Cinnamon and Alzheimer
Alzheimer's, the degenerative brain disorder that disrupts memory, thought and behavior, is devastating to both patients and loved ones. According to the Alzheimer's Association, one in eight Americans over the age of 65 suffers from the disease. Now Tel Aviv University has discovered that an everyday spice in your kitchen cupboard could hold the key to Alzheimer's prevention. Cinnamon is a type of spice that is widely used for making various things such as eatables, beverages, pharmaceuticals and liquors. Apart from these commercial things, cinnamon is also one of the common household spices. We generally use cinnamon sticks and cinnamon powder for cooking. An extract found in cinnamon bark, called CEppt, contains properties that can inhibit the development of the Alzheimer disease.
Cinnamon has been known from remote antiquity.
Cinnamon has a broad range of historical health applications in different cultures, and over those years some of the anecdotal uses included boosting cognitive function and memory, treating rheumatism, helping with digestion and relieving certain menstrual disorders. In addition, when added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
Cinnamon is also being recommended in a more current use: to help curb the urge for tobacco. The National Institute of Health recommends chewing cinnamon sticks when trying to quit the use of tobacco.
In medicine it acts like other volatile oils and once had a reputation as a cure for colds. It has also been used to treat diarrhea and other problems of the digestive system. Cinnamon is high in antioxidant activity.
Prof. Ovadia, one of the authors of the current syrudy, was inspired to investigate the healing properties of cinnamon by a passage in the Bible. It describes high priests using the spice in a holy ointment, he explains, presumably meant to protect them from infectious diseases during sacrifices. After discovering that the cinnamon extract had antiviral properties, Prof. Ovadia empirically tested these properties in both laboratory and animal Alzheimer's models.
The researchers isolated CEppt by grinding cinnamon and extracting the substance into an aqueous buffer solution. They then introduced this solution into the drinking water of mice that had been genetically altered to develop an aggressive form of Alzheimer's disease, and fruit flies that had been mutated with a human gene that also stimulated Alzheimer's disease and shortened their lifespan.
After four months, the researchers discovered that development of the disease had slowed remarkably and the animals' activity levels and longevity were comparable to that of their healthy counterparts. The extract, explains Prof. Ovadia, inhibited the formation of toxic amyloid polypeptide oligomers and fibrils, which compose deposits of plaque found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.
In the test-tube model, the substance was also found to break up amyloid fibers, similar to those collected in the brain to kill neurons. According to Prof. Ovadia, this finding indicates that CEppt may not just fight against the development of the disease, but may help to cure it after Alzheimer's molecules have already formed.
It would take far more than a toxic level of the spice — more than 10 grams of raw cinnamon a day — to reap the therapeutic benefits. The solution to this medical catch-22, Prof. Ovadia says, would be to extract the active substance from cinnamon, separating it from the toxic elements.
"The discovery is extremely exciting. While there are companies developing synthetic AD inhibiting substances, our extract would not be a drug with side effects, but a safe, natural substance that human beings have been consuming for millennia," says Prof. Ovadia.
Though it can not yet be used to fight Alzheimer's, cinnamon still has its therapeutic benefits — it may also prevent viral infections when sprinkled into your morning tea.
For further information: http://www.aftau.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=14797