Dec 1 / admin

Cinnamon for Xmas

Christmas is looming and ‘mix up Sunday’ for baking the traditional Christmas cake, and allowing it to mature, has already been and gone.  Cinnamon features widely in both traditional  spiced drinks and cakes and pastries. It has a distinctive festive taste but recent research has indicated an unexpected possible side benefit from regular consumption.

A study carried out at Tel Aviv University appears to indicate that the beta protein tangles which accumulate in the brain, eventually leading to Alzheimer’s disease, are modified and untangled when afflicted mice are fed an extract of cinnamon bark 1 The cinnamon extract resulted in improved cognitive ability, when given to the afflicted mice, so much so that their performance was close to the unaffected control group.

Finding a drug or medication which has the ability to remove or modify these tangles has been the ‘Holy Grail’ of Alzheimer’s research, if the research is transferable to human populations it will be truly remarkable that an ancient and now everyday spice might hold an answer to a distressing and otherwise untreatable condition.

It might be interesting if a human population, which traditionally consumes large amounts of cinnamon as part of their normal year round diet,  could be identified and shown subsequently to have a dramatically reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s.

It’s probably far too early to raise hopes,  and like many substances, excessive consumption of large amounts of cinnamon, e.g in capsules, may be harmful. (Some types of cinnamon also contain coumarin and other substances which can be toxic to the liver if consumed in large regular amounts). Used as it has been for thousands of years, in small amounts as a spice, it is safe. So we can all in the meantime enjoy our mulled wine and stollen,  and raise a glass to the potential power of cinnamon.

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