Science Sunday: Cinnamon’s Neuroprotective Potential in Parkinson’s

“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” Thomas A. Edison

“Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food.” Hippocrates

Introduction: Besides being used in foods as a spice, cinnamon has been used for many years in eastern medicine. In western medicine, it has been used in approaches to complementary & alternative medicine (CAM).

Cinnamon is actually obtained from the inner bark of several tree species from the genus Cinnamomum. The significant types of cinnamon include Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon Cinnamon), Cinnamomum burmannii (Korintje Cinnamon), Cinnamomum cassia (Saigon Cinnamon), and Cinnamomum loureiroi (Royal Cinnamon). Ceylon cinnamon is often called true cinnamon, with this variety found native to Sri Lanka and Southern India. The majority of medicinal benefits described below are attributed to Ceylon cinnamon. The cassia form of cinnamon most often is found in supermarkets and may be listed as Saigon cinnamon.

This “Sunday Science” brief post describes the potential benefit of using Ceylon cinnamon to prevent Parkinson’s progression.

Image by Theo Crazzolara from Pixabay

“The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” William Osler

Cinnamon Exhibits a Neuroprotective Function in Various Models of Parkinson’s: Ceylon cinnamon has many documented properties, including anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic. And yes, neuroprotection is prominent in the list of disorders treated with cinnamon. Therefore, instead of a long detailed, written description of how cinnamon potentially works in the brain, I have prepared a schematic. (see Figure below).

“It is reasonable to expect the doctor to recognize that science may not have all the answers to problems of health and healing.” Norman Cousins

Cinnamon, by way of Sodium Benzoate, Activates these Physiological Pathways: I realize that many readers of this blog do not like animal models of Parkinson’s. However, defining a molecular process with cells growing in an incubator or a mouse-developed to get Parkinson’s, does provide an avenue of searching for answers. While Ceylon cinnamon has proven to be a very beneficial model of Parkinson’s disease, human trials lack data to evaluate the function of testing its effect on preventing disease progression. So, it looks like we may have to take it on ourselves.

Parkin– Parkin has a crucial function in the cell-derived system that rids the cell of damaged or excess proteins. This system is named ubiquitin. Ubiquitin signals to move unneeded proteins into specialized cell structures known as proteasomes, where the proteins are degraded. The primary function of Parkin is to ligate (attach) ubiquitin to lysine residues, an essential posttranslational modification involved in almost every cellular pathway.

DJ-1– DJ-1 has several biological roles, including regulating transcription and signal transduction pathways, scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS), and functioning as a molecular chaperone. The collective activity of these processes gives DJ-1 an anti-oxidative stress role.

BDNFBDNF promotes the survival of nerve cells (neurons) by playing a role in the growth, maturation (differentiation), and maintenance of these cells.

NT-3– In the substantia nigra and pyramidal tract, NT-3 promotes the regeneration of motor neurons and neuronal differentiation. NT-3 also supports the neurogenerative effects of NGF and BDNF following CNS injury.

“There is no medicine like hope.” Orison Swett Marden

Ceylon Cinnamon Treatment Begins Soon: I have Ceylon cinnamon, and I have a strategy for taking it. First, I will dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon in apple sauce 2x / day (morning and evening). I am waiting because I want to complete my evaluation of PEA (otherwise known as palmitoylethanolamide) before starting therapy with cinnamon. Adding PEA and cinnamon together could be ideal, but doing them apart gives me a better picture of how my body reacts to PEA therapy compared to Ceylon cinnamon treatment.

It took several hours of searching and comparing the various products advertised as Ceylon cinnamon. There is a concern with coumarin being present, which is a bleeding component. And you do not want that present when consuming large amounts of cinnamon.

References to Review of Cinnamon in Parkison’s:

Angelopoulou, Efthalia, Yam N. Paudel, Christina Piperi, and Awanish Mishra. “Neuroprotective potential of cinnamon and its metabolites in Parkinson’s disease: Mechanistic insights, limitations, and novel therapeutic opportunities.” Journal of biochemical and molecular toxicology 35, no. 4 (2021): e22720.

Kawatra, Pallavi, and Rathai Rajagopalan. “Cinnamon: Mystic powers of a minute ingredient.” Pharmacognosy research 7, no. Suppl 1 (2015): S1.

Shaltiel-Karyo, Ronit, Dan Davidi, Moran Frenkel-Pinter, Michael Ovadia, Daniel Segal, and Ehud Gazit. “Differential inhibition of α-synuclein oligomeric and fibrillar assembly in parkinson’s disease model by cinnamon extract.” Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-General Subjects 1820, no. 10 (2012): 1628-1635.

Pahan, Priyanka, and Kalipada Pahan. “Can cinnamon bring aroma in Parkinson’s disease treatment?.” Neural Regeneration Research 10, no. 1 (2015): 30.

Khasnavis, Saurabh, and Kalipada Pahan. “Cinnamon treatment upregulates neuroprotective proteins Parkin and DJ-1 and protects dopaminergic neurons in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease.” Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology 9, no. 4 (2014): 569-581.

Heo, Hyemin, Juhee Han, Minjeong Jeong, Hongjun Kim, and Insoo Jang. “A Review of the Neuroprotective Effects of Cinnamon in Experimental Studies on Parkinson’s Disease.” The Journal of Internal Korean Medicine 41, no. 6 (2020): 1089-1099.

Ribeiro-Santos, Regiane, Mariana Andrade, Dayana Madella, Ana Paula Martinazzo, Lívia de Aquino Garcia Moura, Nathália Ramos de Melo, and Ana Sanches-Silva. “Revisiting an ancient spice with medicinal purposes: Cinnamon.” Trends in Food Science & Technology 62 (2017): 154-169.

Nissen, Lisa, and Esther Lau. “A bit of spice for parkinson’s disease.” Australian Pharmacist 34, no. 4 (2015): 36.

Shah, Shital P., and John E. Duda. “Dietary modifications in Parkinson’s disease: A neuroprotective intervention?.” Medical hypotheses 85, no. 6 (2015): 1002-1005.

Rao, Pasupuleti Visweswara, and Siew Hua Gan. “Cinnamon: a multifaceted medicinal plant.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014 (2014).

Jana, Arundhati, Khushbu K. Modi, Avik Roy, John A. Anderson, Richard B. van Breemen, and Kalipada Pahan. “Up-regulation of neurotrophic factors by cinnamon and its metabolite sodium benzoate: therapeutic implications for neurodegenerative disorders.” Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology 8, no. 3 (2013): 739-755.

Goel, Bharti, and Sunidhi Mishra. “Medicinal and nutritional perspective of cinnamon: A mini-review.” Eur. J. Med. Plants 31 (2020): 10-16.

Rao, Pasupuleti Visweswara, and Siew Hua Gan. “Cinnamon: a multifaceted medicinal plant.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014 (2014).

Goel, Bharti, and Sunidhi Mishra. “Medicinal and nutritional perspective of cinnamon: A mini-review.” Eur. J. Med. Plants 31 (2020): 10-16.

Błaszczyk, Natalia, Angelina Rosiak, and Joanna Kałużna-Czaplińska. “The potential role of cinnamon in human health.” Forests 12, no. 5 (2021): 648.

“Oils of cinnamon and eucalyptus are as powerful against some microorganisms as conventional antibiotics, and are especially effective against flus. Sandalwood oil from Mysore, India, is not only a classic perfume oil but is also a traditional remedy for sore throats and laryngitis. Lavender oil, so often used in toilet waters and scented sachets, has a dramatic healing action on burns.” Robert Tisserand

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