Cinnamon may be used to halt the progression of Parkinson's disease

July 9, 2014
Immunohistochemistry for alpha-synuclein showing positive staining (brown) of an intraneural Lewy-body in the Substantia nigra in Parkinson's disease. Credit: Wikipedia

Neurological scientists at Rush University Medical Center have found that using cinnamon, a common food spice and flavoring material, can reverse the biomechanical, cellular and anatomical changes that occur in the brains of mice with Parkinson's disease (PD). The results of the study were recently published in the June 20 issue of the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.

"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. It is also widely used as a food preservative due to its microbiocidal effect.

Chinese cinnamon (Cinnamonum cassia) and original Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamonum verum) are two major types of cinnamon that are available in the US.

"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."

The study found that after oral feeding, ground cinnamon is metabolized into sodium benzoate, which then enters into the brain, stops the loss of Parkin and DJ-1, protects neurons, normalizes neurotransmitter levels, and improves motor functions in mice with PD.

This research was supported by grants from National Institutes of Health.

"Now we need to translate this finding to the clinic and test ground 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 is a slowly progressive disease that affects a small area of cells within the mid-brain known as the substantia nigra. Gradual degeneration of these cells causes a reduction in a vital chemical neurotransmitter, dopamine. The decrease in dopamine results in one or more of the classic signs of Parkinson's disease that includes: resting tremor on one side of the body; generalized slowness of movement; stiffness of limbs; and gait or balance problems. The cause of the disease is unknown. Both environmental and genetic causes of the disease have been postulated.

Parkinson's disease affects about 1.2 million patients in the United States and Canada. Although 15 percent of patients are diagnosed before age 50, it is generally considered a disease that targets older adults, affecting one of every 100 persons over the age of 60. This disease appears to be slightly more common in men than women.

Explore further: Study on coumarin in cinnamon and cinnamon-based products

Related Stories

Study on coumarin in cinnamon and cinnamon-based products

May 8, 2013
Many kinds of cinnamon, cinnamon-flavored foods, beverages and food supplements in the United States use a form of the spice that contains high levels of a natural substance that may cause liver damage in some sensitive people, ...

Potential impact of cinnamon on multiple sclerosis studied

June 22, 2011
A neurological scientist at Rush University Medical Center has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to evaluate whether cinnamon, a common food spice and flavoring material, may stop the destructive ...

Sudden decline in testosterone may cause Parkinson's disease symptoms in men

July 27, 2013
The results of a new study by neurological researchers at Rush University Medical Center show that a sudden decrease of testosterone, the male sex hormone, may cause Parkinson's like symptoms in male mice. The findings were ...

Deep brain stimulation improves non motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease

June 25, 2014
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has become a well-recognized non-pharmacologic treatment that improves motor symptoms of patients with early and advanced Parkinson's disease. Evidence now indicates that DBS can decrease the ...

Recommended for you

A new insight into Parkinson's disease protein

July 28, 2017
Abnormal clumps of certain proteins in the brain are a prominent feature of Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases, but the role those same proteins might play in the normal brain has been unknown.

Waterlogged brain region helps scientists gauge damage caused by Parkinson's disease

July 26, 2017
Scientists at the University of Florida have discovered a new method of observing the brain changes caused by Parkinson's disease, which destroys neurons important for movement. The development suggests that fluid changes ...

Parkinson's is partly an autoimmune disease, study finds

June 21, 2017
Researchers have found the first direct evidence that autoimmunity—in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues—plays a role in Parkinson's disease, the neurodegenerative movement disorder. The findings raise ...

Predicting cognitive deficits in people with Parkinson's disease

June 20, 2017
Parkinson's disease (PD) is commonly thought of as a movement disorder, but after years of living with PD approximately twenty five percent of patients also experience deficits in cognition that impair function. A newly developed ...

Pre-clinical study suggests Parkinson's could start in gut endocrine cells

June 15, 2017
Recent research on Parkinson's disease has focused on the gut-brain connection, examining patients' gut bacteria, and even how severing the vagus nerve connecting the stomach and brain might protect some people from the debilitating ...

Hi-res view of protein complex shows how it breaks up protein tangles

June 15, 2017
Misfolded proteins are the culprits behind amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other neurodegenerative brain disorders. These distorted proteins are unable to perform their normal ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

SusejDog
not rated yet Jul 09, 2014
Some small amount of coumarin is actually good for you. See Wikipedia for more info. I wouldn't take more than about a gram of cassia a day.
Bradfield
not rated yet Jul 10, 2014
Interesting but how does it compare to this research :

http://www.natura...cer.html

This is where Edward De Bono's Vertical & Lateral thinking needs to be put to use. This article is Vertical thinking but in fact serious Lateral thinking needs to be applied.
Skepticus_Rex
not rated yet Jul 12, 2014
If your research article's use of sources is any indication, I'd say it doesn't compare to that described in the medicalexpress news article so well.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.