Scientists claim cinnamon could actually make us smarter by improving our understanding. A study has found slow learners who consumed the household spice could process new information quicker by affecting proteins in the brain.
Little is known about why some people don't understand concepts as quick as other people, or how the brain's ability can be improved. But experts believe understanding lies in the hippocampus - a small part of the brain which generates, organizes and stores memory.
Slow learners tend to have less CREB - a protein involved in memory and learning - in their hippocampus than good learners. They also have more GABRA5 - a protein which prevents new information from going into the brain.
But a new study by the Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, conducted on mice, found cinnamon balanced out the protein levels to those found in good learners.
Mice in the study were fed ground cinnamon, which their bodies converted into sodium benzoate - a chemical used in drugs to treat brain damage. When the sodium benzoate entered their brans, it increased the amount of CREB and decreased GABRA5. These changes in turn led to improved memory and learning among the mice.
Professor Kalipada Pahan, lead researcher of the study, said: 'This would be one of the safest and the easiest approaches to convert poor learners to good learners.
'Understanding brain mechanisms that lead to poor learning is important to developing effective strategies to improve memory and learning ability.'
Researchers used a Barnes maze - a standard elevated circular maze consisting of 20 holes - to identify mice with good and bad learning abilities.
After two days of training, the mice were examined for their ability to find the target hole. They were then tested after one month of eating cinnamon.
The researchers found after consuming the spice, the mice deemed as poor learners had improved their memory and learning to a level found similar to those with good learning abilities.
However, they did not find any significant improvement among good learners.
Professor Pahan added: 'We have successfully used cinnamon to reverse biochemical, cellular and anatomical changes that occur in the brains of mice with poor learning.
'Individual difference in learning and educational performance is a global issue.
'We need to further test this approach in poor learners. If these results are replicated in poor learning students, it would be a remarkable advance.'