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Reuters Health Information (2013-12-24): Cinnamon might help in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease


Cinnamon might help in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Last Updated: 2013-12-24 12:31:47 -0500 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Cinnamon may help remedy lipid profiles and have therapeutic benefits in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to a new Iranian trial.

"We found that 12 weeks consumption of 1.5 grams (half of a teaspoon) cinnamon per day plus a balanced diet improves insulin resistance and NAFLD characteristics," Dr. Azita Hekmatdoost told Reuters Health by email.

In a paper online December 9 in Nutrition Research, Dr. Hekmatdoost of the Research Institute Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, and colleagues note that there is no proven treatment for NAFLD.

However, because of its anti-oxidant and insulin-sensitizer properties, they point out, cinnamon might be of value.

To investigate, the researchers studied 50 patients who were randomized to two 750 mg capsules of cinnamon or placebo daily for 12 weeks. All patients were given advice on how to integrate a balanced diet and physical activity into their daily lives.

In both groups, LDL cholesterol dropped significantly but there was no significant change in serum HDL cholesterol levels. After 12 weeks, LDL levels were 55.8 mg/dL in the treatment group and 90.3 mg/dL in the placebo group (p=0.032).

In the active treatment group there were also significant decreases in the HOMA (Homeostatic Model Assessment) index, fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, triglyceride, alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase. This was also true of gamma glutamine transpeptidase and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP).

The researchers note that although the study was small, the findings are in line with those of other studies and confirm their hypothesis that cinnamon supplementation can reduce the main characteristics of NAFLD, including insulin resistance, liver enzymes, and the inflammatory marker hs-CRP.

More studies are needed, they conclude, but it appears that cinnamon "could be a good adjuvant therapeutic option for this disease."

Dr. Jo Carol Chezem of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, who was not part of the study, was impressed by the findings.

"The study was well-controlled," said Dr. Chezem, who has studied cinnamon's medical effects. "There were dramatic improvements in liver enzymes, insulin resistance, blood lipids and hs-CRP with cinnamon supplementation."

"Previous research has established cinnamon's positive impact on hyperlipidemia and insulin resistance; results from this study suggest cinnamon may improve two additional characteristics of NAFLD - elevated liver enzymes and hs-CRP," Dr. Chezem said.

She added at this level of oral supplementation "side effects are uncommon and typically mild."

"These preliminary findings of cinnamon's beneficial effects in NAFLD," Dr. Chezem concluded, "are very promising."


Nutrition Research 2013.

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