Cinnamomum is a genus of evergreen trees and shrubs belonging to the Laurel family, Lauraceae. The species of Cinnamomum have aromatic oils in their leaves and bark.
The genus contains over 300 species, distributed in tropical and subtropical regions of North America, Central America, South America, Asia, Oceania and Australasia.
Cassia (called ròu gùi; in Chinese) is used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs.
Notable Cinnamomum species include Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum or C. zeylanicum, also known as "true cinnamon" or Ceylon Cinnamon), Cassia (C. aromaticum or C. cassia), Camphor Laurel (C. camphora), Saigon Cinnamon (C. loureiroi, also known as Vietnamese cinnamon, Vietnamese cassia, or Saigon cassia), Malabathrum (C. tamala, also known as C. tejpata; tejpat or tej pat in Hindi; or, inaccurately, "Indian bay leaf").
Chemist Richard Anderson says that his research has shown that most, if not all, of cinnamon's antidiabetic effect is in its water-soluble fraction, not the oil (the ground cinnamon spice itself should be ingested for benefit, not the oil or a water extraction). In fact, some cinnamon oil-entrained compounds could prove toxic in high concentrations. Cassia's effects on enhancing insulin sensitivity appear to be mediated by polyphenols. Despite these findings, cassia should not be used in place of anti-diabetic drugs, unless blood glucose levels are closely monitored, and its use is combined with a strictly controlled diet and exercise program.
Cinnamaldehyde is what gives cinnamon its flavour and aroma. This pale yellow viscous liquid occurs naturally in the bark of cinnamon trees and other species of the genus Cinnamomum. The essential oil of cinnamon bark is about 90% cinnamaldehyde.
Cinnamaldehyde is as an antimicrobial. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (who were funded by the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company) have found that cinnamic aldehyde, when used in Big Red, prevented oral bacterial growth by more than 50 percent. It is especially effective against bacteria living at the back of the tongue, reducing anaerobic bacteria populations by about 43 percent.
Recent research documents anti-cancer activity of cinnamaldehyde/cinnamic aldehyde observed in cell culture and animal models of the disease. Proliferation, invasion, and tumor growth were inhibited in a murine A375 model of human melanoma.
Cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity, prevents mesenteric fat accumulation, and increases glycogen synthesis in an animal model of the metabolic syndrome:
Citation: Couturier, K., Batandier, C., Awada, M., Hininger, I., Osman, M., Poulet, L., Canini, F., Mormede, P., Anderson, R.A., Roussel, A. 2009. Cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity, prevents mesenteric fat accumulation, and increases glycogen synthesis in an animal model of the metabolic syndrome. Meeting Abstract.
Technical Abstract: In Western countries, over consumption of fat and/or refined carbohydrates are leading causes of insulin resistance, obesity, and the metabolic syndrome. Some nutritional factors, including many polyphenols, may be beneficial in counteracting insulin resistance associated with the metabolic syndrome. We have shown that cinnamon and polyphenols in the aqueous extracts of cinnamon counteract insulin resistance in in vitro, experimental animal, and human studies.
The objective of this study was to determine the effects of cinnamon on insulin resistance, glycogen synthesis, and body composition using an animal model of the metabolic syndrome, the high fat/high fructose-fed rat. Four groups of male Wistar rats (n=10) were fed for 12 weeks with (i) High Fat/High Fructose diet (HF/HF) known to induce insulin resistance, (ii) HF/HF diet containing 20g cinnamon/kg of diet, (iii) Control diet, and (iv) Control diet containing 20g of cinnamon/kg of diet. Insulin resistance was documented using the hyperglycemic clamp, with significant decreases in the glucose infusion rates in rats fed the HF/HF diet.
Addition of cinnamon to the diet led to a return of the glucose infusion rates to the values of the control rats. Consumption of the HF/HF diet also led to significant accumulation of mesenteric white fat that was not present in animals consuming the same diet with added cinnamon. In addition, cinnamon added to the diet led to significant increases in liver and muscle glycogen, especially in animals fed the HF/HF diet. These results demonstrate that cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity in rats with the metabolic syndrome and suggest that these effects are related to less accumulation of mesenteric fat and enhanced liver and muscle glycogen.
- La Médecine chinoise par les plantes. Le Corps a Vivre series; Wong, Ming.
- Polyphenols from Cinnamon increase insulin sensivity: functional and clinical aspects; 4th International Congress Dietary Antioxidants and trace elements.
- The cinnamon-derived Michael acceptor cinnamic aldehyde impairs melanoma cell proliferation, invasiveness, and tumor growth; Cabello CM, Bair WB, Lamore SD, Ley S, Bause AS, Azimian S, Wondrak GT.
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