(NaturalNews) Type 2 diabetes is definitely among the more frustrating diseases, in that the conventional treatment model requires constant needle pricks while providing no actual cure. But a growing body of research suggests that regular supplementation with cinnamon could help in thwarting the onset of diabetes, and potentially even provide better relief than mainstream therapies for already-diagnosed diabetics.
Most Americans are familiar with cinnamon as a tasty spice used in oatmeal, pumpkin pie, egg nog and a variety of other often holiday dishes. But a recent meta-analysis published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that cinnamon is also capable of lowering fasting blood glucose levels. Paul Davis, a research nutritionist at the University of California, Davis, (UCD) recently explained his work to NPR.
"Yes, it does work," Davis stated to NPR about the blood sugar-regulating effects of common cinnamon. "According to our results, it's a modest effect of about 3 to 5 percent," he added, noting that cinnamon is on par with many older generation diabetes drugs in terms of efficacy.
But where cinnamon has a real leg up on all those drugs prescribed for diabetes is its safety profile. Apart from isolated claims that the coumarin content in cinnamon could potentially be harmful to the liver -- one would have to consume ghastly amounts of cinnamon for it to ever become harmful, despite all the hype -- there are no harmful side effects associated with consuming therapeutic doses of cinnamon.
"Cinnamon intake, either as whole cinnamon or as cinnamon extract, results in a statistically significant lowering in FBG [fasting blood glucose] and intake of cinnamon extract only also lowered FBG," wrote Davis and his colleagues about their findings. "Thus cinnamon extract and/or cinnamon improves FBG in people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes."
Ceylon cinnamon a better choice than the more common cassia cinnamon, say experts
Related research published in the journal The Annals of Family Medicine observed similar benefits with regard to lipid levels. Researchers from Western University of Health Sciences' College of Pharmacy found that cinnamon intake helps lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides, two substances commonly associated with heart disease.
"The consumption of cinnamon is associated with a statistically significant decrease in levels of fasting plasma glucose, total cholesterol, LDL-C, and triglyceride levels, and an increase in HDL-C levels," wrote the authors.
So will just any old cinnamon do? An increasing number of experts say no, as cassia cinnamon, the most common variety in North America and Europe, contains high levels of coumarin. Though the jury is still out on whether or not coumarin is actually harmful, sticking with Ceylon cinnamon, a more rare yet more potent cinnamon variety, can provide optimal benefits with minimal risk.
Often referred to as "true" cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon contains much higher levels of cinnamon oil compared to cassia varieties. At the same time, cassia cinnamon contains upwards of 200 times more coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon, containing up to 8 percent coumarin by volume. Comparatively, Ceylon cinnamon contains a mere 0.04 percent coumarin by volume.
As far as their general medicinal value, both cassia and Ceylon cinnamon have been found to aid in gut health and free radical scavenging. Science has shown that cinnamon may also be beneficial in preventing stomach flu, improving digestion, alleviating the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), guarding against candida infections, treating arthritis and even preventing and treating cancer.
"Several studies have indicated that cinnamon has the ability to fight off bacteria," writes Kevin Gianni of RenegadeHealth.com. "One animal study found that a particular component in cinnamon impaired the proliferation of cancer cells and slowed tumor growth," he adds.