Cinnamon can stop the progression of Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms in mice, and according to researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, there is good reason to believe that this potent spice could also be beneficial to patients.
Parkinson’s disease is marked by the death of critical dopamine-producing neurons in the brain, which causes movement disturbances like tremor and rigidity, as well as many other symptoms throughout the body. Levels of several important proteins involved in protecting cells against stress are also lower in people with PD, including two proteins called Parkin and DJ1.
Mice that either harbor specific genetic mutations or are fed a toxic compound called MPTP, which give them many of the same physical symptoms and pathological changes as people with PD, were protected by eating cinnamon.
Cinnamon is converted to sodium benzoate in the liver, from which it enters the blood and travels to the brain. There, NaB appears to block the harmful molecules that cause Parkin and DJ1 to decrease, ultimately rescuing the vulnerable dopamine-producing cells from harm.
It’s a complicated mechanisms of checks and balances—but fortunately for people suffering from PD, it’s also a mechanism that works quite similarly in human brains. Currently available drugs for Parkinson’s disease can help to treat symptoms, but can’t stop the progress of the disease. Plus they can have troubling side-effects. Cinnamon could be a safe alternative to boost the brain’s own protective mechanism.
(Source: Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 2014; doi: 10.1007/s11481-014-9552-2)