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Cinnamon’s Effect on Glucose in People with Type II Diabetes

Jessica Swader

Paper 1

10-10-08

 

 

 

 

Introduction

Many people have heard of special remedies to common ailments and diseases.  Often it is hard to know if what our family, friends, and even news media report as amazing new treatments is really a beneficial as it is made out to be.  There have been such claims made about the use of cinnamon to lower the glucose in people with Type II diabetes.  Is this claim about cinnamon a natural fix to a growing problem, or should diabetics beware of the spicy cure?


World Wide Web Research

On the website Diabetes Health, John White seeks to inform diabetics on the usefulness of cinnamon as a treatment option for lowering their glucose levels (http://www.diabeteshealth.com/read/2008/04/02/5703.html).  Mr. White discusses the findings of a paper published by Kahn and colleagues that show the benefits of using cinnamon to regulate glucose.  In this study, there were sixty participants split into six groups.  Three groups took a placebo, while the other three had a supplement with varying grams of cinnamon.  The study showed that both glucose and cholesterol were lowered by taking the cinnamon supplement. Mr. White says, “If this were the end of the story, and if high-dose, long-term cinnamon was known to be safe, then perhaps cinnamon therapy would be widely recommended. Unfortunately, the picture is not quite so clear.”  He continues on to look at other studies and examines a German study in which there was not a drop for cholesterol but there was small 7 percent drop in glucose.  In yet another study dosing patients for six weeks with cinnamon supplement there was not a significant change in glucose.  According to Mr. White more research is needed to determine whether or not cinnamon is an effective supplement for diabetes.  Other than specific sites geared toward diabetics, many people also use common health websites to research health remedies.  On one such website “WebMD,” a person may find articles such as, “Common Spices may help diabetes” (http://diabetes.webmd.com/news/20080806/common-spices-may-help-diabetes), which contains a section on the use of cinnamon and lowering diabetes.  This article also reports that there are mixed findings in whether or not cinnamon is beneficial to diabetics for lowering their glucose.  If the research is taken separately, some articles find benefits and others don’t.  The article claims that according to Dr. William Baker, the evidence shows that there is not a significant benefit to taking cinnamon as a supplement to lower glucose when the five studies are examined together.  These websites “Diabetes health” and “WebMD” are focused on informing people of all the research available on specific topics.  In using a search engine, one may find other websites trying to forward their business.  One such website is American Diabetes wholesale, which sells various diabetic supplies. This website also has information about the benefits of cinnamon and lowering glucose, while advertising various products they have available with cinnamon (http://www.americandiabeteswholesale.com/-strse-template/Newsletter04242008/Page.bok).  The diabetes wholesale website cites the Kahn paper and a University of California study in mice, both of which show a benefit for using cinnamon to lower glucose.  The website briefly mentions that a study has found that cinnamon may not help lower glucose, however it does not mention the study and casts it off by saying several other studies show benefits.  This website may choose to ignore other findings because they are trying to sell a product.  Based on website research the effects of using cinnamon to lower glucose in diabetes patients is not clear.

Scientific Research

            There are various scientific papers available researching the claim that cinnamon is an effective supplement to lower glucose in Type II diabetics.  There were for main primary research reports found which study the effects of cinnamon on glucose in human patients.  The first of the papers to look at the affect of cinnamon on glucose levels is Khan, Safdar, Khan, Khattak, and Anderson (2003).  They questioned whether cinnamon improved blood glucose and cholesterol.  Khan et al. (2003) studied an equal number of men and women.  Half of the group took placebo tablets with wheat flour inside and the other half was split into three groups.  One group took 1g daily, the second group took 3g daily, and the third group took 6g daily over a 40 day period followed by 20 days of no medication.  Khan et al. (2003) found that after taking cinnamon, the subjects who took cinnamon had a decrease in fasting glucose between 18 and 29% and in total cholesterol between 12 and 26%.  In the Vanshoonbeek, Thomassen, Senden, Wodzig, and van Loon (2006) paper, they studied 25 post-menopausal women with Type 2 diabetes.  Vanshoonbeek et al. (2006) gave the women either a 1.5g cinnamon supplement or a placebo, and tested their glucose after two and six weeks.  They found that in post-menopausal women the cinnamon did not affect their glucose tolerance and warned against making medical claims before doing more tests.  Another study was conducted by Belvins et al. (2007) in the United states.  They argued that because the first experiment performed by Khan et al (2003) was performed in Pakistan, it was not reliable in determining the effects of cinnamon on glucose for people with diabetes in the United States.  In the Belvins et al. (2007) study, subjects were given 500mg tablets to take with breakfast and dinner for 3 months.  They found that there was no significant change between the placebo group and the cinnamon group.  They determined that based on their findings the affects of cinnamon on glucose could differ based on location. 

 

Conclusions

            Based on the three studies above, the results are mixed however research shows that cinnamon may not be effective in regulating glucose in people with Type 2 diabetes.  As always it is best for people to consult their doctors before trying any new supplement and especially before replacing their current glucose medicines for any cinnamon supplements.  Though tests show that cinnamon may not be the most effective tool available, a diabetic putting a little cinnamon on their morning coffee might not hurt.

 

 

 

 

 

Reference List

Belvins, S.M., Leyva, M.J., Brown, J., Wright, J., Scofield, R.H., Aston, C.E. (2007).

Effects of cinnamon on glucose and lipid levels in non-insulin-dependent Type

2 diabetes. Diabetes Care, 30(9), 2236-2237.

Khan, A., Safdar, M., Khan, M.M.A., Khattak, K.N., Anderson, R.A., (2003).

Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids in people with Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Care, 26(12), 3215-3218.

Vanshoonbeek, K., Thomassen, B.J.W., Senden, J.M., Wodzig, W.K.W.H., van Loon,

L.J.C., (2006). Cinnamon supplementation does not improve glycemic control

in postmenopausal Type 2 diabetes patients. The Journal of Nutrition, 136,

977-980.

 

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