How Cinnamon Boosts Brain Function: Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory Effects


Key Information

Cinnamon contains powerful compounds

Cinnamon has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects that support brain health.

Cinnamon enhances cognition and memory

Cinnamon improves brain signaling, neurotransmitter function, and learning abilities.

Cinnamon shields against neurodegeneration

Cinnamon reduces risk factors and hallmarks of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Cinnamon supports overall health

Cinnamon regulates blood sugar, boosts cardiovascular health, and has anti-cancer and immune-boosting properties.

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Cinnamon is one of the most delicious and versatile spices in the world. But did you know that cinnamon is also an incredibly healthy spice that offers major brain benefits?

Research shows that cinnamon provides powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that protect the brain and nervous system. From enhancing cognition to shielding against neurodegenerative disease, cinnamon deserves a spot in your spice cabinet and supplement routine.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the many ways how cinnamon boosts brain function based on the latest scientific findings.

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Key Brain Benefits of Cinnamon

Cinnamon contains several compounds that make it a brain-boosting superfood including:

  • Cinnamaldehyde: Gives cinnamon its signature flavor and aroma while offering antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies show cinnamaldehyde protects neurons from oxidative damage [1].
  • Eugenol: A potent antioxidant that fights free radical damage and inflammation in the brain [2]. Consider taking clove oil for an extra eugenol boost.
  • Proanthocyanidins: Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant molecules that support brain signaling [3].
  • Coumarin: Has neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing effects [4, 5].

Together, these compounds provide a multi-targeted approach at safeguarding the brain against oxidative stress, inflammation, poor neuron communication and more. The benefits of cinnamon for brain health go well beyond its antioxidant capacity as we’ll explore next.

1. Enhances Cognition, Memory & Information Processing

Research demonstrates cinnamon has powerful cognitive-enhancing abilities:

  • Reverses cognitive impairment in animal models of Alzheimer’s [6, 7]. Consider a brain boosting stack with choline like Alpha GPC.
  • Improves markers of memory, attention and information processing speed [8].
  • Enhances activation of key neurotransmitters including acetylcholine and GABA [9].

The cognitive benefits of cinnamon stem from its ability to reduce neuroinflammation, promote neuron health, and support production of key learning neurotransmitters like acetylcholine.

2. Shields Against Neurodegenerative Disease

Given cinnamon’s ability to combat multiple drivers of neurodegeneration – including oxidative damage, neuroinflammation and neuron death – it’s no surprise that cinnamon shows promise in slowing cognitive decline.

Studies demonstrate that cinnamon:

  • Lowers risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Consider neuroprotective nootropics like citicoline.
  • Reduces amyloid-beta plaques and tau tangles (hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease) [12]
  • Protects learning and memory centers (hippocampus) against damage [13]

3. Enhances Mood, Motivation & Focus

By supporting key mood and motivation neurotransmitters in the brain including dopamine and serotonin [14, 10], cinnamon is fantastic for:

  • Alleviating depression. Consider natural antidepressant alternatives like SAM-e.
  • Boosting drive and mental energy
  • Sharpening concentration for enhanced productivity

Cinnamon also reduces inflammation in the brain which researchers believe underlies poor motivation and mental fog in many cases.

Additional Brain & Health Benefits

While best known for brain optimization, cinnamon has widespread benefits throughout the body including:

Regulates Blood Sugar & Insulin Sensitivity

By improving insulin transport and blood glucose control, cinnamon helps provide the brain a steady supply of its #1 fuel – glucose.

Studies have shown that Ceylon cinnamon, in particular, balances blood sugar levels and increases insulin sensitivity [16].

Boosts Cardiovascular Health

From increasing nitric oxide production to reducing inflammatory factors, cinnamon improves circulation and supports overall heart health. Supporting healthy blood flow is vital to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the brain.

Cinnamon also demonstrates natural blood thinning abilities similar to aspirin [17].

Anti-Cancer Properties

While more research is still needed, early studies suggest cinnamon may offer protection against certain cancers – including brain, colon, prostate, cervical and lymphoma [18].

Antimicrobial & Immune Booster

With potent antimicrobial activities against common bugs like listeria and E.coli [19], cinnamon gives your immune defenses a leg up. This helps avoid cognitive-sapping infections.

How To Supplement With Cinnamon

With so many options from capsules to essential oils, let’s break down the best practices for adding cinnamon to your regimen.

Cinnamon Dosage Recommendations

Studies showing brain-boosting benefits use cinnamon doses ranging from 120mg per day up to 1-2 grams per day (1,000-2,000mg). Doses up to the 1-2 gram range may provide greater anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective effects.

Since compounds can vary significantly between Ceylon and Cassia varieties, follow dosage recommendations for the specific type of cinnamon supplement.

Cinnamon Safety & Side Effects

Cinnamon side effects are uncommon but higher doses may cause digestive upset in sensitive individuals. Those on blood thinners or diabetes medications should use cautiously and consult their doctor.

Cinnamon Supplement Types

There are many convenient cinnamon supplement options to suit different needs:

Cinnamon Bark Extract

  • Helps maintain blood sugar levels

  • Reduces the amount of insulin required by people with diabetes.

  • Lowers fasting blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

  • Aids in weight loss in people with diabetes

Lifestyle Strategies to Enhance Cinnamon’s Brain Benefits

Optimizing certain lifestyle factors will help you maximize cinnamon’s brain-boosting potential:

Target 6-8 Hours Of Quality Sleep Nightly

Essential for cognitive performance, mood regulation and waste removal, prioritizing restorative sleep enables cinnamon to work its magic. Support healthy sleep with routines like consistent bedtimes, limiting electronics before bed and supplements like melatonin.

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  • Beneficial for mental disorders, insomnia, neurodegenerative disorders, GI conditions

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  • May contribute to daytime drowsiness

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Reduce Brain-Harming Inflammation

Chronic inflammation damages brain cells and circuitry promoting Alzheimer’s disease and depression. An anti-inflammatory diet low in refined carbs and high in omega-3s keeps inflammation in check.

Challenge Your Mind & Grow Neuroconnections

From learning new skills to completing memory exercises, keeping the brain active increases neuron connections protecting against age-related cognitive decline. Nootropics boosting nerve growth factor like lion’s mane mushroom support cognitive health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is cinnamon safe to take daily?

Yes, doses up to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder are considered safe for daily intake. Those on blood thinners or diabetes medications should exercise caution.

What is the best cinnamon for brain health?

Ceylon cinnamon offers a safer profile and demonstrates significant cognitive benefits in research. Cassia cinnamon also shows benefits but has higher coumarin levels.

Can cinnamon interact with medications?

Cinnamon does not normally cause interactions but may have additive effects if taking blood thinners or diabetes medications already. Those on prescriptions should consult their doctor before using supplemental cinnamon.

I focused on highlighting Ceylon cinnamon given its safer profile at higher doses. But cassia cinnamon still offers benefits when used moderately. Let me know if you need any other suggestions!

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Erik Abramowitz is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP), Naturopathic Doctoral student, health coach, and father. He is the primary content creator for and the host of the Holistic Nootropics Podcast.

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