Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder affecting about 6% of the population worldwide with its complications, and is rapidly reaching epidemic scale. Diabetes mellitus has long been known to be a cause of dizziness, associated with sudden changes in blood sugar levels too high or too low. Metabolic syndrome is associated with insulin resistance, elevated glucose and lipids, inflammation, decreased antioxidant activity, increased weight gain, and increased glycation of proteins. Cinnamon has been shown to improve all of these variables in both animal and human studies. In addition, cinnamon has been shown to alleviate factors associated with Alzheimer’s, ischemic stroke and studies also show that components of cinnamon control new blood vessel formation associated with the proliferation of cancer cells. Human studies involving control subjects and subjects with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and polycystic ovary syndrome all show beneficial effects of whole cinnamon and/or liquid extracts of cinnamon on glucose, insulin, insulin sensitivity, lipids, antioxidant status, blood pressure and on lean body mass. However, not all studies have shown these positive effects of cinnamon, and type and amount of cinnamon, as well as the type of subjects and drugs subjects are taking, are likely to affect the response to cinnamon use. There are however no studies suggesting adverse affects of cinnamon use. In one study, the median lethal dose of cinnamon could not be obtained even at 20 times (0.4 g/kg body weight) its effective dose. With the high margin of safety of cinnamon, it appears useful as a potential therapeutic candidate for the management of diabetes. As such, the use of cinnamon may be important in the alleviation and prevention of the signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular and related diseases. I have been recommending its place in the diet for years to my patients, particularly those whom are diabetic or suffering with the aforementioned disorders.
Extensive research within the past two decades has revealed that obesity, a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, cancer, and other chronic diseases, is a pro-inflammatory disease. Several spices have been shown to exhibit activity against obesity through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Among them, curcumin, a yellow pigment derived from the spice turmeric (the main ingredient in curry powder), has been investigated most extensively as a treatment for obesity and obesity-related metabolic diseases. These curcumin-induced alterations reverse insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and other symptoms linked to obesity. Other structurally homologous nutraceuticals, derived from red chili, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and ginger, also exhibit effects against obesity and insulin resistance.