Chemists Richard Anderson and Marilyn Polansky use
high-performance liquid chromatography to identify compounds from cinnamon that
improve the action of insulin. Click the image for additional
information about it.
By Rosalie Marion
November 21, 2003
Less than a half-teaspoon a day of
cinnamon reduced the blood sugar levels of 60 volunteers in Pakistan with Type
2 diabetes who participated in a study by the Agricultural Research Service and
cooperators in Pakistan. The findings were published online today in the
December issue of
The study was conducted by ARS chemist Richard A. Anderson at the ARS
Nutrient Requirements and
Functions Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and colleagues from
Peshawar, Pakistan. The study is preliminary and based on results with a small
group of volunteers. At this time, there are no data on safety or potential
toxic buildup from consistently ingesting table cinnamon.
In Type 2 diabetes, either the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or
the body cannot correctly use it. Insulin is a hormone that regulates sugar
metabolism. The result is that unhealthy levels of sugar circulate in the
blood, instead of providing energy to muscles.
In the study, the researchers divided the volunteers--who were not taking
insulin--randomly into six groups. The first group ate one gram of cinnamon per
day, while the second group ate three grams of cinnamon per day, and Group 3
ate six grams of cinnamon per day. Groups 4, 5 and 6 were given placebo
capsules corresponding in size and number to the capsules consumed by
volunteers in the three cinnamon-eating groups.
The researchers saw an improvement of roughly 20 percent in blood sugar,
cholesterol and triglyceride levels in volunteers eating as little as one gram
(less than 1/2 teaspoon) of cinnamon per day for 40 days. No advantage was seen
in taking more than that amount. Significantly, the volunteers' blood sugar
levels started climbing when the cinnamon was stopped.
These results with a small group of volunteers--encouraging though
preliminary-- indicate the need for further analysis of cinnamon and its
chemical components and for long-term feeding studies.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.