some appealing varieties are: peppermint, spearmint, mojito mint, chocolate mint, applemint and orange mint. Check the zone range for other varieties before buying. For instance, Corsican mint requires a warmer zone range of between 7 and 9, and ginger mint requires a range of between 6 and 9.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) Zones 5-12
Culinary and medicinal herb
Popular in Italian and Greek cooking. Italian oregano is widely considered the best cultivar for culinary applications.

Rosemary Starts
Parsley (Petroselinum - ) Zones 6-9
Culinary herb
Available in curly (or double curly) and flat-leaf (Italian) varieties. Curly parsley is typically used as a garnish, while flat leaf parsley is preferred as an ingredient in cooking. Both are biennial (They leaf out the first season and come back the second season to flower, set seed and die.)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Zones 8-11
Culinary, medicinal and landscape herb
 Some new rosemary cultivars (Madalene Hill or Arp) may be hardy to zone 5.

Rue (Ruta graveolens) zones 5-9
Culinary, medicinal and landscape herb
Rue is an attractive little plant that has ovulate leaves that look lacy and distinctive. Its bitter leaves add variety to salads. It's shown some effectiveness in treating headaches, but really shines in the landscape. Many garden pests dislike the aroma of rue and stay away. With garlic, it's an excellent companion plant for roses.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) Zones 5-9
Culinary and medicinal herb
Salvia officinalis is most often used in cooking.

Sage, Clary (Salvia sclarea) Zones 4-9
Medicinal and aromatic herb
Clary sage has been used for centuries in eyewash preparations. When added to potpourri, it helps make other fragrances last longer (fixative properties).

Sage, Pineapple (Salvia elegans) Zones 9-10
Culinary, medicinal, landscape and aromatic herb
Pineapple sage has a mild but distinctive pineapple aroma. A favorite of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds, it's an attractive shrub that can grow to 5 feet. Used in tea blends, jams and as an ingredient in cheese spread. Pineapple sage will overwinter indoors.

St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) Zones 4-9
Medicinal herb
A natural antidepressant that's easy to grow, St. John's Wort can interfere with other medications, so check with your doctor before using it on yourself or others.

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) Zones 11-13
Culinary applications as a sugar substitute.
Not all stevia varieties are super sweet, so read the labels on seeds and plants.

Tarragon - French (Artemisia dracunculus) Zones 4 - 9 Tarragon likes rich soil that drains very well. It has an anise flavor and has been used to treat stress and indigestion.

English Thyme
Thyme (other - multiple) Zones 4-9
Culinary and medicinal herb
There are lots of thyme varieties to choose from, including: lemon thyme, nutmeg thyme, wooly thyme, caraway thyme and lime thyme.

Thyme, English (Thymus vulgaris) Zones 4-9
Culinary and medicinal herb
Also known as winter thyme.

Thyme, French (Thymus vulgaris) Zones 4-9
Culinary and medicinal herb
Somewhat less hardy than English thyme. Also known as summer thyme.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) Zones 4-9
Medicinal herb
Valerian root is an effective sedative, and even the leaves have sedative (or relaxing) properties when used in tea.

Verbena, Lemon (Aloysia triphylla) Zones 8-10.
Culinary, aromatic and medicinal herb
Verbena is one of the key fragrance ingredients in many cleaning products.

Popular Annuals

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Most often used as a culinary herb, although it has medicinal applications.

Borage (Borago officinalis)
Culinary and medicinal herb
Used fresh in salads and in beverages. Sugared borage flowers are used in baking and as a garnish.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) - Pot marigold.
Culinary, medicinal and cosmetic herb
Calendula is used in cooking, herbal medicine, cosmetic preparations, fabric dyes and crafts. It repels asparagus beetles and tomato hornwoms but tends to attract whiteflies, so companion plant it with garlic or French marigold.

Chamomile, German (Matricaria recutita)
Culinary and medicinal herb
There is also a perennial chamomile.

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
Culinary herb
A culinary herb used in many regional cuisines. Its seeds are known as another popular herb  -- coriander. The cultivar 'longstanding' can tolerate warmer weather without bolting.

Dill (Anethum graveolens)
Culinary herb
Dill is used often as a seasoning for seafood, eggs and mild or soft cheeses.

This list isn't exhaustive, but I think I've included lots of popular herbs here. 


Borage - BorageMF.jpg  Compliments of Sarablu7

Dill - DillMF.jpg  Compliments of  Karpati Gabor

Chamomile - ChamomileMF.jpg Compliments of Emenel

Chives - ChivesMF.jpg Compliments of Jdurham

Rosemary starts - author's garden

Aloe vera - author's garden