Rush Medical Center scientists study cinnamon for fighting MS
Cinnamon may be a non-toxic way to stop myelin sheath destruction from multiple sclerosis, suggested by animal studies. Now researchers plan to move forward with research on the impact of cinnamon that might halt nerve fiber damage that occurs from MS that is an autoimmune disease
Rush University Medical Center has received a $750,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to see if the common household spice used for centuries to ease inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and sore throat, can also inhibit pro-inflammatory molecules that trigger MS.
Cinnamon metabolite blocks disease process associated with MS
Kalipada Pahan, PhD., who is the Floyd A. Davis professor of neurology at Rush and principal investigator of the study found sodium benzoate that is a metabolite of cinnamon blocks molecules that promote inflammation and activation of glial cells that destroy myelin sheath in multiple sclerosis. Glial cells activation is also implicated in other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Nerve damage from multiple sclerosis can occur anywhere, making symptoms varied, depending on which nerves are affected. The cause of MS is unknown, but thought to be an autoimmune disorder, possibly triggered by environmental factors. Research has also linked MS with the Epstein-Barr virus.
Pahan explains, “These autoimmune reactions in the brain ultimately kill oligodendrocytes, which are a certain type of brain cell that protects the nerve cells and myelin sheath,” said Pahan. “However, cinnamon has an anti-inflammatory property to counteract and inhibit the glial activation that causes brain cell death.”
In mouse studies, researchers gave different doses of sodium benzoate, added to the animal’s drinking water. The studies showed a 70 percent reduction in clinical MS score that were published in the Journal of Immunology.
Medications to treat MS are costly and injections are painful. Pahan says, “If our study is successful, there may be a day when just a teaspoonful of ground cinnamon per day with milk, tea or honey, may help MS patients manage the disease."