The Science of Cinnamon and Diabetes

Cinnamaldehyde - one of cinnamon's active ingredients

    The science of cinnamon for diabetes

    The science of cinnamon for diabetes

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    Cinnamaldehyde has safe hypoglycaemic action on gestational diabetes by potentiating insulin secretion… Sooo, what does that actually mean?

    Cinnamaldehyde – an organic compound that makes up 65-75% of cinnamon’s essential oil (its flavour and aroma).

    You may have heard that cinnamon is good for diabetes here and there. Articles crop up (Daily Mail, Telegraph) and health food shops stock cinnamon tablets for the spice’s dedicated followers. It’s incredible to discover the underground love for the spice as a herbal medicine once you know a little more about it.

    Of course at CEIBA we are big advocates of cinnamon – we love the stuff! And we are equally in awe of cinnamon’s use as an herbal medicine. And because we are starting to hear here, there and everywhere that it’s a great ingredient, we are writing these articles to get deeper into the science behind it. One of the main topics is cinnamon for diabetes.

    Coming back to our opening statement, cinnamaldehyde has safe hypoglycaemic action on gestational diabetes, how then does this help us understand why it is good to use cinnamon for diabetes?

    Our statement comes from a 2017 study by scientists from the Beni-Suef University and the Theodor Bilharz Research Institute, both in Egypt. They studied the actions of cinnamaldehyde against a diet high in sugar and fat and with gestational diabetes. The study was undergone with mice.

    They found that cinnamaldehyde controlled hyperphagia (the intense desire to eat) and aided glucose intolerance. They found that it also reduced levels of fructosamine, total cholesterols, triglycerides, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), malondialdehyde (MDA) and nitric oxide (NO).

    To break those scientific terms down…

    • Fructosamine – a compound of fructose sugar with protein
    • Triglycerides – the main constituents of body fat
    • Tumor necrosis factor-alpha – a protein that promotes inflammation
    • Malondialdehyde – organic compound that marks oxidative stress
    • Nitric oxide – free radical associated with cell damage

    Cinnamaldehyde also significantly increased levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), adiponectin and liver glycogen.

    Breaking that down…

    • High-Density Lipprotein (HDL) – the ‘good’ type of cholesterol that reduces and recycles Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) aka bad ‘cholersterol’.
    • Adiponectin – A protein involved in regulating glucose levels and fatty acid breakdown
    • Liver Glycogen – a form of energy storage for glucose

    To now sum up the study after breaking down the complicated terms behind it, the study showed that cinnamaldehyde is helping to reduce inflammation by reducing levels of TNF-α, control the amount of sugars by reducing fructose compounds and boosting levels of proteins that can regulate sugar.

    Glycogen levels are improved, so any stored sugars are put to burnable use, and boosting the good kind of cholesterol (HDL) helps remove the bad type of cholesterol and transport it to the liver for processing. In all, less bad fat and less sugar in the body.

    Finally, and as a bonus, the occurrences create an environment for less oxidation to take place, with lower levels of nitric acid and malondialdehyde. Oxidation damages cell membranes and other structures in the body so the less that it occurs, the better.

    We hope you have a better idea now behind the science of cinnamon for diabetes. We have written another article on why cinnamon is good for diabetes so you may want to check that out. Also you can read the 2017 study on cinnamon and cinnamaldehyde’s effect on diabetes here.