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Diabetes Obes Metab. 2012 Jun;14(6):493-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1326.2011.01538.x. Epub 2011 Dec 27.

Controversies surrounding the clinical potential of cinnamon for the management of diabetes.

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Epigenomic Medicine Laboratory, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, The Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Obesity levels have increased significantly in the past five decades and are predicted to continue rising, resulting in important health implications. In particular, this has translated to an increase in the occurrence of type II diabetes mellitus (T2D). To alleviate associated problems, certain nutraceuticals have been considered as potential adjuncts or alternatives to conventional prescription drugs. Cinnamon, a commonly consumed spice originating from South East Asia, is currently being investigated as a potential preventative supplement and treatment for insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and T2D. Extensive in vitro evidence has shown that cinnamon may improve insulin resistance by preventing and reversing impairments in insulin signalling in skeletal muscle. In adipose tissue, it has been shown that cinnamon increases the expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors including, PPARγ. This is comparable to the action of commonly used thiazolinediones, which are PPAR agonists. Studies have also shown that cinnamon has potent anti-inflammatory properties. However, numerous human clinical trials with cinnamon have been conducted with varying findings. While some studies have showed no beneficial effect, others have indicated improvements in cholesterol levels, systolic blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and postprandial glucose levels with cinnamon. However, the only measurement consistently improved by cinnamon consumption is fasting glucose levels. While it is still premature to suggest the use of cinnamon supplementation based on the evidence, further investigation into mechanisms of action is warranted. Apart from further characterization of genetic and epigenetic changes in model systems, systematic large-scale clinical trials are required. In this study, we discuss the mechanisms of action of cinnamon in the context of T2D and we highlight some of the associated controversies.

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