New York: The popular spice cinnamon can slow down the progression of Parkinson's disease, a study shows.
The discovery can herald a remarkable advance in the treatment of this devastating neurodegenerative disease.
"Cinnamon has been used widely as a spice throughout the world for centuries. The spice can reverse the biomechanical, cellular and anatomical changes that occur in the brains of mice with Parkinson's disease," said Kalipada Pahan, a Floyd A Davis professor of neurology at Illinois-based Rush University.
The study found that after oral feeding, ground cinnamon is metabolised in the liver into sodium benzoate.
It then enters into the brain, stops the loss of important proteins Parkin and DJ-1, protects neurons, normalises neurotransmitter levels and improves motor functions in mice with PD.
Understanding how the disease works is important to developing effective drugs that protect the brain and stop the progression of PD.
"Now we need to translate this finding to the clinic and test ground cinnamon in patients with PD," Pahan added.
Cinnamon is also widely used as a food preservative due to its microbiocidal effect.
The study was published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.