Daily Spoonful Of Cinnamon
May Help Diabetics
By Suzanne Rostler
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -- People with type 2 diabetes may improve their ability to regulate their blood sugar by adding a little spice to their life, report researchers.
In preliminary findings, cinnamon helped fat cells recognize and respond to insulin, the hormone that removes excess glucose (sugar) from the blood and deposits it into cells. In a test tube and in animal studies, the spice appeared to increase glucose metabolism by about 20 times, said Dr. Richard Anderson, lead scientist at the Beltsville, Maryland Human Nutrition Center, a branch of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). (interview)
``This is a very good means of improving blood sugar with minimal means and minimal cost,'' he told Reuters Health. ``This could help millions and millions of people.'' (interview)
The majority of the more than 16 million Americans who suffer from diabetes have type 2 diabetes, a disease in which the cells fail to recognize insulin. As a result, the amount of sugar in the blood remains high, leading to fatigue and blurred vision. Over the long term, excess blood glucose can increase the risk of heart attack, kidney failure and blindness.
Diabetes is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Diabetes Association.
Anderson explained that his mostly unpublished research shows that a compound in cinnamon -- methylhydroxy chalcone polymer (MHCP) -- makes fat cells more responsive to insulin by activating the enzyme that causes insulin to bind to cells and inhibiting the enzyme that blocks this process.
``What you have is a highly effective system,'' Anderson said. (interview)
While it is too soon to recommend the spice as a regular treatment for type 2 diabetes, Anderson said patients can try adding 1/4-1 teaspoon of cinnamon to their food.
``The worst that will happen is it won't do any good and the best is that it will help dramatically,'' he said. (interview)
Clinical trials using a cinnamon extract on humans are due to begin in 6 months, Anderson said. (interview)
Type 2 diabetes is most often diagnosed in adults over 45 who are overweight. An increasing number of children and teenagers around the world are developing the disease to increasing rates of obesity and sedentary lifestyles. (
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