That warm, sweet spice that we all use on top of lattes, in cinnamon rolls and
other treats, is cinnamon. It wakes up your taste buds, but did you know it might also
improve your ability to learn? New research has found that to be the case.
A study was published in the journal Neuroimmune Pharmacology that found
certain mice, who were considered poor learners, improved in their learning ability after
consuming cinnamon. This approach would be one of the safest and easiest
approaches to convert poor learners to good learners.
Why some people are naturally good at learning and others struggle, has always
been a bit of a mystery. Kalipada Pahan, PhD., lead researcher of the study, comments
that by finding out why some brain mechanisms result in poor learning, strategies can
be developed to increase learning ability and improve memory.
Proteins in the hippocampus have been located by researchers. This is the part
of the brain that is involved in memory formation, memory organization and memory
storing, all which are present in poor learners. The poor learners have less of the
CREB protein that plays a role in memory and learning, and was present in the
It was also observed in the poor learning mice, that there was more of the alpha5
subunit of GABAA receptor or GABRA5 proteins that generate tonic inhibitory
conductance in the brain than in those mice that learned more effectively.
The cinnamon improved the mice’s learning and memory by altering the proteins
associated with poor learning. The mice metabolized the spice into sodium benzoate,
which can be used as a treatment for brain damage. It increased the CREB in the brain
and decreased GABRA5 while increasing the ability of the hippocampal neurons to
change, improving memory and learning. The mice were trained for 2 days in a maze
consisting of 20 holes to observe if they could learn to find their target hole. Pahan
indicated they have successfully used cinnamon to reverse biochemical, cellular and
anatomical charges that occur in the brains of mice with poor learning. After 1 month of
feeding the mice cinnamon, only those mice deemed poor learners had improved in
memory and learning.
Just think of the outcome if these results were replicated in poor learning
students. This would be a very remarkable advance. A previous relationship between
consuming cinnamon and the reversal of changes in the brains of mice with Parkinson’s
disease, was found by Pahan and co-workers. They also detected that not all types of
cinnamon are equal. Chinese and Ceylon are the two major types of cinnamon
available in the U.S. Ceylon cinnamon is purer and Chinese cinnamon contains a
molecule associated with liver damage.
Cinnamon has many other uses and advantages, but wouldn’t it be great if
something this simple could actually benefit those children who have difficulty with
learning. Further research in this area would be phenomenal!
– Dr Fredda Branyon