Determining Therapeutic Effects of Cinnamon Proves Elusive

Released: 22-Aug-2007 9:00 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)
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Citations 22nd Annual Meeting of American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)

Newswise — For most of us, cinnamon is associated with baked goods or hot apple cider. Few realize this spice, from a small evergreen tree native to Sri Lanka and Southern India, dates back to biblical times. Fewer still are aware that both common and cassia cinnamon have been observed to have pharmacological and clinical effects.

Based on pre-clinical and clinical data, common and cassia cinnamon are well known for their medicinal properties in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. In animal studies, both common and cassia cinnamon have been shown to reduce blood glucose following a glucose tolerance test, with cassia was found to be superior to common cinnamon. It has also been proposed that the antioxidant properties of common and cassia cinnamon may influence diabetic complications. In humans, three randomized controlled trials have been conducted on cassia and its effects on fasting glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin (HA1c) and lipid profile markers.

To further understand the activity of the spice, a team of naturopathic physicians and scientists decided to systematically review the scientific literature for evidence of safety, efficacy and pharmacological activity of common and cassia cinnamon. The researcher team is comprised of Jean-Jacques Dugoua ND, Dugald Seely, BSc, ND, Dan Perri, MD, Kieran Cooley, ND, Taryn Forelli, ND, Edward Mills, Ph.D., and Gideon Koren, MD, whose study is entitled "From Type 2 Diabetes to Antioxidant Activity, The Safety And Efficacy Of Common (Cinnamomum Verum, C. Zeylanicum) And Cassia (Cinnamomum Aromaticum) Cinnamon Bark " A Systematic Review." Dr. Dugoua will discuss his team's findings at the 22nd annual meting of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP; www.Naturopathic.org). The conference will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center, Palm Springs, CA, August 22-25, 2007.

Methodology
The researcher team identified all existing relevant pre-clinical and clinical medical literature that provided information regarding the safety, efficacy and pharmacology of common and cassia cinnamon. The databases they reviewed included MedLine, Old Medline, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Data, Allied and Complementary Medicine (AMED), EMBASE, and AltHealthWatch. This was in addition to individual searchers of the relevant review papers and reference lists of original research publications that were conducted by the research team. To evaluate toxicology, adverse effects and pharmacology, animal and in vitro studies were also included in the search.

Results
The highlights of the findings included the following:

* eight studies involving humans involving the therapeutic efficacy of common and cassia cinnamon were found. One pharmacological study on antioxidant activity and seven clinical studies on various medical conditions were reported in the scientific literature, including three studies involving type 2 diabetes, and one each addressing Helicobacter pylori infection, activation of the olfactory cortex of the brain, oral candidiasis (fungal infection) in HIV, and chronic salmonellosis (bacterial infection found in individuals with compromised immune systems).

* common and cassia cinnamon had been investigated in animal studies for their anti-diabetic properties. Cassia cinnamon, however, had been the subject of three clinical trials while common cinnamon remained unstudied in humans.

* based on strong scientific evidence from two of three randomized clinical trials reviewed, cassia cinnamon demonstrated a therapeutic effect in reducing fasting blood glucose by 10.3 percent; the third clinical trial did not observe this effect. Cassia cinnamon, however, did not have an effect at lowering glycosylated hemoglobin.

* one randomized clinical trial reported that cassia cinnamon lowered total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides; the other two trials, however, did not observe this effect. There was scientific evidence that at least one species of cinnamon was not effective at eradicating H. pylori infection. Common cinnamon showed weak to very weak evidence of efficacy in treating oral candidiasis in HIV patients and chronic salmonellosis.

Conclusions
According to Dr. Dugoua, the lead researcher, "The studies we reviewed offered mixed results with therapeutic efficacy being demonstrated in some research efforts and not in others. This literature review has given us a clear road map for further research regarding the healing effects of cinnamon, a spice that continues to have a reputation for providing flavor and medicinal treatments."

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Naturopathic physicians are trained in the art and science of natural healthcare at accredited medical colleges. Integrative partnerships between conventional medical doctors and licensed naturopaths are becoming more available. This cooperation makes more effective therapies available to consumers. It increases patient satisfaction in their relationships with their care providers. More people are recovering their health by adding naturopathic medicine to their health care options.


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