Compounds in Cinnamon Spice Up Insulin Sensitivity
By Rosalie Marion
April 19, 2004
Several compounds isolated from
cinnamon may one day become the key natural ingredients in a new generation of
products aimed at lowering blood sugar levels.
Agricultural Research Service scientists
extracted the complexes from cinnamon bark.
In test tube assays, the compounds, called polyphenolic polymers, increased
sugar metabolism in fat cells twentyfold. Millions of people have impaired
sugar and fat metabolism, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular
ARS chemist Richard A. Anderson and colleagues at the Beltsville (Md.) Human
Nutrition Research Center (BHNCR)
and two universities conducted the research. The findings were published this
year in the Journal of
Agricultural and Food Chemistry. ARS is the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief
scientific research agency.
The extracted compounds increase insulin sensitivity by activating key
enzymes that stimulate insulin receptors, while inhibiting enzymes that
deactivate the receptors. The compounds also have antioxidant effects, which
may provide synergistic benefits to people with various forms of diabetes.
Last year, the researchers reported that less than a half-teaspoon of
cinnamon daily for 40 days reduced by about 20 percent the blood sugar,
cholesterol and triglyceride levels of 60 volunteers in Pakistan with Type 2
diabetes. But table cinnamon made from cinnamon bark contains fat-soluble
compounds. Those compounds may accumulate in the body if ingested consistently
as more than a spice over long periods of time.
The newly defined, water-soluble compounds can be separated from nearly all
the fat-soluble, potentially toxic components found in cinnamon bark, according
to Anderson. He is with the BHNRC's Nutrient Requirements and Functions
Laboratory in Beltsville.
The USDA has filed a patent application on the invention.
more about this research in the April issue of Agricultural Research