Cinnamon for Parkinson’s Disease?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

Can a common spice help stop a debilitating disease? That’s what the latest research suggests.

Scientists from Chicago found that cinnamon may alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in mice.

Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the loss of neurons in the substantia nigra, an area of the brain that produces dopamine and affects movement.

Typical symptoms include tremors, slowed movements, stiffness, and balance problems.

Currently few options exist to treat the disease. Fortunately, alternative therapies are coming to the forefront, providing additional options for the 7–10 million people who are affected worldwide.1

Cinnamon Improves Motor Activity and Normalizes Neurotransmitter Levels

Mice induced to develop a Parkinson’s-type disease were given cinnamon powder during the study. Results showed the cinnamon was metabolized into sodium benzoate (a preservative used in a variety of packaged foods) and crossed into the brain where it produced a variety of benefits.

Neurons were protected, and mice demonstrated improvements in motor activity, and neurotransmitter levels were normalized.2 In addition, it prevented the loss of Parkin and DJ-1, two proteins which are deficient in Parkinson’s disease.

Scientists considered the benefits of two different types of cinnamon (Ceylon and Chinese), and they concluded that Ceylon cinnamon was more promising than Chinese cinnamon due to the latter containing coumarin, a compound that is potentially toxic to the liver. Both types of cinnamon are available in supermarkets.

Cinnamon Promotes Neurogenesis

This isn’t the first study to show the benefit of cinnamon for a neurological disease. A previous one showed cinnamon may help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease.3 In addition, research suggests that cinnamon improves neurogenesis, the birth of new brain cells.4

The ability of the brain to generate new neurons is often impaired in Parkinson’s disease.5 This leaves the brain with a diminished reserve to replace dead neurons. By stimulating growth factors, cinnamon may potentially help to offset the symptoms related to the disease.

The Bottom Line

Parkinson’s disease affects 1–2% of adults over the age of 60.6, 7 If you'd like more information on the disease and its treatment options, be sure to give our Parkinson’s disease protocol a look.

References

  1. Available at: http://www.pdf.org/en/parkinson_statistics. Accessed July 10, 2014. 
  2. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2014 Jun 20. 
  3. PLoS One. 2013 Dec 13;8(12):e83243. 
  4. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. Jun 2013;8(3):739–755. 
  5. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2013 Feb;70(3):459-73. 
  6. Clin Interv Aging. Dec 2006; 1(4): 317–325. 
  7. Biochim Biophys Acta. Jan 2009; 1792(1): 68–74.

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