Just think about the phrase “honey and cinnamon.” Is your mouth already watering? Are your taste buds already tingling?
It’s hard to think of two more delicious ingredients which can add so much to both savory and sweet dishes. (We’re not including chocolate; that’s in its own special category.)
Honey and cinnamon don’t just taste great. Each has been shown to have specific health benefits as well.
Many people believe, however, that there’s an even greater benefit when the two are consumed together. For example, in recent years the story has circulated that a mix of honey and cinnamon in your regular diet is a magical weight loss combination, even if you’re on a high calorie diet.
But this isn’t the first time that the combination has been praised for its alleged medical superpowers. 25 years ago, there were claims that the mixture of honey and cinnamon could prevent heart attacks and even cure cancer.
Is any of it true? Let’s find out.
Honey, Cinnamon and Weight Loss
We don’t want to make you wait forever for the most important bottom line. So we’ll do our best Maury Povich imitation:
The often-touted mix of ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder and one teaspoon of honey,
taken on an empty stomach, does NOT guarantee weight loss.
We’re sorry to have to break the news to you, but there’s no research showing that there’s anything magical about the combination.
At least one study has shown that the use of honey instead of sugar may help with weight control. (1) Honey may even activate some hormones in the body that make you less hungry. (2)
As for cinnamon, there’s some evidence that Chinese cassia cinnamon can help control glucose blood sugar levels in diabetics (3). Results are inconclusive for less-common Ceylon cinnamon (also known as true cinnamon).
As for the two of them working together? Sorry. We’ve got nothing.
The same holds true for other health claims (that started with an article in the tabloid Weekly World News back in 1995) that have been made over the years for a cinnamon and honey mixture.
The combination isn’t a mix that guarantees lower cholesterol levels and prevents heart disease or attacks. There’s no evidence it can cure advanced cancer of the stomach and bones, or that it will definitively prevent arthritis, as some so-called experts supposedly told the tabloid.
There’s not even convincing evidence supporting somewhat reasonable-sounding claims, such as:
- Drinking cinnamon and honey mixed into lukewarm water cleanses the bladder, helps cure bladder infections, and helps to prevent indigestion and stomach aches.
- A cinnamon-honey mixture fights the flu and colds and relieves allergy symptoms, because it strengthens the immune system.
- Honey and cinnamon will get rid of acne pimples and some types of skin infections.
- Cinnamon and honey, applied as a paste to infected gums, fights the infection and stops the bleeding and pain.
Sorry, all unproven.
However, that doesn’t mean that regularly including honey and cinnamon in your diet is a bad idea. To the contrary, each ingredient can provide major health benefits on its own. There are even some medical conditions that cinnamon and honey (particularly manuka honey) may each improve, and some are related to the health issues we’ve just mentioned.
Treating High Cholesterol and Hypertension
Let’s be clear. There’s no evidence that combining raw honey (the type of honey that retains its health benefits) and cinnamon provides any benefit to cardiac health. However, each of those two foods has properties – on its own – which may help improve heart health.
Studies have shown that certain types of honey are able to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, and increase HDL (good cholesterol), by significant amounts. (4) And a review of the research on cinnamon shows even greater improvements in LDL, triglycerides and overall cholesterol levels. (5)
The evidence isn’t as strong on the effects of these two foods on hypertension, but studies done on animals do indicate that both cinnamon and honey may each provide small improvements in blood pressure.
Treating Inflammation and Heart Disease
Foods with high antioxidant content are very good for your health. Antioxidants work to control the damage done by free radicals caused by oxidation, and left unchecked those free radicals can wreak havoc on multiple organs and systems in the body.
Among the illness and chronic diseases that antioxidants may help prevent or fight are inflammatory skin conditions like asthma, ringworm, psoriasis and dermatitis, heart disease, and even cancer. (6)
And as you may have guessed, honey and cinnamon are each loaded with antioxidants and fight inflammation. So while no one’s about to receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine for mixing the two ingredients together to treat any of those conditions, you can certainly benefit by including each of them in your diet.
Honey has long been used as a topical wound and burn treatment, because of its powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties (due in part to its ability to create hydrogen peroxide). Similarly, cinnamon is a strong antibacterial agent, although it’s better used in essential oil and not powdered form to treat wounds.
Other Health Benefits of Honey
Most parents already know this, as do readers with parents. In other words, everyone knows that honey is a potent weapon against coughs and upper respiratory infections. Some studies have even shown it to be better than cough medicine, whether used as a gargle or mixed and drunk with tea or water.
Reviews of research studies show that honey can help with digestive system issues, calming upset stomachs and easing the symptoms of diarrhea. (7)
And as mentioned earlier, honey is a far better sweetener than sugar, not only for diabetics but for anyone conscious of their overall health.
Other Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Preliminary studies have suggested that cinnamon has potential to slow the development of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. (8) There have also been lab studies indicating the possibility that one substance found in cinnamon may be effective in fighting some types of cancer, like colon cancer. (9) And some claim that cinnamon can play a role in treating illnesses and conditions as diverse as ADHD and PMS.
Try At Your Own Risk
There’s no shortage of honey and cinnamon-based “natural treatments” propounded by Ayurvedic medicine proponents, self-styled naturopaths and health evangelists – we’ve already debunked some of them earlier in this article. But since there are no side effects to worry about, here are a few of the recipes you might want to try if you’re desperate.
- To prevent hair loss: Apply a paste of hot olive oil, one teaspoon of cinnamon and one tablespoon of honey for 15 minutes each day.
- To prevent colds: Drink a glass of lukewarm honey water with a pinch of cinnamon every day during the winter.
- To ease arthritis pain: Put a paste of equal parts honey and cinnamon on the affected parts of the body and massage.
- To fight bladder infections: Drink two tablespoons of cinnamon and one tablespoon of honey mixed into lukewarm water.
- To fight old age: Drink honey tea sprinkled with cinnamon daily.
Had enough? Here’s one that will work: mix cinnamon and honey with lemon juice, baking soda and hot water, and swirl in your mouth. It’ll take care of bad breath.
Better yet, just stick with the inclusion of cinnamon and honey in your diet regularly. You’ll be healthier for doing it.