Ceylon Cinnamon Brain Benefits

Written by: Pard Bharaj



Time to read 7 min

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Author: Pard Bharaj

I am a dedicated researcher with nearly a decade of experience in investigating health best practices. 

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle, especially if you have existing health conditions.


In my previous health blog, I summarised Ceylon cinnamon's seven main health benefits. In this quick blog, I will delve a little deeper and discuss “Ceylon Cinnamon and brain benefits” and how it can help protect the brain from aging and help with new cell growth.

I will share various studies (references and further reading), briefly explain the mechanism behind its effects, and include some expert quotes.

How Does Ceylon Cinnamon Benefit the Brain?

Ceylon cinnamon, boasts significant benefits for brain health. This spice is rich in various bioactive compounds that in several scientific studies have been shown to support cognitive function and offer neuroprotective properties.

I should mention that while these effects are promising, most of the current evidence comes from laboratory and animal studies. More clinical research in humans is needed to confirm these potential benefits and to establish effective dosages and methods of administration for Ceylon cinnamon brain benefits.

Here is a quote from Molly Rapozo, MS, RDN, CD, Senior Lifestyle Coach, Pacific Neuroscience Institute , Only two clinical studies were part of this review, and one of the two did not show a positive effect. Most of the literature included were from rodent models. Therefore, more clinical studies are needed. Furthermore, there were many variations among the studies for duration, dosage, and cinnamon components used.” 

1. Antioxidant Protection for the Brain:

Ceylon cinnamon, also known as "true cinnamon," ranks as the 7th highest food in terms of antioxidant capacity according to the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale. This high ranking indicates its ability to neutralise free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells, including brain cells, and contribute to neurodegenerative diseases. Some of the main antioxidants include:

  • Cinnamaldehyde: Cinnamaldehyde can reduce brain inflammation and oxidative stress. This helps keep brain cells healthy, potentially improving cognitive functions and lowering the risk of diseases like Alzheimer's.
  • Eugenol: Eugenol, found mainly in cinnamon leaf oil, is a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It can boost the activity of the body's antioxidant enzymes, protecting brain cells from damage. This supports the growth of new neurons and overall brain health. Eugenol is particularly abundant in cinnamon leaf oil (80%-88%), which is similar to clove oil, while cinnamon bark oil contains much less eugenol (5%-18%).
  • Cinnamic Acid: Cinnamic acid reduces inflammation and oxidative stress by blocking certain proteins involved in the immune response. This protection helps keep brain cells healthy and improves cognitive functions by reducing harmful inflammation and stress in the brain.

2. May Improve Brain Connections and Growth of New Neurons

Ceylon cinnamon helps improve brain function by enhancing the connections between brain cells and promoting the growth of new neurons.

  • Cinnamaldehyde may make the connections between brain cells stronger and more efficient, which improves learning and memory. By enhancing synaptic plasticity, it aids in the formation of new neural connections, making the brain more adaptable and efficient.
  • Eugenol increases the levels of a protein called BDNF that supports the growth and health of new brain cells, helping with brain recovery and slowing cognitive decline. This neurogenesis process is vital for maintaining cognitive function as we age.
  • Sodium Benzoate (NaB), a compound derived from cinnamon, boosts the production of essential proteins like BDNF and NT-3 that may help brain cells grow and stay healthy. NaB enhances the brain's resilience and supports overall cognitive health by activating pathways that promote neuron growth and survival, protecting against diseases like Alzheimer’s.

3. Tau Protein Inhibition:

One of the notable mechanisms through which Ceylon cinnamon may exert its beneficial effects on brain health is by inhibiting the accumulation of tau proteins. Tau proteins are crucial for the normal functioning of brain cells, but their abnormal accumulation and formation into tangles are hallmark features of Alzheimer’s disease, which leads to cell death and cognitive decline.

  • Prevention of Tau Aggregation: Ceylon cinnamon contains compounds that may directly interfere with the processes that lead to tau protein aggregation. This can prevent the formation of neurofibrillary tangles, which are closely associated with the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Enhancement of Tau Clearance: Besides preventing aggregation, cinnamon can enhance mechanisms within the brain that clear tau proteins before they form harmful tangles. This helps maintain neuronal health and prevents the progression of cognitive decline.

Side Effects and Precautions: 

  • Drug Interactions: Cinnamon can interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners, diabetes medications, and heart medications, due to its blood sugar-lowering and blood-thinning properties.
  • Allergic Reactions: In Very rare cases some individuals may experience allergic reactions to cinnamon, which can include skin irritation, or more severe reactions if they have a cinnamon allergy.
  • Cassia Cinnamon Caution: Always opt for Ceylon cinnamon or true cinnamon as it has a much lower coumarin content, instead of Cassia cinnamon as it contains higher levels of coumarin, which can be harmful in large quantities and should be avoided, especially by those at risk of liver disease.

References and Further Reading:

1. Sodium Benzoate, a Metabolite of Cinnamon and a Food Additive, Improves Cognitive Functions in Mice after Controlled Cortical Impact Injury

Summary: Sodium benzoate, a metabolite of cinnamon, significantly improves cognitive functions and reduces neuroinflammation in mice after traumatic brain injury by decreasing glial activation and lesion volume and enhancing memory, learning, and motor coordination.

Authors: Suresh B. Rangasamy, Sumita Raha, Sridevi Dasarathy, Kalipada Pahan Publication: International Journal of Molecular Sciences Date: December 24, 2021

2. Cinnamon and Its Metabolite Sodium Benzoate Attenuate the Activation of p21rac and Protect Memory and Learning in an Animal Model of Alzheimer’s Disease

Cinnamon and its metabolite sodium benzoate (NaB) reduce oxidative stress and amyloid plaque burden, improve memory and learning, and protect neurons by inhibiting p21rac activation and reducing tau phosphorylation in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.

Authors: Khushbu K. Modi, Avik Roy, Saurabh Brahmachari, Suresh B. Rangasamy, Kalipada Pahan Publication: PLOS ONE Date: June 23, 2015

3. Up-regulation of neurotrophic factors by cinnamon and its metabolite sodium benzoate: Therapeutic implications for neurodegenerative disorders

Cinnamon, especially Ceylon cinnamon, and its metabolite sodium benzoate (NaB) upregulate neurotrophic factors like BDNF and NT-3 through the PKA-CREB pathway, promoting neuronal survival and function, which may have therapeutic implications for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Authors: Arundhati Jana, Khushbu K. Modi, Avik Roy, John A. Anderson, Richard B. van Breemen, Kali

4. Effects of cinnamic acid on memory deficits and brain oxidative stress in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice

The study investigates the effects of cinnamic acid on memory deficits and brain oxidative stress in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice. Mice treated with cinnamic acid showed significant improvement in memory and reductions in oxidative stress and cholinergic dysfunction. This suggests cinnamic acid may have therapeutic potential for cognitive impairment in diabetes.

Publication: Korean Journal of Physiology & Pharmacology Date: May 2018 (Epub April 25, 2018) Authors: Ali Asghar Hemmati, Soheila Alboghobeish, Akram Ahangarpour

5. Effects of Eugenol on Memory Performance, Neurogenesis, and Dendritic Complexity of Neurons in Mice

Eugenol, the main component in clove oil, improves memory performance, enhances neurogenesis, and increases dendritic complexity in the hippocampus of mice, showing potential as a therapeutic agent for neurodegenerative disorders.

Publication: Journal of Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Date: March 26, 2021 Authors: Latiful Akbar, Berry Juliandi, Arief Boediono, Irmanida Batubara, Mawar Subangkit

6. The neuroprotective mechanism of cinnamaldehyde against amyloid-β

Brain Health Information: The study investigates the neuroprotective effects of cinnamaldehyde, a major component of Ceylon cinnamon, against amyloid-beta (Aβ) induced toxicity in SH-SY5Y neuronal cells. It highlights the mechanisms involving N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), ryanodine, and adenosine receptors, along with the inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β), suggesting that these pathways contribute to its neuroprotective actions.

Authors: Masoumeh Emamghoreishi, Majid Reza Farrokhi, Atena Amiri , Mojtaba Keshavarz: Institution: Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran: Publication Date: May-June 2019: Journal: Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, Volume 9, Issue 3

7. Cinnamon Extract Improves Insulin Sensitivity in the Brain

Brain Health Information: The study explores cinnamon's neuroprotective effects, notably its ability to improve insulin sensitivity in the brain. This improved sensitivity contributes to enhanced brain activity and could potentially mitigate the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. Cinnamon extract also improved locomotion (the ability to move from one place to another) and cognitive function in mouse models, suggesting its broader benefits for brain health.

Authors: Tina Sartorius, Andreas Peter, Nadja Schulz, et al: Institution: University of Tuebingen, Germany; German Center for Diabetes Research; and other institutions: Publication Date: March 2014 in PLoS ONE

8. Health benefits of Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): a summary of the current evidence

Brain Health Information : Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) exhibits potential benefits for brain health by inhibiting tau aggregation and filament formation, which are key markers in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Its extracts encourage the disassembly of tau filaments and alter the morphology of paired helical filaments associated with Alzheimer's, suggesting potential protective effects against neurodegenerative diseases.

Authors : P. Ranasinghe and P. Galappaththy: Institution : University of Colombo, Sri Lanka: Published : March 2016 in the Ceylon Medical Journal

9. Cinnamon: Mystic powers of a minute ingredient

Brain Health Information: The study indicates that Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) may have beneficial effects on brain health by enhancing cognition. It potentially aids in improving memory and learning capabilities, which could be particularly beneficial in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. This is attributed to its antioxidant properties and its role in modulating brain insulin signalling.

Authors: Pallavi Kawatra, Rathai Rajagopalan: Institution: M.S Ramaiah Medical College, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India: Published: 2015 in Pharmacognosy Research

10. Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant 

Summary: The study discusses the neuroprotective effects of Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) which include its potential in managing neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. It outlines how cinnamon's compounds inhibit the buildup of tau protein and protect against ischemic brain damage, thereby supporting cognitive function and potentially slowing the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

Authors: Pasupuleti Visweswara Rao and Siew Hua Gan: Institution: Universiti Malaysia Kelantan and Universiti Sains Malaysia: Published: 2014 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

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