Could This Spice Be a Secret Weapon Against Parkinson’s Disease?

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CinnamonThis article originally appeared on Live in the Now.

Research shows that cinnamon reverses some of the changes in the brain that occur in Parkinson’s disease (PD). “If these results are replicated in PD patients, it would be a remarkable advance in the treatment of this devastating neurodegenerative disease,” said lead author Dr. Kalipada Pahan.

The impressiveness of the study conducted at Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago stemmed from the fact that cinnamon reversed biochemical, anatomical and functional changes that occur in the illness. After mice were fed cinnamon, a metabolite of the spice entered the brain and stopped the loss of two important proteins that diminish in patients with PD. It also protected nerve cells, improved motor performance and normalized levels of neurotransmitters, chemicals that are out of balance in the disease.

Ceylon Cinnamon Works Better Than Chinese Cinnamon

Cinnamon’s metabolite that proved so beneficial is sodium benzoate, a chemical used as a food preservative due to its antimicrobial properties. It is also an FDA-approved drug prescribed for a liver disorder, Pahan notes.

The types of cinnamon available in the U.S. are Ceylon cinnamon and Chinese cinnamon. Both types are metabolized into sodium benzoate, but the Ceylon variety produced better results because it is much purer, adds Pahan.

Parkinson’s disease causes the gradual deterioration of a small area of cells within the midbrain, which in turn leads to a reduction in the neurotransmitter dopamine. This effect is responsible for one or more of the typical signs of the illness that includes slowness of movement and stiffness, as well as tremors and balance problems.

Approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. and Canada have Parkinson’s disease. While 15 percent of the cases are diagnosed before the age of 50, PD usually targets people over the age of 60.

The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology. Now that the scientists have observed the encouraging effects in mice, the next step is to test it on patients with PD.

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