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Honey has been long used by many cultures since ancient times as medicine both orally and topically. Obtained from bees through the conversion of flower nectar into simpler sugars, honey ranges vastly in color depending on the flower.
Honey’s benefits are courtesy of its wide-ranging flavonoid and polyphenolic content. Both compounds act as antioxidants useful in the protection against various chronic illnesses. (1)
Cinnamon, on the other hand, is a spice that is obtained from the bark of the Cinnamomum tree. It is commonly used in its powdered form to add flavor to food and baked goods.
Used for various ailments, cinnamon has been studied for its role in diabetes management, protection against cardiovascular disease, and fighting infections. (2)
Recently, many people have begun consuming honey and cinnamon together. They are usually prepared as teas or cinnamon-infused honey or simply dissolved in warm water and taken first thing in the morning.
This article will discuss what these two common household ingredients can offer when it comes to your health.
Health Benefits of Honey and Cinnamon
When you take honey and cinnamon, you reap the following benefits:
1. Relieves the common cold
Reports of multiple trials amongst children suggested that a single dose of honey can have an effect on cough caused by the common cold virus. (3) However, honey must not be given to children over 12 months.
Although there is no evidence of the efficacy of cinnamon for treating or managing the common cold, some studies have reported the use of cinnamon lozenges for managing cold and cough symptoms. (4)
2. Reduces risks of heart diseases
Honey contains a variety of antioxidants including some amounts of vitamin C along with polyphenols and flavonoids. These compounds work by improving the ability of the blood vessels to relax, easing high blood pressure, preventing clot formation that can cause strokes and heart attacks, and preventing the formation of cholesterol. (1)
Cinnamaldehyde, the active compound in cinnamon, has anti-inflammatory properties that can be cardioprotective. It also helps in the relaxation of the muscles of blood vessels, which is beneficial in hypertension (high blood pressure). (2)
Since both honey and cinnamon have cardioprotective benefits, consuming them together may prove to be beneficial in the management and even prevention of several cardiac diseases.
However, more human and clinical trials are needed to prove the efficacy of natural remedies in the management of chronic illnesses.
3. Helps in diabetes management
Evidence points toward the benefits of using honey in the treatment of diabetes. Its antioxidant potential allows it to be used as an adjunct in treatment.
Some clinical trials have reported that alongside diabetes medication, antioxidants such as vitamin C (present in honey) significantly reduced HbA1c levels (the measure of glucose attached to hemoglobin) and prevented organ damage that results from diabetes. (5)
Cinnamon has been vastly studied for its role in diabetes and improving insulin sensitivity of human cells. In an analysis combining the results of multiple studies, consumption of cinnamon for 4–18 weeks by people with type 2 diabetes resulted in a reduction in fasting blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. (6)
While diabetes medication is crucial in the management and prevention of complications of diabetes, dietary management as an adjunct increases the efficacy of the medication itself. The data on the antioxidant activity of both honey and cinnamon are strong.
Even though more trials and studies are needed to study the role of honey and cinnamon together in diabetes management, consuming them together can prove to be an easy and effective adjunct to the treatment since antioxidants are largely involved in the management of diabetes.
4. Provides antimicrobial effects
Honey has been used in many cultures topically to treat wounds and some skin diseases.
Some reviews have even proclaimed honey to have a slightly superior effect in treating acute wounds and burns. This is largely attributed to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.
The hydrogen peroxide and high amounts of sugar in honey are suggested to hinder bacterial growth, making it a useful agent for certain wounds. (7)
Among its many roles, cinnamaldehyde also shows some antimicrobial functions. It has been used to prolong the shelf life of food due to its inhibiting effect on some bacteria.
A study to evaluate the role of cinnamon essential oil against multidrug-resistant bacteria showed that cinnamon along with antibacterial drugs was effective against them. (8)
The honey and cinnamon combination has been much highlighted for its use against acne. A study investigating the role of honey and cinnamon against the different bacteria that cause acne showed the ingredients’ potential in reducing the bacteria on the skin. (9)
It can be concluded that honey and cinnamon can be useful in hastening the healing process of certain wounds and/or acne along with medications.
Remember, though, that it is important to consult a doctor before topical application of anything to open wounds, especially since the source of honey and cinnamon may not be sterile or free of harmful microbes.
5. Improves brain function
Honey has antidepressant and pain-blocking functions and prevents oxidative damage to the nerves. (1) The polyphenols found in honey help fight against the inflammation of nerves in parts of the brain that involve memory, prevent memory disorders, and stimulate the production of memories. (1)
Cinnamon reportedly improved memory in rat studies where the cinnamon decreased the time it took for the animals to finish a maze. Some amount of memory impairment was also restored in the treated animals. (10) These actions were attributed to cinnamon’s antioxidant activities, although human trials are needed.
Cinnamon also plays a role in limiting the changes caused by Alzheimer’s disease in the brain due to its ability to improve insulin resistance. (11)
Honey and cinnamon can be a safe and natural way to improve memory and brain function, especially in those people who have a family history of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Aids in digestive health
Honey has been used to ease digestive distress such as in the case of indigestion and diarrhea. (1) It has also been beneficial in the cure and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders including ulcers, inflammation of the stomach lining, and acidity. (12) These benefits of honey are attributed to its antioxidant content.
Some clinical studies in children and infants showed that the intake of honey resulted in a reduced duration of diarrheal episodes as it exhibits antibacterial properties. (12)
Evidence exists supporting the role of cinnamon as an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent in the protection against inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
In a study, where rats were treated with cinnamon oil, the inflammation was reduced along with an improvement in the diversity and richness of gut microorganisms. (13) Although more human trials are needed, there is some promise that cinnamon could be beneficial in inflammatory disorders of the gut.
Honey and cinnamon have different benefits that may help with improving digestive health. They exhibit different mechanisms that affect different conditions.
Even though more investigations are needed, a combination of honey and cinnamon can be useful in keeping the digestive system and gut microflora healthy.
7. Reduces allergy symptoms
Honey has been used in managing allergies. Studies have found that ingestion of honey in addition to medications improved the recovery of allergic rhinitis in patients. (14)
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, honey also reduces the inflammation of the lining of mucous membranes and relaxes blocked airways and nasal passages. (14)
Therefore, honey and cinnamon taken together can have potential use for relief from allergies.
8. Aids in weight loss
Results of a trial in Asian Indians consuming 3 g of cinnamon daily showed a decrease in body measurements including waist circumference, waist to hip ratio, and body mass index (BMI). The reduction in BMI could have been due to an overall weight reduction, although such results weren’t reported. (16)
In another study, consuming honey for a year significantly prevented weight gain in adult rats. The overall fat percentage was also reduced. (17)
Honey and cinnamon may individually exhibit some weight loss potential, but there is a lack of human trials and research involving the efficacy of honey and cinnamon together.
9. Improves arthritis
In a study done on 36 women suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, which involves inflammation of the joints, consumption of 4 capsules of 500 mg cinnamon powder reduced the clinical symptoms and inflammation associated with the disease. (18)
Honey has been studied for its anti-inflammatory potential in the management of osteoarthritis. It acts by shifting the pathways that cause osteoarthritis. Honey may relieve pain, slow down the progression of the disease, and improve joint flexibility. (19)
No clinical data exist to suggest honey’s and cinnamon’s efficacy for arthritis; however, their joint anti-inflammatory potential can be a useful remedy in managing arthritic symptoms.
10. Fights cancer
Several natural and folk remedies are studied for the role they may play in alleviating distress caused by cancer or its treatment or even in preventing the condition.
Honey has been shown to have some anticancer effects in some studies (1) due to its ability to stop the multiplication of cancer cells, manage oxidative stress and inflammation, and prevent the formation of blood vessels in cancer cells. It is also toxic to certain cancer cells. (20) However, more research into its use as an anticancer agent is warranted.
In one study, cinnamon reduced the colonization of H. pylori, the bacteria responsible for inflammation and cancer of the stomach. (2) Some evidence also indicated that cinnamon can cause cancer cell death by interfering with the mechanism that causes cancer cells to multiply. (21)
Although there isn’t much conclusive evidence to suggest the role of honey and cinnamon in preventing or treating some types of cancer, there is enough evidence to show its promising potential.
Due to their antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, both honey and cinnamon can be beneficial in the treatment of cancer in the future.
Precautions to Consider
There is limited research into the benefits of honey and cinnamon consumption when taken together, although they both exhibit some similar protective effects and mechanisms by which they function.
It is not ideal to completely rely on natural remedies for the treatment or management of chronic or acute illnesses due to many reasons:
- There is limited data available on how honey and cinnamon work.
- There is no certainty if the honey and cinnamon available are free of additives.
- Each human reacts differently to different remedies.
- There may be some unknown allergies that may cause more harm than good.
Remember that consulting a professional is of utmost importance when using natural remedies for chronic illnesses.
How can I take honey and cinnamon?
The most popular way of consuming cinnamon is by adding a teaspoon of cinnamon powder and a tablespoon of honey into a mug of warm water and sipping it like tea.
A teaspoon of cinnamon can also be mixed with a tablespoon of honey and consumed by itself.
How can I apply honey cinnamon to my skin?
A pinch or two of cinnamon for each teaspoon of honey can prove to be a beneficial face mask for acne and other wounds.
Like any product used on the skin, it is better to test out a honey and cinnamon mask on a patch of skin to check for allergies and tolerance. Also, please consult a doctor before using any remedies on open wounds or severe burns.
Nature is abundant in foods and ingredients that have great potential in managing several disorders or diseases of the human body. Diabetes, heart diseases, digestive disorders, weight gain, and cancer are some of the most troubling concerns in today’s day and age.
Like many other ingredients with antioxidant activities, honey and cinnamon show promise in the management of these conditions. It is also beneficial in the management of the common cold and allergy symptoms.
There is evidence presented in this article that suggests their use; however, it is also critical to note the lack of human and clinical trials that provide conclusive results. However, taking honey and cinnamon daily to improve health and general well-being is not a complete no.
Do remember that these ingredients shouldn’t in any way replace the prescribed medication and treatment for any illnesses.