Reported recently are two studies presented at Experimental Biology 2006: They provide new evidence for the beneficial effects (and biochemical actions) of cinnamon as an anti-inflammatory agent and support earlier findings of its power as an anti-oxidant agent and an agent able to lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose, and improve how well insulin functions.
In a related study, extracts of cloves also were found to improve the function of insulin and to lower glucose, total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes. The studies were presented at Experimental Biology 2006 and provide the first evidence of these beneficial effects in humans taking the equivalent of one to two cloves per day.
Earlier studies by Dr. Richard A. Anderson, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, United States Department of Agriculture, had shown that the equivalent of a quarter to half a teaspoon of cinnamon given to humans twice a day decreased risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, including glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides, by 10 to 30 percent. These new studies showing cinnamon’s ability to block inflammation extend our understanding of the potential for the spice, says Dr. Anderson.
As an anti-inflammatory agent, cinnamon may be useful in preventing or mitigating arthritis as well as cardiovascular disease. And as scientists increasingly understand the relationship between inflammation and insulin function in Alzheimer’s (causing some to refer to the neurodegenerative disease as “type 3 diabetes”), cinnamon’s ability to block inflammation and enhance insulin function may make it useful in combating that disease as well.
Dr. Heping Cao of the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center and colleagues, including Dr. Anderson, investigated the biochemical basis for the insulin-like effects of cinnamon. Results showed that cinnamon, like insulin, increases the amount of three critically important proteins involved in the body’s insulin signaling, glucose transport, and inflammatory response. Dr. Cao says the study provides new biochemical evidence for the beneficial effects of cinnamon in potentiating insulin action and suggests anti-inflammatory properties for the antioxidants in cinnamon.