One of the biggest causes of infertility is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which affects as many as 10 percent of women. Women with PCOS often have irregular and skipped periods. There is good evidence, though, that changes in diet can normalize periods and help women get pregnant. Diet can also improve other symptoms of PCOS like acne and excess facial hair.
And it looks like something as simple as spicing up menus with cinnamon could make a difference. Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center gave cinnamon supplements to 11 women and placebo pills to five other women for six months. All of the women were experiencing skipped periods and infertility.
Over the six months, the women taking cinnamon supplements saw distinct changes in their periods. They averaged four periods in that time compared to just 2 periods among the women taking the placebo pill. Not only that, but two women in the cinnamon group got pregnant.
If you’ve read Vegan for Her, you may remember that I talked about cinnamon in the chapter on diabetes. One thousand years ago, cinnamon was a regular part of Chinese medicine for treating “thirsty disease.” No doubt, this was type-2 diabetes which is sometimes characterized by excessive thirst. Modern research in China confirms the beneficial effects of cinnamon supplements on blood glucose levels. The theory is that cinnamon may work by slowing the release of glucose from food into the bloodstream.
I also talked about PCOS in Vegan for Her, and the fact that it is thought to be a disease of insulin resistance and poor blood glucose control. It’s not too hard to connect the dots. If cinnamon helps to normalize blood glucose levels in people with diabetes, then it makes sense that it should help to reverse symptoms of PCOS.
In the recent study on PCOS the dose of cinnamon was 1500 milligrams per day, which is a little bit more than ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Research on diabetes has used as much as 2000 milligrams of cinnamon per day or around ¾ of a teaspoon.
Nobody is calling cinnamon a cure-all for either PCOS or diabetes; both require a comprehensive lifestyle treatment. But adding cinnamon to a healthy diet might give you an edge in keeping blood glucose levels healthy and keeping your menstrual cycle regular.
There is also evidence that getting protein and iron from plant foods improves fertility, so adding cinnamon to a healthy vegan diet clearly is the best choice. And it’s easy enough to do. Add cinnamon to oatmeal or fruit, or try it in sautéed greens or mixed into rice or quinoa. JL’s recipe for Ginger-Cinnamon White Bean Gravy is the best of all world’s since it pairs cinnamon with beans, which are an ideal food for normalizing blood glucose levels. And it’s perfect for Thanksgiving!
Questions about cinnamon and fertility? Ask in the forum!