I have heard that casually from acquaintances. I was wondering if there is any scientific support backing this claim.
What you are hearing about is probably based on two articles:
They led to such headlines as
- UC Santa Barbara Scientists Discover Cinnamon Compounds' Potential Ability to Prevent Alzheimer's
- Cinnamon Compounds Could Help Protect Against Alzheimer's, Study Finds
- and to NaturalNews even exclaiming Cinnamon beats Alzheimers (and there are a lot of other headlines along those lines)
That's a bit of an overreaction to what these studies found.
Study 2 found that in mice, cinammon bark extract led to the formation of less aggregates of amyloid beta proteins, something that occurs in Alzheimer's disease. The mice also showed improvement in cognitive function. Mice are often used as model organism's in Alzheimer's studies, because we have transgenic mice that show symptoms of nerve degeneration. For some reason, this research used a different strain of mice that shows nerve degeneration as early as two months. Usually in Alzheimer's studies in mice, another strain is used that shows symptoms much later. That doesn't need to be a bad thing, just something I found interesting. The authors are optimistic about their study, but do recommend caution:
These characteristics could be a disadvantage for evaluating drug candidates that are moderately efficacious and could be overlooked when tested in such an aggressive model, as opposed to the common more moderate models which may recapitulate the slower progression of AD in humans. However, (...) dramatically improved their cognitive performance suggests that CEppt may be likewise effective in the more typical AD mice models and in human patients.
The other study, which from what I found received even more press attention, was an in vitro study, so done on cells in a laboratory. In that setting, compounds found in cinnamon reduced the formation of aggregates of the protein tau, which is also involved in the formation of Alzheimer's.
Basically, both studies suggest that some ingredients in cinammon can reduce two factors that we believe are involved in how Alzheimer's Disease progresses : accumulation of the amyloid-β peptide, and formation of neurofibrillary tangles of tau protein.
It's promising, but so far, no study in humans has been done and we can't say for certain whether these compounds can slow down or even halt the progression of Alzheimer's. We especially can't say in what doses an effect would occur.
Studies have been made and proven in mice that orally administrated cinnamon extract reduces β-amyloid oligomerization and corrects cognitive impairment in Alzheimer's diseased mice.
But scientist still haven't done enough testing to prove that it actually works for Alzheimer's patients and point out that more testing needs to be made.