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Cinnamon A Natural Version Of Insulin

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2004

Research on mice has shown the spice, when taken regularly with water, behaves remarkably like insulin, a hormone that regulates the level of glucose in the blood.

With preliminary results on the mice, and promising data from a separate human trial, scientists speculate they have found a natural version of insulin that could be used by diabetics who require injections but cannot afford them. Cinnamon may be more than a spice -- it may have a medical application in preventing and combating diabetes. Cinnamon may help by playing the role of an insulin substitute in type II diabetes, according to cellular and molecular studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Iowa State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"Cinnamon itself has insulin-like activity and also can potentiate the activity of insulin," said Don Graves of UCSB. "The latter could be quite important in treating those with type II diabetes. Cinnamon has a bio-active component that we believe has the potential to prevent or overcome diabetes."

The healthful effects of cinnamon on mice with diabetes are being studied in a joint project at the UCSB and the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute in Santa Barbara.

The researchers have been studying the effects of cinnamon on obese mice, which have been fed water laced with cinnamon at Sansum's lab.

The study began six months ago and final results are expected in about six months.

Using nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectroscopy, the researchers obtained results which allowed them to describe the chemical structure of a molecule with "insulin-like" activity in cinnamon. Graves and others reported earlier that this compound, a proanthocyanidin, can affect insulin signaling in fat cells.

Richard Anderson of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a former Graves student and the discoverer of the insulin-like activity, recently completed a human study with associates in Pakistan using cinnamon. Promising results were obtained by 30 test subjects with type II diabetes after only 40 days of taking cinnamon. They had a significant decrease in blood glucose, triglycerides, LDL, and cholesterol. The researchers hope that a human trial may begin in the US, possibly in Santa Barbara, using cinnamon and its water-soluble extract to treat type II diabetes.

Graves said that other major diseases could possibly be helped by cinnamon. For example one prospect is pancreatic cancer, a disease in which abnormal amounts of insulin are produced by the pancreas in response to the cancer tumor causing insulin resistance in the cells of the body. The resistance prevents glucose availability to the cells. Graves believes that cinnamon might help overcome this resistance. "It's speculative but exciting," he said.

Graves suggests cinnamon might be a promising alternative to insulin shots for people with Type II, or "adult onset" diabetes, in which cellular sensitivity to insulin is reduced. 

Source: Diabetes In Control.com.

 
 
 
 
 
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