In what appears to be important news for victims of traumatic brain injury and stroke, the tropical spice cinnamon has been found to prevent brain cells from swelling.
The swelling is a condition in which fluid either accumulates within brain cells or is retained in blood vessels that form around brain cells.
Controlling this swelling of brain cells can help to lower impaired blood flow to the brain and reduce paralyze and save lives, said scientists at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service at the agency’s Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Md.
The researchers conducted cell-culture studies with a culture of glial cells which provide support and protection for neurons in the brain and spinal cord.
They exposed half the cells to a cinnamon extract, while other portion received none.
Ninety minutes later, the researchers measured volume of the glial cells and found that the oxygen- and glucose-deprived cells had increased by more than 34 percent.
But in the cells to which cinnamon polyphenol extract was added, this increased swelling was absent.
This research is important, especially with the large numbers of GIs in Iraq and Afghanistan who received traumatic brain injuries from roadside bombs and other explosions.
Kiran Panickar, the study’s lead author and neurobiologist worked on the research with ARS chemists Richard Anderson and Marilyn Polansky.
Much additional research must be done with animal studies the next possible step.
Cinnamon has a long history both as a spice and as a medicine. It’s know for its anti-microbial and anti-clotting benefits and also its ability to control blood sugar.
ARS is the principal scientific research agency of the USDA and supports the agency’s priority of improving nutrition and health.