Cinnamon has been used for centuries worldwide as both a spice and medicine. It was considered so valuable that wars were waged over the right to trade cinnamon. At one time in ancient Rome, it was even more expensive by weight than gold.
Over the past several decades, numerous research studies have shown that cinnamon has numerous health benefits, and a study published June 20 in Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology concluded that cinnamon may be a promising treatment for Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s Disease is the second most common degenerative brain disease (after Alzheimer’s Disease), and its symptoms include shaking tremor, rigidity of the face and body, and slow, difficult walking. Medications help, but doctors are always looking for better treatments, with fewer side effects. Dr. K. Pahan, lead researcher, said “This (cinnamon) could potentially be one of the safest approaches to halt disease progression in Parkinson’s patients.”
Parkinson’s disease is caused by a progressive death of brain cells in a part of the brain called the substantianigra . Much research has been carried out on mice, which serves as a model for what happens in humans. The current study, from Rush University Medical Center (Chicago), showed that feeding cinnamon to mice resulted in protecting brain cells from degeneration, along with stabilizing levels of the critical neurotransmitter dopamine, which is decreased in Parkinson’s patients.
Researchers will now study if humans have the same improvement, and, while that will take several years, in the meantime, adding cinnamon to one’s diet is probably a reasonable approach for those diagnosed or at risk for the disease.
Besides possibly helping against Pakinson’s Disease, here are some other areas where cinnamon has shown benefit (not yet proven) in medical research studies:
-Lowering blood sugar and regulating lipid levels in diabetes
-Anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-oxidant properties
There are two main types of cinnamon commercially available—the more commonly found version cassia type, typically from China; and the more expensive Ceylon type (Cinnamomum verum). The Ceylon variety is considered better, as the Chinese cassia variety has a higher level of coumarin, which in significant doses can cause liver or bleeding problems. Only use cinnamon when added to liquids or foods; it can be dangerous when eaten dry.
Diabetics, pregnant or nursing women, or those with cancer, should check with their doctors before seriously adding cinnamon to their diets, but everyone else might consider doing what we here at ProcuraMed do when we drink coffee—add a few shakes of cinnamon. It just might help protect our brains!
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