Health & Wellbeing

Cinnamon adds some spice to learning

Cinnamon adds some spice to le...
Cinnamon may help boost our ability to learn
Cinnamon may help boost our ability to learn
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Cinnamon may help boost our ability to learn
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Cinnamon may help boost our ability to learn

If you have trouble learning, you might want to try eating more cinnamon. That's according to new research from Dr. Kalipada Pahan, a neuroscientist at Rush University and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago. Already, he's found that "slow learner" mice do better at finding their way through mazes, after a month of ingesting the spice.

Pahan and colleagues initially started by testing mice in mazes, to separate the poor learners from the good learners. The poor learners tended to make more wrong turns, and took longer to find the food reward at the end of the maze – an average of about 150 seconds. After eating cinnamon for a period of one month, however, their maze-solving time was down to around 60 seconds. That was right in line with the performance of the good learners.

The secret apparently lies with several compounds within cinnamon including cinnamaldehyde, which gives the spice its distinctive smell and flavor. Those compounds are metabolized by the liver into a chemical known as sodium benzoate, which subsequently enters the brain. There, it stimulates plasticity in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that's responsible for memory.

Additionally, when examining the brains of mice from the two groups, it was found that the poor learners initially had more of the protein GABRA5 and less of one called CREB. After the cinnamon treatment was complete, though, those proteins were at the same levels as those of the good learners.

What's more, it was also found that the sodium benzoate boosted the structural integrity of the brain cells, allowing them to communicate better with one another.

Pahan now hopes that cinnamon could be used not only to boost the learning capabilities of people such as students, but that it may also be used to treat conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Clinical trials are currently being planned.

A paper on the research was recently published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.

Source: US Department of Veterans Affairs

3 comments
Ov42
Sounds interesting, but I'd like to know what the dosage was that they were feeding the mice, and how would that translate into how much a human would have to consume before there were any visible effects. I'm wondering if this study's results are similar to the "dark chocolate is good for you" study, and other super food claims.
voluntaryist
I have a theory that if we pay attention (are in tune with) our body, our body will tell us what it needs. Since childhood (the fifties) I have had two strong food cravings, dark chocolate (reject milk or white) and cinnamon. When living in Africa for 15 months ('66-'67) I couldn't get my Mounds Bar so I bought a crude form of cacao and raw coconut. Now I find coconut is one of the two richest foods (avocado the other). I put cinnamon in my hot cacao/coffee/coconut milk daily. These are the only habits (addictions?) I retain after 73 years, unless you consider a preference for raw fruit an addiction.