Natural Medicine: Cinnamon Doesn't Help Diabetes and Heart Disease

Natural Medicine: Cinnamon Doesn't Help Diabetes and Heart Disease

CINNAMON BARK; also called Ceylon Cinnamon; Chinese Cassia; Cortex Cinnamoni.

Biological Source: Cinnamon is the dried bark of Cinnamomum loureirii Nees or Cinnamomum zeylanicum Nees.

Family: Lauraceae.

Geographical Source:

Cinnamon is a native of China, Japan, and Formosa and found in Sri Lanka, Java, Vietnam, Sumatra, West Indies, Jamaica, Laos, Indonesia, Brazil, and Seychelles. In India the plant occurs widely in the southern coastal regions of western India up to an altitude of 2,000 meters.

The bark as it dries contracts and forms a quill. During the drying process, which takes about 3 days, the quills are roiled by hand and pressed to prevent swelling and splitting. The bark obtained from the central branches is superior to that from the outer shoots. The quills are graded on the basis of appearance and aroma.

Chemical Constituents:

Cinnamon contains volatile oil (1-6%), phiobatannin, mucilage calcium oxalate, sugar and starch. The principal constituent of the volatile oil is cinnamic aldehyde. The other components identified are eugenol (4%), pinene. phellandrene, caryophyllene. cinnamyl acetate and small quantities of ketones and alcohols (benzaidehyde. methyl amyl ketone, cumic aidehvde) and esters of isobutvric acid.

Uses and clinical evidence according to its research studies:

Cinnamon is pungent, aromatic, astringent, stimulant and carminative. It is useful for checking nausea and vomiting. It is employed as flavoring agent and it has antiseptic and anti diarrhea properties and is a powerful germicide. It is employed as a counter-irritant in the treatment of muscular strains, rheumatism, inflammations and antifungal properties.

It has natural killing power. Microbiologists at Kansas State University found that adding small amounts of the spice to samples of apple juice contaminated with the E. coli bug killed off almost all the bacteria. Just one teaspoon of cinnamon killed 99.5% of the bacteria after three days at room temperature. It has even effect on Helicobacter pylori; responsible for stomach ulcer.

So many studies found that Cinnamon and cloves shown in studies to improve insulin function, lower risk factors for diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Evidence for the beneficial effects (and biochemical actions) of cinnamon as an anti-inflammatory agent and support earlier findings of its power as an anti-oxidant agent and an agent able to lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose, and improve how well insulin functions.

A water-soluble, cinnamon extract has been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to a study from the University of Hannover in Hannover, Germany published in 30 Jun 2006 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Investigation. This was the first study evaluating the effect of a water-soluble cinnamon extract on glycemic control and the lipid profile of Western patients with type 2 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. They suggested 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 study.

Also, people who have been prescribed medication to manage their blood sugar should not reduce or discontinue their dose and take cinnamon instead, especially without speaking with a doctor. Improperly treated diabetes can lead to serious complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and nerve damage. Scientists at the US Agricultural Research Service's nutrition labs in Beltsville, Maryland stated after their study, "We recommend people take a quarter to a full teaspoon a day of cinnamon, perhaps in orange juice, coffee, or on oatmeal."

Although, so many experts suggested taking Cinnamon for diabetic cholesterol control and as prevention of heart attack; spokesman for the charity Diabetes UK disagreed, saying it was too early to recommend adding cinnamon to the diet. Any work in this area is welcome - we look forward to the results of further research".

But most recent study published dated on January 8, 2008 stated that cinnamon does not appear to have any impact on blood sugar or cholesterol levels in people with diabetes, Connecticut-based researchers report in the journal Diabetes Care.

"The preponderance of evidence currently available does not suggest that cinnamon has the ability to decrease a person's risk of heart disease by helping them control their diabetes or lower their cholesterol," Dr. Craig I. Coleman, of Hartford Hospital, who was the principal investigator, told Reuters Health.

Several studies have looked at the impact of cinnamon on blood sugar and lipids (fats) in patients with diabetes but had only modest sample sizes and yielded mixed results, Coleman and colleagues note in their report.

This led them to perform a large review, or "meta-analysis," of five studies in which a total of 282 type 1 or type 2 diabetic patients were randomly assigned to receive cinnamon or a placebo and were followed for up to 16 weeks. All five studies used cinnamon cassia, "the same cinnamon most people have in their spice racks at home," Coleman noted. Doses ranged from 1 to 6 grams daily.

As mentioned, the use of cinnamon did not significantly alter hemoglobin A1C -- a marker of blood sugar control. It also had no effect on fasting blood sugar levels or lipid parameters. Analyses by subgroup and sensitivity did not appreciably alter these results.

Coleman told Reuters Health that the inspiration for conducting this specific analysis came from one of his research fellows, Dr. William Baker. "He works in a chain pharmacy as a pharmacist, now and then, and he was asked by a patient whether cinnamon was useful in treating diabetes."

"As pharmacists, we want to be able to provide patients ... with the best information about these over-the-counter treatments, which are often readily available but under researched," Coleman said. Based on the current study, "we would not recommend its use to patients," he said.

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