Published Mar 18, 2004
Cinnamon spice produces healthier blood
17:52 24 November 03
NewScientist.com news service
Just half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day significantly reduces blood sugar levels in diabetics, a new study has found. The effect, which can be produced even by soaking a cinnamon stick your tea, could also benefit millions of non-diabetics who have blood sugar problem but are unaware of it.
The discovery was initially made by accident, by Richard Anderson at the US Department of Agriculture's Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland.
"We were looking at the effects of common foods on blood sugar," he told New Scientist. One was the American favourite, apple pie, which is usually spiced with cinnamon. "We expected it to be bad. But it helped," he says.
Sugars and starches in food are broken down into glucose, which then circulates in the blood. The hormone insulin makes cells take in the glucose, to be used for energy or made into fat.
But people with Type 1 diabetes do not produce enough insulin. Those with Type 2 diabetes produce it, but have lost sensitivity to it. Even apparently healthy people, especially if they are overweight, sedentary or over 25, lose sensitivity to insulin. Having too much glucose in the blood can cause serious long-term damage to eyes, kidneys, nerves and other organs.
The active ingredient in cinnamon turned out to be a water-soluble polyphenol compound called MHCP. In test tube experiments, MHCP mimics insulin, activates its receptor, and works synergistically with insulin in cells.
To see if it would work in people, Alam Khan, who was a postdoctoral fellow in Anderson's lab, organised a study in Pakistan. Volunteers with Type 2 diabetes were given one, three or six grams of cinnamon powder a day, in capsules after meals.
All responded within weeks, with blood sugar levels that were on average 20 per cent lower than a control group. Some even achieved normal blood sugar levels. Tellingly, blood sugar started creeping up again after the diabetics stopped taking cinnamon.
The cinnamon has additional benefits. In the volunteers, it lowered blood levels of fats and "bad" cholesterol, which are also partly controlled by insulin. And in test tube experiments it neutralised free radicals, damaging chemicals which are elevated in diabetics.
Buns and pies
"I don't recommend eating more cinnamon buns, or even more apple pie - there's too much fat and sugar," says Anderson. "The key is to add cinnamon to what you would eat normally."
The active ingredient is not in cinnamon oils. But powdered spice can be added to toast, cereal, juice or coffee.
Anderson's team were awarded patents related to MHCP in 2002. But the chemical is easily obtained. He notes that one of his colleagues tried soaking a cinnamon stick in tea. "He isn't diabetic - but it lowered his blood sugar," Anderson says.
The group now plans to test even lower doses of cinnamon in the US, and also look at long-term blood sugar management with the spice.
Journal reference: Diabetes Care (vol 26, p 3125)
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© Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.
Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes
Alam Khan, MS, PHD1,2,3, Mahpara Safdar, MS1,2, Mohammad Muzaffar Ali Khan, MS, PHD1,2, Khan Nawaz Khattak, MS1,2 and Richard A. Anderson, PHD3
1 Department of Human Nutrition, NWFP Agricultural University, Peshawar, Pakistan
2 Post Graduate Medical Institute, Hayatabad Medical Complex, Peshawar, Pakistan
3 Nutrients Requirements and Functions Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Richard A. Anderson, Nutrient Requirements and Functions Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Bldg. 307, Rm. 224, Beltsville, MD 20705. E-mail: [email protected]
OBJECTIVE--The objective of this study was to determine whether cinnamon improves blood glucose, triglyceride, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS--A total of 60 people with type 2 diabetes, 30 men and 30 women aged 52.2 ± 6.32 years, were divided randomly into six groups. Groups 1, 2, and 3 consumed 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon daily, respectively, and groups 4, 5, and 6 were given placebo capsules corresponding to the number of capsules consumed for the three levels of cinnamon. The cinnamon was consumed for 40 days followed by a 20-day washout period.
RESULTS--After 40 days, all three levels of cinnamon reduced the mean fasting serum glucose (18-29%), triglyceride (23-30%), LDL cholesterol (7-27%), and total cholesterol (12-26%) levels; no significant changes were noted in the placebo groups. Changes in HDL cholesterol were not significant.
CONCLUSIONS--The results of this study demonstrate that intake of 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon per day reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes and suggest that the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Since learning about how cinnamon benefits type 2 diabetics, I've had my mom taking 1/4 tsp of cinnamon daily. Her A1Cs are much better. Her bs has been running much lower. In fact, her doc has cut her oral hypoglycemic med dosages in half. :)
Although I am not diabetic, I now take 1/4 tsp of cinnamon every day. So does dh.
I'm willing to try this, my last A1c was 6.7, I hope to get it back closer to 6
Whodathunkit?! Thanks for the info!
gwenith, BSN, RN
Unfortunately cinnamon is on my "do not eat" list - it makes my tongue feel red and raw - some sort of allergic reaction??? But I end up talking like thith cuth I can't make eth thoundth.
I just read a blurb on this topic in passing. Thank you hellllonurse for the info that i was going to look up. I just hope that people do not mistake it for a replacement to insulin.....pt teaching, pt teachinng, pt teaching! (I have run into a few that I am sure would try the switch to save a buck-so to speak) Now, if they could just figure out how to make cinnamon buns and apple pie fat/sugar free and still taste like the real thing.........*sigh*
My dad is a Type I Diabetic and read about this study several months ago. Since then he has increased his intake of cinnamon by adding powdered cinnamon to coffee, tea, etc. and he said that he has noticed a difference although I don't know specifically by how much.
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