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The online newsletter DIABETES IN CONTROL recently reported researchers from University of California at Santa Barbara are investigating cinnamon's potential utility in diabetes control. It seems the substance has a certain chemical similarity to insulin, and in mouse-based tests, some benefit was observed.

These tests are not complete; data are preliminary, and human clinicals have not been undertaken. DIABETES IN CONTROL published an un-attributed, somewhat irresponsible speculation that cinnamon is "a natural version of insulin that could be used by diabetics who require injections but cannot afford them." Such statements beg for abuse by the snake-oil crowd.

What might cinnamon be good for? UCSB researcher Professor Don Graves reports it has "insulin-like activity,” and might also "potentiate the activity of insulin." He states this second quality "could be quite important in treating those with type 2 diabetes."

Bottom line: In early studies, in mice in the U.S. and on a small number of human subjects in Pakistan, "promising results were observed." The article notes the 30 Pakistani subjects had type 2 diabetes," NOT the type 1 which is normally controlled with insulin -- so describing cinnamon as an "insulin substitute" is premature, to say the least. Cinnamon, or perhaps one or more of its chemical components, might one day prove useful against type 2 diabetes, and against its chief component, insulin resistance. For now, we don't know enough, tests are not complete, so keep taking your prescribed medications -- it's too early for a mad dash to the spice shop.