Image credit: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl... Can cinnamon spice down autoimmune diseases?
This post includes both personal observation and evidence from the medical literature.
Using The Correct Cinnamon:
There are two varieties of cinnamon. One is Ceylon cinnamon, also known as cinnamomum verum or cinnamomum zeylanicum, which has an acceptable safety profile. The other variety of cinnamon, cassia cinnamon, contains coumarin, a blood thinner. It is also called cinnamomum aromaticum, and is grown in Southeast Asia. It should not be consumed in quantity. Ceylon cinnamon is readily available at Amazon and elsewhere. It is milder than cassia cinnamon, which makes it easier to ingest in quantity. In what follows, "cinnamon" refers to Ceylon cinnamon.
Date started cinnamon treatment: November 6, 2020. UPDRS score at start of treatment: 35
My score had been 25 prior to a misadventure with another treatment. Cinnamon treatment improved my status as compared to before that event: UPDRS score as of completion of treatment on December 29, 2020: 20. (For those unfamiliar with UPDRS, lower is better)
My main symptom is motor impairment which has been much improved. I do have some tremor which is unchanged.
I am very sensitive to levodopa - too much interferes with my walking, causing my leg on the affected side to be too tight and unable to move easily. Levodopa dosage prior to starting cinnamon treatment: 100 milligrams 3x daily, as Carbidopa / levodopa ER. Exercise with medication in "ON" state. Levodopa dosage at December 29, 2020: 100 milligrams 2x daily. I now exercise in the "OFF"/unmedicated state because any additional levodopa is too much.
Update December 2021: after one year without three grams daily cinnamon, my levodopa need has crept back up to 250-300 milligrams levodopa daily. I recently resumed taking one gram of cinnamon daily. If that does not help I will try an increase of my dosage.
Dexterity has been restored to my affected arm - I am now able to manipulate buttons equally well with my affected hand. I walk more easily – A person who had not seen me for several weeks remarked I was no longer dragging my leg. These abilities are an improvement over my status prior to the misadventure I mentioned above, as is the need to exercise in the off state.
Personal observations indicating underlying disease condition is improved:
In past attempts at herbal remedies, motor improvement came at a cost - dystonia, which was unacceptable, and indicated some adverse change was occurring as well as favorable change. That has not been the case with cinnamon. Improvement was gradual since the start of this treatment, and improvement has been maintained in the month since end of treatment. This is unlike a symptom reducing medication that merely increases the overall amount of dopamine present.
During most of the seven week treatment period I took 3 g of cinnamon daily, mixed with food over the course of the day, without adverse effect. During the final week I increased my dosage to 6 g daily which apparently triggered a flare of a chronic infection that had been in remission. Inflammation can serve a useful purpose. Reducing it too much can be too much of a good thing.
Approximately one year later I have been able to resume cinnamon treatment at 2 grams daily without adverse effect.
Evidence From The Medical Literature
Mixed effect on inflammation:
According to animal data at academic.oup.com/jn/article..., cinnamon is pro-inflammatory in macrophages, an immune cell that exists outside of the brain. Table 3 in this study lists macrophage messenger RNA levels, as a multiple of baseline, as a result of exposure to:
"CPE" - cinnamon polyphenol extract. "LPS" - lipopolysaccharide, a component of bacterial cell walls and one of the most inflammatory compounds in existence.
TNF ..............6.2 ..............48
COX2 ..........3.4 ..............532
IL-6............... 3.2 ...........1865
Although the cinnamon extract was not as inflammatory as LPS, it did promote inflammation according to this study.
On the other hand, according to this study, link.springer.com/article/1... cinnamon essential oil had an anti-inflammatory effect on the microglia, which are immune system cells inside the brain: "Our results showed that TCA [cinnamon essential oil] significantly ... decreased iNOS and COX-2 protein expression level ...It also reduced LPS-induced mRNA expression of iNOS, COX-2, and TNFα."
According to this study:
Can cinnamon spice down autoimmune diseases?
" Recent studies indicate that cinnamon either in powder or extract form and NaB are capable of modulating different autoimmune pathways as well as protecting animals from different autoimmune disorders...Accordingly, in a recent randomized double-blind clinical trial ...oral cinnamon (2000 mg/patient/day) treatment significantly reduced the disease activity [of rheumatoid arthritis] score, visual analog scale, and tender and swollen joints counts ... rodent results suggest cinnamon as a possible complementary and alternative medicine for MS [multiple sclerosis]...Decrease in pro-inflammatory molecules by cinnamon... Decrease in inflammatory infiltration by cinnamon:.." Further details of the auto immune down regulation from this study shown in the title image.
Because of mixed data with regard to inflammation in the body, caution is in order for those with inflammatory or autoimmune conditions.
Safety profile, other than inflammation:
There is a case report of cinnamon causing edema: jabfm.org/content/31/5/809.... If you experience edema after starting cinnamon then you should stop and cinnamon is not for you.
In a study of diabetics here: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/146... 10 patients each took 3 or 6 g of cinnamon daily for 40 days without any adverse effects reported:
"Results: After 40 days, all three levels of cinnamon reduced the mean fasting serum glucose (18-29%), triglyceride (23-30%), LDL cholesterol (7-27%), and total cholesterol (12-26%) levels; no significant changes were noted in the placebo groups. "
This is great, but it can be adverse for those suffering from hypoglycemia.
In another study, here: link.springer.com/article/1... 30 subjects participated in a three-month escalating dose study. At the final month they took a daily capsule of cinnamon extract equivalent to 6 g of cinnamon - which is to say concentrated cinnamon. Four suffered digestive upset, and two dropped out of the study for that reason. No other adverse effects were reported. We are not taking cinnamon extract, and mixing cinnamon with food or drink minimizes the likelihood of digestive upset.
Animal studies found excellent safety, which was reviewed here: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/226...
Therapeutic effect on Parkinson's :
Researcher Kalipada Pahan has spent many years studying the effect of cinnamon on Parkinson's and published numerous studies, most recently here: link.springer.com/article/1...
"The present investigation underlines the importance of a naturally used spice and flavoring agent viz. cinnamon in reducing α-syn deposits in transgenic mice expressing mutant A53T human α-syn. Upon oral administration, cinnamon markedly reduced the level of insoluble α-syn in nigra, hippocampus and brain stem of A53T mice... Glial activation plays an important role in the pathogenesis of various neurodegenerative disorders including PD... and we found suppression of microglial and astroglial activation in the nigra of A53T mice upon cinnamon treatment. Moreover, neuroprotective proteins like DJ-1 and Parkin are known to reduce the formation of Lewy bodies in the CNS. Accordingly, we observed upregulation and/or normalization of DJ-1 and Parkin in the nigra of A53T mice by treatment with cinnamon...
"Quantification of α-syn immunostaining indicated a significant reduction of α-syn in cinnamon-treated mice relative to the vehicle-treated group...cinnamon treatment decreased the level of insoluble, but not soluble, α-syn in the nigra ofA53T mice... Mice were treated with cinnamon (100 mg/kg body wt/d) ... via gavage for 60d. "
Adjusting for metabolic rate as set forth here: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl... the mouse dosage is equivalent to 8 mg/kg body wt/d for a human, about .5 g for a 60 kg (132 pound) human. This may or may not be an effective human dosage.
I am not an M.D., just a fellow member of the Parkinson's club. I cannot offer any guarantees, nor assume liability. If you try the cinnamon treatment and some adverse effect arises you should stop.
Avoid potential Interaction with Covid and Covid vaccination:
Since the interaction with Covid and Covid vaccination is unknown, take a break from cinnamon treatment if you suspect you have Covid-19 or if you receive a Covid vaccination, and stay off of cinnamon until all signs of inflammation have subsided.
Suggested Cinnamon Dosage Range:
.5 – 3 g of cinnamon daily, added to food or drink. One gram of cinnamon is approximately one half level teaspoon. I strongly recommend getting a sensitive scale for accurate dosing. If you decide to go with the higher-end dosage, I suggest it be divided into two or three portions over the course of the day.
Avoid High Temperatures:
I find that the best way to consume cinnamon is to add it to something I am eating or drinking. It is best to do so just before consuming. High temperatures can cause chemical changes in cinnamaldehyde, the active ingredient:
" trans-Cinnamaldehyde, the principal component of cinnamon flavor, is a potent antimicrobial compound present in essential oils such as cinnamon.... starting at ∼60 °C, pure cinnamaldehyde undergoes a temperature-dependent transformation to benzaldehyde under the influence of heat"
Cinnamaldehyde, the active ingredient in this treatment, is a volatile compound - the reason for the lovely aroma of cinnamon. Heating tends to evaporate it, which smells great, but will reduce the amount that gets into your body.
You can self administer the UPDRS (Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale) to track your progress. This will not be as objective as having an observer administer the test, but for tracking any changes it will suffice. If you choose to do this, I suggest omitting the back pull test, even if you do have a partner available for this, because there is the danger of falling and injury. The UPDRS can be accessed here:
I hope this helps!
What brand of cinnamon to use? I have no particular insight as to any brand being better than another. Here are couple brands I have used that seemed to be satisfactory: