Brain Health

What Cinnamon Can Do To The Brain Is Pretty Shocking

Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices in both the United States and the world.

If you go down any aisle in the grocery store, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find an item without cinnamon in it. This is true even of the home goods and cleaning supplies aisle (as it’s used in certain cleaning solutions).

And while cinnamon is a great additive to foods, cleaning products and more, it’s also an incredible herb for helping to boost total health.

The good news is we know a lot about cinnamon and the positive effect it has on health.

Dozens of studies have shown cinnamon is likely to help with conditions like:

  • Heart disease
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Diabetes
  • Fungal infections
  • Cancer

Plus many, many more.

Exciting as it is to know how powerful cinnamon is, I think this new study corroborating a link between cinnamon and brain health is pretty significant.

Kalipada Pahan, Ph.D and Floyd A. Davis, Prof. of Neurology at Rush (along with their team) published a study in Neuroimmune Pharmacology proving cinnamon has a positive influence on learning.

In basic terms, they noticed cinnamon helped their test subjects learn better.

No, it didn’t make them smarter, so chewing Big Red gum or sucking on a cinnamon stick won’t turn you into Einstein.

What the cinnamon did do was help modulate a protein structure found in the brain associated with learning.

While we don’t know exactly why some people are better learners than others, through observation we’ve been able to come to some conclusions about the brains of both good and poor learners.

Through the research, it’s been revealed poor learners don’t have as much of a protein known as CREB protein as good learners do.

Studying the hippocampus (the section of the brain directly involved with memory formation, memory organization, and memory storing), they saw this protein structure wasn’t as abundant as in better learners.

Conversely, there was an abundance of another kind of protein structure called alpha5 subunit of GABAA receptor (or GABRA5) proteins. These proteins actually prevent the brain from operating like it should, and this is believed to impair learning.

The researchers at Rush determined cinnamon might help with learning by giving mice who were labeled poor learners (based on their behavior) cinnamon every day for a month.

They then put them in a maze with 20 holes for two days, and trained them so the mice would learn to find a target hole.

After the two-day trial period, they noticed the poor learners who were given cinnamon did better at finding the holes than the poor learners who hadn’t had cinnamon.

This brought them to conclude cinnamon helped to promote CREB protein formation.

Curious about the exact mechanism responsible for this?

After the mice metabolized the cinnamon, sodium benzoate was created. Sodium benzoate, which is commonly used for the treatment of brain damage, increased the CREB protein in the mice’s brains while also decreasing GABRA5.

This ultimately affected the brains’ ability to learn (for the better).

Pahan said of their findings:

“We have successfully used cinnamon to reverse biochemical, cellular and anatomical changes that occur in the brains of mice with poor learning.” 

There aren’t any recommendations on how much cinnamon to take to increase learning; however, supplemental forms of cinnamon ranging from 500mg -1000mg are the common recommendations.

If choosing to add cinnamon to your diet, use Ceylon over Chinese as it’s safer and purer.

Talk soon,

Dr. Wiggy