"Cinnamon itself has insulin-like activity and also can potentiate the activity of insulin," said Don Graves of UCSB. "The latter could be quite important in treating those with type II diabetes. Cinnamon has a bio-active component that we believe has the potential to prevent or overcome diabetes."
The healthful effects of cinnamon on mice with diabetes are being studied in a joint project at the UCSB and the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute in Santa Barbara.
The researchers have been studying the effects of cinnamon on obese mice, which have been fed water laced with cinnamon at Sansum's lab, according to Graves, who is running the project with Lois Jovanovic, Sansum's research director.
When the trials are completed, 60 diabetic mice will have been studied, sponsored by a grant to UCSB from Cottage Hospital, Santa Barbara. The study began six months ago and final results are expected in about six months.
"More than 170 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, and for many, drugs or other forms of treatment are unavailable," said Graves. "It may be possible that many of these people could benefit from readily available natural products such as cinnamon."
Graves, an adjunct professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, retired from Iowa State University in October 2000 and came to UCSB the same month. He was familiar with UCSB from his days as a visiting professor in the Department of Chemistry during the 1970s and decided to return. He now divides his time between UCSB and the Sansum Institute.