Reversing Brain Damage In Parkinson's Disease With Cinnamon
July 10, 2014

Reversing Brain Damage In Parkinson’s Disease With Cinnamon

Rebekah Eliason for – Your Universe Online

A new study from Rush University Medical Center has found that cinnamon can reverse brain damage in mice caused by Parkinson’s disease. This common food spice effectively treats biomechanical, cellular and anatomical changes in the brain.

“Cinnamon has been used widely as a spice throughout the world for centuries,” said Kalipada Pahan, PhD, study lead researcher and the Floyd A. Davis professor of neurology at Rush. “This could potentially be one of the safest approaches to halt disease progression in Parkinson’s patients.”

“Cinnamon is metabolized in the liver to sodium benzoate, which is an FDA-approved drug used in the treatment for hepatic metabolic defects associated with hyperammonemia,” said Pahan. In addition, sodium benzoate is a widely used food preservative because of its microbiocidal effect.

Both Chinese cinnamon and the original Ceylon cinnamon are the two varities readily available in the United States.

“Although both types of cinnamon are metabolized into sodium benzoate, by mass spectrometric analysis, we have seen that Ceylon cinnamon is much more pure than Chinese cinnamon as the latter contains coumarin, a hepatotoxic molecule,” said Pahan.

“Understanding how the disease works is important to developing effective drugs that protect the brain and stop the progression of PD,” said Pahan. “It is known that some important proteins like Parkin and DJ-1 decrease in the brain of PD patients.”

In this study, researchers found that ground cinnamon is metabolized into sodium benzoate after oral feeding. This chemical then enters the brain to stop the loss of Parkin and DJ-1, protect neurons, normalize neurotransmitter levels and improve motor function in mice with Parkinson’s disease.

“Now we need to translate this finding to the clinic and test ground cinnamon in patients with PD. If these results are replicated in PD patients, it would be a remarkable advance in the treatment of this devastating neurodegenerative disease,” said Dr. Pahan.

Parkinson’s disease affects a very small area of cells in the mid-brain region known as the substantia nigra. This disease progresses slowly and the degeneration causes a reduction of dopamine, a vital chemical neurotransmitter. Classic signs of Parkinson’s disease include resting tremor on one side of the body, generalized slowness of movement, stiffness of limbs, and gait or balance problems. Although the cause of the disease remains unknown, both environmental and genetic causes have been suggested.

About 1.2 million people are affected by the disease in the United States and Canada. Generally, it is considered a disease among older people, affecting one in every 100 persons over the age of 60, but fifteen percent of patients are diagnosed before they are 50 years old.

This study was published June 20, 2014 in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology and was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.


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