A passage from the Torah describing the preparation of an oil used in the Jewish Temple inspired the scientific development of a unique cinnamon extract that quells viral infections from the Avian flu to herpes and HIV. Professor Michael Ovadia from Tel Aviv University 's Department of Zoology told Israel21c that the passage explains how the High Priests (Kohanim) prepared a holy oil used on their bodies before they made a ritual animal sacrifice. While reading the passage in the synagogue one day, Ovadia had a "eureka!" moment. "I had a hunch," he said, "that this oil, which was prepared with cinnamon and other spices, played a role in preventing the spread of infectious agents to people."
Ovadia took his hunch to the lab and prepared a cinnamon extract that has proven effective against a wide range of viruses. A research and license deal on the extract was signed last week between TAU's technology transfer company Ramot and Frutarom, a multinational nutraceutical company based in Israel. Frutarom is expected to use the extract in a variety of ways, from disinfecting the air against Avian flu in airports; to a daily supplement to protect people from the common flu.
"What we know is that this technology is capable of neutralizing viruses very fast and that it is applicable to various applications," said Dr. Nissim Chen, Ramot's business development manager. "For example, it can be used in air conditioning systems in hospitals and prevent infections spreading from one person to the other in closed spaces."