Q. I ordered organic Ceylon cinnamon online. As I understand it, that type doesn’t contain nearly as much coumarin as the cassia type. Can you address the different types of cinnamon, and which is best?

A. Research shows that cinnamon can help control blood sugar for people with Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes (Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, October 2019).

There are, however, several species of cinnamon. The most common on the spice rack is Cinnamomum cassia, also known as cassia or Chinese cinnamon. This species may have significant levels of coumarin in the bark. Although it is a natural compound, at high doses it can be toxic to the liver (Food Chemistry, July 15, 2008). The related species, C. loureiroi and C. burmannii, also contain coumarin. Ceylon cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum or C. zeylanicum, has very little if any coumarin. Ceylon cinnamon is most effective overall in controlling blood sugar (Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, December 2019).

ConsumerLab.com recently tested cinnamon products. The Whole Foods house brand 365 Ground Cinnamon, McCormick Ground Cinnamon and FGO Organic Ceylon Cinnamon Powder all did well. The top-performing supplement was Swanson Cinnulin PF Cinnamon Extract.

To learn more about the health benefits of spices like cinnamon, you may wish to consult our book “Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life.” It is available in the store at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q. You asked for anecdotal experiences using surprise as a remedy for hiccups. I taught high school and middle school for over 32 years. During this time, students would often get hiccups in class. I had a sure cure.

I would look at the student and say, “You are disrupting the class! I am going to write a detention for you.” Some of the class would be horrified and come to the offender’s defense. Others would just smile because they knew me.

The affected student would look at me in terror and, like magic, the hiccups stopped.

I used this technique for years with success. In fact, some of my students still remember me doing this. So, yes, surprise works.

A. We still do not know why this tactic can stop hiccups. Our best guess is that a jolt of adrenaline might interrupt the nerve misfiring that leads to the hiccup reflex.

Q. When I read in your newspaper column that soap could help restless legs syndrome, I really didn’t believe it. But I was so desperate I was willing to try anything.

I sliced Ivory soap bars thin with a cheese slicing wire. Then I put the little pieces at the bottom of a full-body pillow, with the soap bars near my feet. Scraps and any soap chips created from slicing the soap go in my socks while I wear them around house.

After three weeks, this crazy gimmick has worked. It even eliminated my leg cramps. Is it a placebo? I don’t know, but I like the results.

Do you know why it works? I’m sure there must be some ingredient in soap that is responsible.

Magnesium used to be my solution for RLS, but it really didn’t work that well. Ivory soap, my new RLS savior, also has a mild clean smell.

A. People describe RLS as a creepy-crawly sensation that compels them to move their legs. It often interferes with sleep. Scientists still do not know exactly what causes this distressing condition.

A hypothesis as to how soap might work involves the fragrance limonene. There is some research to suggest that this volatile compound activates TRP channels in the skin. This may calm hyperexcitable nerves (European Journal of Applied Physiology, August 2017).

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them via their website:

www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

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