Cinnamon (Cassia Bark) Overview:
Cassia bark or cinnamon is a common spice used for baking or other recipes. The inner bark of the cassia tree is rich in healthy cinnamon. Cassia bark is the most common source of cinnamon sold in the United States. It is also used commercially for its strong but sweet fragrance. Cassia bark is also used as an alternative medicine for the treatment of diabetes mellitus, coagulation disorders, and infection.
Advantages of cassia cinnamon bark for diabetes
- Reduces fasting glucose levels by 10%
- Prevents cataract formation and diabetic retinopathy
- Reduces free radicals in the circulation
- Supports the therapeutic action of insulin
- Relieves metabolic syndrome and reduces body weight
The science behind cassia bark
Diabetes Eye Disorders
Cataract formation and diabetic retinopathy are common complications that affect people diagnosed with diabetes. According to the US National Eye Institute, about 40-45% of diabetic patients have diabetes eye disorders. The reason behind these eye complications is because of the high sorbitol (sugar) regulation in the eyes. The good thing with cassia bark is that it can prevent diabetes eye disorders such as cataract and retinopathy.
Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences: Author Hoi-Seon Lee conducted a research to determine the therapeutic effect of cassia bark against cataract formation. The study showed that cinnamon derived from cassia bark inhibits lens aldose reductase. The enzyme aldose reductase is responsible for the accumulation of sorbitol in the lens of the eye. The study concluded that cassia bark has inhibiting activities that prevents cataract formation and diabetic retinopathy.1
Hyperglycemia and Obesity
Metabolic syndrome is commonly associated with diabetes because of the faulty lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. As a result of the increase blood sugar, fat synthesis also increases leading to obesity. Cassia bark promotes the use of glucose and fat stores as energy source, thereby indirectly causing reduction of body weight.
Scientific evidence: A study was conducted in Pakistan involving 60 participants with type 2 diabetes. The participants were divided into six wherein three groups where allowed to consume different amount of cinnamon daily. The study lasted for 40 days and results show that daily cinnamon intake reduced total cholesterol and fat of people with type 2 diabetes. Authors concluded that cinnamon should be included in the diet of people diagnosed with diabetes.2
A recent study also suggests that cassia cinnamon regulates blood sugar after meals resulting to decreased appetite. Results of the study revealed that cassia bark inhibits the activity of alpha-glucosidase. Because of this inhibition, there would be normal blood sugar levels post-prandial (2 hours after meals). It allows a prolonged carbohydrate digestion time in the gastrointestinal tract. 3
- Lee, HS. Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. Aug 2002;5(3): 226-230.
- Khan, A., et.al. Diabetes Care. 2003 Dec; 26(12):3215-8.
- Mohamed, SS., et.al. Nutrition and Metabolism. 2 DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-8-46