Cinnamon may help to alleviate diabetes says UCSB researcher

April 13, 2004

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) -- Cinnamon may be more than a spice -- it may have a medical application in preventing and combating diabetes. Cinnamon may help by playing the role of an insulin substitute in type II diabetes, according to cellular and molecular studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Iowa State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"Cinnamon itself has insulin-like activity and also can potentiate the activity of insulin," said Don Graves of UCSB. "The latter could be quite important in treating those with type II diabetes. Cinnamon has a bio-active component that we believe has the potential to prevent or overcome diabetes."

The healthful effects of cinnamon on mice with diabetes are being studied in a joint project at the UCSB and the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute in Santa Barbara.

The researchers have been studying the effects of cinnamon on obese mice, which have been fed water laced with cinnamon at Sansum's lab, according to Graves, who is running the project with Lois Jovanovic, Sansum's research director.

When the trials are completed, 60 diabetic mice will have been studied, sponsored by a grant to UCSB from Cottage Hospital, Santa Barbara. The study began six months ago and final results are expected in about six months.

"More than 170 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, and for many, drugs or other forms of treatment are unavailable," said Graves. "It may be possible that many of these people could benefit from readily available natural products such as cinnamon."

Graves, an adjunct professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, retired from Iowa State University in October 2000 and came to UCSB the same month. He was familiar with UCSB from his days as a visiting professor in the Department of Chemistry during the 1970s and decided to return. He now divides his time between UCSB and the Sansum Institute.

Using nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectroscopy, the researchers obtained results which allowed them to describe the chemical structure of a molecule with "insulin-like" activity in cinnamon. Graves and others reported earlier that this compound, a proanthocyanidin, can affect insulin signaling in fat cells.

Richard Anderson of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a former Graves student and the discoverer of the insulin-like activity, recently completed a human study with associates in Pakistan using cinnamon. Promising results were obtained by 30 test subjects with type II diabetes after only 40 days of taking cinnamon. They had a significant decrease in blood glucose, triglycerides, LDL, and cholesterol. The researchers hope that a human trial may begin in the US, possibly in Santa Barbara, using cinnamon and its water-soluble extract to treat type II diabetes.

Type II diabetes is a disease in which the body develops a resistance to insulin, thus preventing the cells from receiving the glucose that they need to function. The work at UCSB is focused on the way cinnamon operates at cellular and molecular levels, looking at how it works with the cell's insulin receptor and other proteins involved in reactions associated with the action of insulin.

Graves said that other major diseases could possibly be helped by cinnamon. For example one prospect is pancreatic cancer, a disease in which abnormal amounts of insulin are produced by the pancreas in response to the cancer tumor causing insulin resistance in the cells of the body. The resistance prevents glucose availability to the cells. Graves believes that cinnamon might help overcome this resistance. "It's speculative but exciting," he said.

Recent studies have shown that insulin resistance may also be involved in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, according to Graves. A study testing the effects of the "insulin-like" component of cinnamon on protein reactions associated with Alzheimer's disease is planned at UCSB's Neuroscience Research Institute (NRI). Graves is working in the NRI lab of John Lew, who studies Alzheimer's disease.

Graves calls himself a "scientific grandfather" to Lew, since Lew's major professor, Jery Wang, was a Ph.D. student of Graves at Iowa State University in 1961. Wang later became Lew's major professor at the University of Calgary.
-end-


University of California - Santa Barbara

Related Diabetes Articles from Brightsurf:

New diabetes medication reduced heart event risk in those with diabetes and kidney disease
Sotagliflozin - a type of medication known as an SGLT2 inhibitor primarily prescribed for Type 2 diabetes - reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events for patients with diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.

Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.

Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.

Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.

People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.

Read More: Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.