Why You Should Know About it:
Cinnamon can help to reverse Insulin Resistance (IR), also known as Equine Metabolic Syndrome.
Insulin is a hormone that is released by the pancreas in response to consumption of carbohydrates. Insulin attaches to cell receptors to signal to allow sugar into the cell and utilize it for energy. A high carb diet, nutrient deficiencies, high stress, and inadequate exercise can eventually lead to IR. In IR, many of those insulin cell receptors are desensitized and fail to respond to insulin. This results in a cascade of negative effects. In horses, it can lead to obesity, abnormal fat deposits (even in otherwise thin horses), muscle wasting, low energy, laminitis, colic, Cushing’s syndrome, and eventually diabetes and other complications.
Many therapeutics, including some herbal medicines, lower blood sugar levels by increasing insulin levels, and this can actually make things worse. High insulin levels causes cells to become even more resistant. To truly reverse IR, one must look to the root of the condition – the sensitivity of the cell. This is where herbs like Cinnamon can help.
Cinnamon can actually help cells regain their sensitivity to insulin. When combined with other therapeutics, Cinnamon can help to reverse Insulin Resistance entirely. Other therapuetics for horses with IR include supplementation of Chromium, Magnesium, and trace minerals, B-Vitamins, Omega-3s (flax and chia seed), and vitamin D or adequate sun exposure, along with restriction of nonstructural carbohydrates (NSCs) in the diet and regular exercise. Other herbs that help increase insulin receptivity may incorporated as well, such as Basil (Ocicum spp.), Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), and Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica).
How to Use It:
Many horses with insulin resistance are not receiving any grain. If this is the case, Cinammon (as well as other herbs and supplements) may be fed with low NSC roughage pellets. For picky eaters, Alfalfa may be a tasty option. Luckily, most horses find Cinnamon pretty appetizing.
Consider pairing Cinnamon with a moistening, cooling herb to balance it effects, such as Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis).
Part(s) Used: Bark
Form(s) Used: Dried, powdered
Dosages: 15 g or 1 tbsp (for an average 1,100 lb horse)
Herbal Actions: Aromatic, GI tonic, antibacterial, antifungal, astringent, demulcent, antioxidant, circulatory stimulant, carminative, warming tonic, hypoglycemic, heating, drying
Cautions, contraindications & adverse effects: Not to be confused with Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia, aromaticum, or burmannii).