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New study may spice up multiple sclerosis treatment

Cinnamon is an add-on item when it comes to food — not the main ingredient. But the common spice has the spotlight all to itself in research being conducted at Rush University Medical Center on a possible new treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system.

Kalipada Pahan, PhD, neurological scientist at Rush, has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to evaluate whether cinnamon may be effective against MS. Symptoms of this condition include numbness in the limbs, paralysis and loss of vision.

"Cinnamon has an anti-inflammatory property to counteract and inhibit the process that causes brain cell death," says Pahan, the principal investigator of the study, which is still in the preclinical phase.

Current medications to treat symptoms of MS are expensive, have many side effects and are only 30 to 40 percent effective, according to Pahan. Cinnamon, however, is safe and less expensive than drugs currently approved for MS.

"If our study is successful, there may be a day when just a bit of ground cinnamon per day with milk, tea or honey may help MS patients manage the disease and significantly cut their medication costs," Pahan says. 

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