Thinking about adding cinnamon to your diet to fight Parkinson's? Cinnamon has been touted as a good supplement for cholesterol and diabetes, and now, Parkinson’s. Research conducted by Professor Kalipada Pahan and his associates at Rush University and published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, found that after oral feeding in mice, ground cinnamon is metabolized into sodium benzoate, which then enters into the brain and stops the loss of beneficial proteins (Parkin and DJ-1) and protects dopaminergic neurons. These are cells believed to be intimately involved in Parkinson disease.

Specifically, researchers say that, oral feeding of cinnamon powder produces sodium benzoate (NaB) in the blood and brain of mice. Sodium benzoate is an approved drug used in the treatment of neural disorders. It is also commonly found in soft drinks and is frequently used as a food preservative. Possibly the largest use of sodium benzoate, accounting for 30-35% of the total demand is as an anticorrosive, particularly as an additive to automotive engine antifreeze coolants, according to the World Health Organization.

Sodium benzoate is known to attach the mitochondria of DNA and some studies link sodium benzoate and DNA damage to negative outcomes in Parkinson disease and liver problems.

It is unknown how much cinnamon you would have to consume to experience these negative effects because the effects of chronic exposure to sodium benzoate have not been studied in humans.

Aside from sodium benzoate, Cinnamon contains another chemical that can cause liver damage.  Ceylon cinnamon, found in health food stores, is a purer variety, which contains less of this chemical, in case you are thinking of adding a significant amount of this spice to your diet.

Of Cinnamon Dr. Pahan says, “This could potentially be one of the safest approaches to halt disease progression in Parkinson’s patients.” This may very well be true. However, he also remarked, “Now we need to translate this finding to the clinic and test ground cinnamon in patients with PD. If these results are replicated in PD patients, it would be a remarkable advance in the treatment of this devastating neurodegenerative disease.”  Before you go out and invest in a cinnamon regimen, keep in mind that we don’t yet know if it will work in humans and the effects of long term repeated use of unusual amounts of cinnamon is unknown.

Written by Doreen Sutherland


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