Cinnamon Improves Your Memory And Cognition
A new review of the scientific literature finds evidence to support the role of cinnamon and several of its bioactive compounds in preserving brain function and in slowing cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s Disease
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Cinnamon is an aromatic spice that is the inner bark from several closely related species of Cinnamomum trees. These tropical evergreens range throughout the mountains of Southeast Asia, particularly the Himalayas, and are also found in the forests of southern China, India and Southeast Asia.
Many studies have suggested that cinnamon and its active compounds may improve brain health and possibly prevent dementia, but the evidence for any of these benefits has yet to be verified in humans. Cinnamon contains several bioactive compounds including cinnamaldehyde, coumarin, and tannins, and we do know that some of these can enter the brain and once there, they may reduce oxidative stress or inflammation.
To better understand the effects of cinnamon in human cognitive function, a team of medical doctors and their medical students at Birjand University of Medical Sciences recently published their analysis and review of the scientific literature in their quest to determine whether there is a relationship between consumption of cinnamon and learning and memory.
The team started their work by using different databases (PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar, and Web of Science) in September 2021 to search out relevant studies. They identified 2,605 cinnamon studies. To determine whether these studies met their own criteria for inclusion in their own review, the research team extracted and analyzed data from these studies, including the compound or type of cinnamon used, the study population and sample sizes, doses of cinnamon or its bioactive components used, gender and age of participants, duration and method of consumption, and the results obtained. They also assessed the quality and reliability of the studies using a variety of additional criteria.
After all this work was done, the researchers found that 40 studies met their criteria. These studies included 33 in vivo studies (in living beings, such as such as humans, rodents, or other animals), five in vitro studies (either in cell cultures or in post-mortem tissue studies), and two clinical studies with living medical patients.
Most of the studies found that consumption of cinnamon significantly improves learning and memory in people. For example, the in vivo studies found that cinnamon or its components, such as eugenol, cinnamaldehyde, and cinnamic acid, could positively impact cognitive function. This finding was supported by the in vitro studies showing that adding cinnamon or cinnamaldehyde to a cell growth medium can increase cell viability and reduce aggregations of tau protein and amyloid β peptide. Aggregates of tau protein are associated with a diverse group of neurologic diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. The amyloid β peptide appears to play a central role in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.
The two clinical studies showed similar results. One clinical study, conducted on teens, asked them to chew cinnamon gum. This study reported positive results, suggesting that chewing cinnamon gum improved memory whilst reducing anxiety.
The other study was conducted on pre-diabetic adults who were 60 years old or younger. This study asked participants to put 2 grams (appx ¾ teaspoon) of ground cinnamon on white bread and eat that daily. This study found no significant changes one way or the other in the cognitive function of their study participants.
The research team is hopeful that their review will inspire other scientists to further investigate the association between cinnamon and some of its active components on the functioning of the human brain, especially its relationship to boosting memory and learning and to slowing down cognitive impairment.
Samaneh Nakhaee, Alireza Kooshki, Ali Hormozi, Aref Akbari, Omid Mehrpour, and Khadijeh Farrokhfall (2023). Cinnamon and cognitive function: a systematic review of preclinical and clinical studies, Nutritional Neuroscience | doi:10.1080/1028415X.2023.2166436
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