Untitled design-43Cinnamon is a warm, sweet spice that you can sprinkle on top of your latte while eating a cinnamon roll. In addition to tantalizing your taste buds, cinnamon may improve your ability to learn, new research says.

The study, published in the journal Neuroimmune Pharmacology finds that mice that are considered poor learners improve in learning ability after consuming cinnamon.

“This would be one of the safest and easiest approaches to convert poor learners to good learners,” says Kalipada Pahan, Ph.D., lead researcher of the study and the Floyd A. Davis Prof. of Neurology at Rush University Medical Center.

Little is known about why some people are naturally good at learning and why some people who struggle with learning can either learn or fail to learn new skills with effort.

Pahan says that by finding out why some brain mechanisms result in poor learning, strategies can be developed to increase learning ability and improve memory.

Researchers have located proteins in the hippocampus – the part of the brain that is involved in memory formation, memory organization, and memory storing – that are present in poor learners.

In poor learners, less of the CREB protein – that plays a role in memory and learning – was present in the hippocampus.

Feeding the mice cinnamon improved their learning and memory by altering the proteins associated with poor learning.

On eating cinnamon, the mice metabolized the spice into sodium benzoate, which can be used as a treatment for brain damage.

“We have successfully used cinnamon to reverse biochemical, cellular and anatomical changes that occur in the brains of mice with poor learning,” says Pahan.

And Pahan added, “Individual difference in learning and educational performance is a global issue. We need to further test this approach in poor learners. If these results are replicated in poor learning students, it would be a remarkable advance.”

The team has also detected through analysis that not all types of cinnamon are equal. Of the two major types of cinnamon available in the US – Chinese and Ceylon – Ceylon cinnamon is purer, and Chinese cinnamon contains a molecule associated with liver damage.


July 17, 2016


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