TEL AVIV, Israel, June 27 (UPI) -- An extract found in cinnamon bark, called CEppt, may be key to Alzheimer's disease prevention, researchers at Tel Aviv University suggest.
Michael Ovadia says he was inspired to investigate the healing properties of cinnamon by a passage in the Bible. High priests used the spice in a holy ointment, presumably meant to protect them from infectious diseases and after discovering cinnamon extract had anti-viral properties.
Ovadia, Aviad Levin and colleagues isolated CEppt by grinding cinnamon and extracting the substance into an aqueous buffer solution. They fed the solution to genetically engineered mice and fruit flies.
The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, found that after four months, the researchers determined the development of Alzheimer's disease slowed remarkably and the animals' activity levels and longevity were comparable to that of their healthy counterparts.
However, Ovadia advises not to rush to the kitchen cabinet for cinnamon, because it would take far more than a toxic level of the spice -- more than 10 grams of raw cinnamon a day -- to reap the therapeutic benefits.
"The medical catch-22 would be to extract the active substance from cinnamon, separating it from the toxic elements," Ovadia says. "The discovery is extremely exciting. While there are companies developing synthetic Alzheimer's disease inhibiting substances, our extract would not be a drug with side effects, but a safe, natural substance that human beings have been consuming for millennia."