Cinnamon- Tasty and Good for Your Brain?

In the goal of finding natural ways to combat the development and progression of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia, one spice and its extracts have been researched multiple times- cinnamon. So, what's the verdict? Is it hype or are there real benefits to cinnamon?

Finely ground cinnamon in white ceramic bowl isolated on white wood background from above. Cinnamon sticks.
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The Effects of Cinnamon on Brain Functioning and Structure

According to a study published in 2009 in the Journal of Alzheimer's disease, ceylon cinnamon (C.zeylanicum), an extract of cinnamon, was found to inhibit the grouping of tau protein into the clumps and tangles they typically form as Alzheimer's disease develops in humans.

A second study (2011) demonstrated that an extract from cinnamon (CEppt) was also able to reduce the buildup of plaque in the brains of both flies and mice who were given Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, the cognitive functioning of both the flies and the mice were significantly improved following the administration of the CEppt.

In 2013, researchers again found that two extracts from cinnamon- Cinnamaldehyde and Epicatechin- demonstrated the ability to prevent the build-up of tau protein in humans' brains.

An article published in PLoS One in 2013 discusses research that explores how rats who were fed a high sugar and fatty diet designed to impair insulin processing of glucose (and thus induce cognitive impairment) reacted when they were fed cinnamon. The rats who were given cinnamon demonstrated significantly improved cognitive functioning, an improvement in insulin sensitivity, and a reversal of physical brain changes such as the buildup of tau and amyloid proteins that had developed due to their diet. In other words, both the brain structure and size, as well as the brain's cognitive abilities such as memory, were improved by the addition of cinnamon to their diet.

Related Reading

Why Is Alzheimer's Disease Called Type 3 Diabetes?

How Does Caffeine Affect the Brain?

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  • Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease In Vitro.
  • Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 17 (2009) 585–597. Cinnamon Extract Inhibits Tau Aggregation
  • Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 36 (2013) 21–40. Interaction of Cinnamaldehyde and Epicatechin with Tau: Implications of Beneficial Effects in Modulating Alzheimer’s Disease Pathogenesis.
  • PLoS One. 2011; 6(1): e16564. Orally Administrated Cinnamon Extract Reduces β-Amyloid Oligomerization and Corrects Cognitive Impairment in Alzheimer's Disease Animal Models.
  • PLoS One. 2013; 8(12): e83243. Cinnamon Counteracts the Negative Effects of a High Fat/High Fructose Diet on Behavior, Brain Insulin Signaling and Alzheimer-Associated Changes.