Cinnamon Helps Type 2 Diabetes

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    Cinnamon Helps Type 2 Diabetes

    Also Helps Cholesterol -- But More Than A Sprinkle Required

    By Jeanie Lerche Davis WebMD Medical News

    Dec. 5, 2003 -- A spicy tip: Cinnamon can improve glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood. For
    people with type 2 diabetes, and those fighting high cholesterol, it's important information.

    Researchers have long speculated that foods, especially spices, could help treat diabetes. In lab
    studies, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, and turmeric have all shown promise in enhancing insulin's
    action, writes researcher Alam Khan, PhD, with the NWFP Agricultural University in Peshawar,
    Pakistan. His study appears in the December issue of Diabetes Care.

    Botanicals such as cinnamon can improve glucose metabolism and the overall condition of individuals
    with diabetes -- improving cholesterol metabolism, removing artery-damaging free radicals from the
    blood, and improving function of small blood vessels, he explains. Onions, garlic, Korean ginseng,
    and flaxseed have the same effect.

    In fact, studies with rabbits and rats show that fenugreek, curry, mustard seeds, and coriander have
    cholesterol-improving effects.

    But this is the first study to actually pin down the effects of cinnamon, writes Kahn. Studies have
    shown that cinnamon extracts can increase glucose metabolism, triggering insulin release -- which
    also affects cholesterol metabolism. Researchers speculated that cinnamon might improve both
    cholesterol and glucose. And it did!

    The 60 men and women in Khan's study had a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes for an average of 6 1-2
    years but were not yet taking insulin. The participants in his study had been on antidiabetic drugs
    that cause an increase in the release of insulin. Each took either wheat-flour placebo capsules or
    500 milligram cinnamon capsules.

    Group 1 took 1 gram (two capsules equaling 1/28 ounce total) for 20 days Group 2 got 3 grams (six
    capsules, equaling about 1/8 ounce total) Group 3 took 6 grams (12 capsules, equaling about 1/4
    ounce total)

    Blood samples were taken at each level of the study.

    Cinnamon made a difference! After 40 days, there were significant reductions in blood glucose levels
    in all three groups that took cinnamon, ranging from 18 to 29%. After stopping the cinnamon for 20
    days, only the group that consumed the lowest level of cinnamon continued with significantly
    improved glucose levels - group 1. The placebo groups didn't get any significant differences.

    Taking more cinnamon also seem to improve the blood levels of fats called triglycerides. All the
    patients had better triglyceride levels in their 40-day tests -- between 23 to 30% reductions. But
    again, those taking the most cinnamon had the best levels.

    In groups taking cinnamon pills blood cholesterol levels also went down, ranging from 13 to 26%; LDL
    cholesterol also known as "bad" cholesterol went down by 10 to 24% in only the 3- and 6-gram groups
    after 40 days. Effects on HDL ("good cholesterol") were minor.

    Cinnamon should be part of our daily diet -- whether we have type 2 diabetes or not, writes Kahn.
    However, for the best effects, just a sprinkle isn't enough.

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    SOURCE: Kahn, A. Diabetes Care. December 2003: vol 26: pp 3215-3218.

    © 2003 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

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