The research published by Rush University is at a very early stage and we don’t yet know if cinnamon could be useful for people with Parkinson’s. The scientists showed that cinnamon may be able to halt the progression of Parkinson’s in a mouse model of the condition.
When eaten, cinnamon is turned into a compound called sodium benzoate – this has also been shown by other researchers. The team at Rush University found that sodium benzoate was able to stop the loss of two proteins – Parkin and DJ-1 – that are often decreased in the brains of people with Parkinson’s. The team believe that this may be due to the compound having anti-inflammatory properties that could protect brain cells.
Some of the research was done by injecting mice with sodium benzoate or cinnamon dissolved in another compound, but the researchers also looked at what happened when the mice were fed ground cinnamon.
They found that ground cinnamon helped protect cells in the basal ganglia – the area of the brain affected by Parkinson’s – and improved movement. But the paper doesn’t say how much cinnamon they had to feed the mice to see this effect.
A previous paper from the same group shows that sodium benzoate could be detected in the brain when mice were given 200mg per kilogram body weight per day – for a person that would be around 5 teaspoons of cinnamon a day. But as this paper doesn’t give an exact amount we can’t be certain how much was used.
We currently have no evidence that cinnamon can protect brain cells in people with Parkinson’s. Because of this we would not advise people to take cinnamon (or sodium benzoate) for their condition. However, we don’t know of any reason why you should not enjoy a sprinkle of cinnamon as part of a healthy diet.
All the best,
The Research Team