The aromatic bark can lower blood sugar, triglycerides and cholesterol levels, as well as improve insulin functioning, particularly in Type 2 diabetics, researchers have found. Richard Anderson, lead scientist at the Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Md. (USA), calls its medicinal properties the most significant nutritional discovery in 25 years.
'I don't know of anything else,' he said, other than drugs, 'that can change glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol levels nearly so much.'
The most recent study, which appears in the December issue of the journal Diabetes Care, showed that, after 40 days, 30 diabetics who had taken 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon extract daily reduced their risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Specifically, their mean fasting glucose fell 18 percent to 29 percent, their triglycerides 25 percent to 30 percent, their LDL ('bad') cholesterol 7 percent to 27 percent and their total cholesterol 12 percent to 26 percent.
Only a little cinnamon was necessary, said Anderson, who helped conduct the study. A 30-person placebo group showed no change.
Other experts say they're reserving judgment until more extensive studies on humans confirm the results.
If Anderson's findings are confirmed by wider studies, the spice could help fight the soaring U.S. rate of Type 2 diabetes. Also known as adult-onset diabetes, it afflicts an estimated 16 million people in the United States.