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Cinnamon as Medicine?

Cinnamon may merit a place in your medicine cabinet as well as in your spice rack.

The popular spice may help prevent and combat diabetes by acting as an insulin substitute for people with type 2 diabetes, according to cellular and molecular research done jointly by the University of California, Santa Barbara, Iowa State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"Cinnamon itself has insulin-like activity and also can potentiate the activity of insulin. The latter could be quite important in treating those with type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon has a bio-active component that we believe has the potential to prevent or overcome diabetes," researcher Don Graves said in a prepared statement.

The University of California researcher and his colleagues have been studying the effects of cinnamon on diabetic mice, which have been fed water laced with cinnamon. The study began six months ago and final results are expected in another six months.

"More than 170 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, and for many, drugs or other forms of treatment are unavailable. It may be possible that many of these people could benefit from readily available natural products such as cinnamon," said Graves, an adjunct professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology.

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