Honey and Cinnamon: A Powerful Remedy or a Big Myth?
By Becky Bell, MS, RD on May 7, 2020 — Medically reviewed by Amy Richter, RD, Nutrition
How to use the combo
Honey and cinnamon are two natural ingredients with multiple health benefits.
Some people claim that when these two ingredients are combined, they can cure almost any disease.
While there’s evidence that each has some medicinal uses, several claims about the mixture of honey and cinnamon seem too good to be true.
This article reviews the benefits of honey and cinnamon, separating fact from fiction.
Natural ingredients for better health
Honey is a sweet liquid produced by bees. It has been used for centuries as both a food and medicine.
Today it’s most commonly used in cooking and baking, or as a sweetener in beverages.
Meanwhile, cinnamon is a spice that comes from the bark of the Cinnamomum tree.
People harvest and dry its bark, which curls into what are commonly known as cinnamon sticks. You can purchase cinnamon as whole sticks, ground into a powder, or as an extract.
Both honey and cinnamon have multiple health benefits on their own. However, some people assume that combining the two is even more beneficial.
In 1995 a Canadian tabloid published an article that provided a long list of ailments that could be cured by a mixture of honey and cinnamon.
Since then, bold claims about the combination of honey and cinnamon have multiplied.
While these two ingredients have plenty of health applications, not all of the claims about combining the two are backed by science.
Honey and cinnamon are ingredients that can be used as both foods and medicines. However, not all of the claims about honey and cinnamon are supported by research.
Benefits of cinnamon
Cinnamon is a popular spice in cooking and baking that can also be taken as a supplement.
There are two major types:
Cassia cinnamon. Also known as Chinese cinnamon, this variety is the most popular type in supermarkets. It’s less expensive, of lower quality than Ceylon cinnamon, and has some potential side effects.
Ceylon cinnamon. This type is known as “true cinnamon.” It is much harder to find than Cassia cinnamon and has a slightly sweeter flavor.
Cinnamon’s health benefits are linked to active compounds in its essential oil.
The most well-studied cinnamon compound is cinnamaldehyde, and it’s what gives cinnamon its spicy flavor and aroma (1).
Here are some of cinnamon’s most impressive benefits:
May reduce inflammation. Long-term inflammation increases the risk of chronic disease. Studies show cinnamon may help reduce inflammation (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
May help treat neurodegenerative diseases. A few test-tube studies suggest that cinnamon might help slow the progression of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. These results need to be confirmed in human studies (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
May help protect against cancer. A few animal and test-tube studies found that cinnamon helps prevent the growth and reproduction of cancer cells. However, these results need to be confirmed with human studies (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
Some have also suggested that cinnamon may be a natural treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and food poisoning.
However, there’s not sufficient evidence to support these claims.
Cinnamon is one of the healthiest spices in the world. Both types of cinnamon have health benefits, but Ceylon cinnamon is the better choice if you’re going to consume it regularly.
Benefits of honey
In addition to being a healthier alternative to table sugar, honey has several medicinal uses.
However, it’s important to note that not all types are equal.
Most of the benefits of honey are associated with active compounds that are most concentrated in high quality, unfiltered honey.
Here are some science-backed benefits of honey:
May be an effective cough suppressant. One study found that honey was more effective at suppressing nighttime coughs than dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in most cough syrups. Yet, more research is needed (10Trusted Source).
A powerful treatment for wounds and burns. A review of six studies found that applying honey to the skin is a powerful treatment for wounds (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
Honey is also thought to be a sleep aid, memory booster, natural aphrodisiac, treatment for yeast infections, and natural way to reduce plaque on your teeth, but these claims aren’t supported by science.
Honey has several health benefits connected to its antioxidant capacity and antibacterial properties.
Both honey and cinnamon may benefit certain health conditions
The theory is that if both honey and cinnamon can help on their own, combining the two must have an even stronger effect.
Studies have shown that the health benefits of honey and cinnamon are similar. For example, both are beneficial in the following areas:
May reduce the risk of heart disease
A mixture of honey and cinnamon has the potential to lower your risk of heart disease, as it may help reduce several of its risk factors.
These include elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
High blood pressure and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol are additional factors that can increase your risk of the disease.
Interestingly, honey and cinnamon may positively affect all of these.
Studies have shown that consuming honey lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol by 6–11% and lowers triglyceride levels by as much as 11%. Honey may also increase HDL (good) cholesterol by about 3% (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
One meta-analysis found that a daily dose of cinnamon lowered total cholesterol by an average of 16 mg/dL, LDL (bad) cholesterol by 9 mg/dL, and triglycerides by 30 mg/dL. There was also a slight increase in HDL (good) cholesterol levels (18Trusted Source).
While they have not been studied together, cinnamon and honey have individually been shown to cause modest decreases in blood pressure. However, this research was conducted in animals (2Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
Additionally, both foods are rich in antioxidants, which have multiple benefits for the heart. Polyphenol antioxidants improve blood flow to the heart and prevent blood clots, lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke (19Trusted Source).
Honey and cinnamon might also help prevent heart disease because they both reduce inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a major factor in the development of heart disease (2Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
May aid wound healing
Both honey and cinnamon have well-documented healing properties that could help treat skin infections when the mixture is applied topically.
Honey and cinnamon each have the ability to fight bacteria and decrease inflammation, which are two properties that are very important when it comes to healing the skin (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
When applied to the skin, honey has been used successfully to treat burns. It can also treat diabetes-related foot ulcers, a very serious complication of the condition (12Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).
Cinnamon may provide some additional benefits for healing wounds, thanks to its strong antibacterial properties.
Diabetes-related foot ulcers have a high risk of becoming infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. A test-tube study found that cinnamon oil helps protect against antibiotic-resistant bacteria (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
However, this study used cinnamon oil, which is much more concentrated than the powdered cinnamon you can find at the grocery store. There’s no evidence that powdered cinnamon would have the same effect.
May help manage diabetes
It’s well documented that consuming cinnamon regularly is good for those with diabetes. It may also help prevent diabetes (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
Numerous studies have shown that cinnamon decreases fasting blood sugar levels in people with the condition (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).
One of the ways in which cinnamon lowers blood sugar is by increasing insulin sensitivity. Cinnamon makes cells more sensitive to the hormone insulin and helps sugar move from the blood into the cells (30Trusted Source).
Honey also has some potential benefits for those with diabetes. Studies have shown that honey affects blood sugar levels less significantly than sugar (35Trusted Source).
Additionally, honey may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides in people with diabetes, while raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels (13Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Honey and cinnamon may be relatively healthier than table sugar for sweetening your tea. However, honey is still high in carbs, so people with diabetes should use it in moderation.
Packed with antioxidants
Both honey and cinnamon are excellent sources of antioxidants, which have multiple benefits for your health (36Trusted Source, 37, 38).
Antioxidants are substances that protect you from unstable molecules called free radicals, which can damage your cells.
Honey is rich in phenol antioxidants, which have been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease (39Trusted Source).
Cinnamon is also an antioxidant powerhouse. When compared with other spices, cinnamon ranks at the very top for antioxidant content (1, 40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source).
Consuming honey and cinnamon together can give you a powerful dose of antioxidants.
The combo of honey and cinnamon may offer some benefits, such as improving your heart health, treating wounds, and helping manage diabetes.
Unproven claims about honey and cinnamon
The concept of combining two powerful ingredients to create an even more powerful remedy makes sense.
However, no studies have demonstrated that the combination of honey and cinnamon creates a miracle substance that cures multiple ailments.
Additionally, many of the proposed uses for honey and cinnamon are not backed by science.
Here are some of the popular but unproven claims about honey and cinnamon:
Fights allergy symptoms. Some studies have been done on honey’s ability to reduce allergy symptoms, but the evidence is weak (42Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source).
Cures the common cold. Honey and cinnamon have strong antibacterial properties, but most colds are caused by viruses.
Treats acne. While the antibacterial properties of both ingredients can be beneficial for acne-prone skin, studies have not explored the mixture’s ability to treat acne.
Aids weight loss. A few studies suggest that replacing sugar with honey contributes to less weight gain, but there’s no evidence that honey and cinnamon will help you lose weight (44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source).
Relieves arthritis pain. Honey and cinnamon reduce inflammation, but there’s no proof that applying these foods to your skin can reduce inflammation in the joints.
Calms digestive issues. There are claims that honey can coat your stomach, and that both ingredients will fight bacterial infections in the gut. However, these claims aren’t backed by research.
Honey and cinnamon are both beneficial for your health, but there’s no evidence that combining them will multiply their effects.
How to use honey and cinnamon to improve your health
The best way to use honey in your diet is as a replacement for sugar.
Make sure you purchase unfiltered honey, as most of the highly processed honey on supermarket shelves doesn’t offer any health benefits.
Use honey with caution though, since it’s still high in sugar.
You should also be aware that cinnamon contains a compound called coumarin, which can be toxic in large doses. Coumarin content is much higher in Cassia cinnamon than in Ceylon cinnamon (46Trusted Source, 47Trusted Source).
It’s best to purchase Ceylon cinnamon, but if you consume the Cassia variety, limit your daily intake to 1/2 teaspoon (0.5–2 grams). You can safely consume up to 1 teaspoon (about 5 grams) of Ceylon cinnamon per day (46Trusted Source).
To use honey and cinnamon to treat a skin infection, mix honey with a small amount of cinnamon oil and apply it directly to the infected skin.
Honey and cinnamon can be eaten or applied to the skin. Purchase high quality unfiltered honey and Ceylon cinnamon to reap the greatest benefits.
The bottom line
Honey and cinnamon each have multiple health benefits, many of which are backed by science.
Both of these ingredients are especially useful for improving your heart health and healing infections.
However, no scientific evidence has shown that combining honey and cinnamon creates a miracle cure.
Last medically reviewed on May 7, 2020
Link to original article below.