Honey and cinnamon can improve heart disease, arthritis, cholesterol, GI issues, common cold, acne, skin infections and weight loss amongst many others
In a Facebook post, a bottle of golden-colored honey and red-brown cinnamon is held side-by-side. The accompanying text alludes to a treatment “drug companies won’t like … getting around.”
“It is found that a mix of honey and cinnamon cures most diseases,” David Wright posted to Facebook in 2014 in a post that has garnered attention on the platform since late May. In separate paragraphs dedicated to certain diseases and common ailments, he provides detailed dosages and methods for intake.
“Make a paste of honey and cinnamon powder, put it on toast instead of jelly and jam, and eat it regularly for breakfast,” Wright advises for heart disease. For arthritis, bladder infections, colds, GI and respiratory issues, longevity and even hearing loss, he recommends mixing varying proportions of the household spice and sweetener with boiling or lukewarm water to drink daily or until symptoms dissipate.
Wright also dispenses relevant scientific facts to add a layer of medical authenticity.
“A scientist in Spain has proved that honey contains a natural ‘Ingredient’ which kills the influenza germs and saves the patient from flu,” he writes. “Constant use of honey strengthens the white blood corpuscles (where DNA is contained) to fight bacterial and viral diseases.”
The post has received over a million shares and 70,000 comments, the latter of which have been overwhelmingly positive.
“Wow, I knew it helped with some things but I had no idea it helped so many things!” Belinda Lee Christian commented.
Some commenters, however, expressed skepticism.
“How the heck is hearing related to something you ingest??” Diane Plourde asked.
Wright did not respond to USA TODAY for comments and clarification.
The history and science behind honey and cinnamon
The use of honey has been well-documented since antiquity, dating as far back as the Stone Age. In the fourth century B.C., the Sumerians of Mesopotamia, a region once spanning most of modern-day Iraq and eastern Syria, documented the sweet, viscous syrup as both nutritional and medical, even using it as an ointment. Ancient texts penned by the fathers of early medicine like Aristotle and Hippocrates, as well as Arab and Ayurvedic doctors, also recognized honey’s medicinal benefits.
In the last 20 years or so, scientists have uncovered much about this food made by the humble bee.
“Bees collect the dilute-sugary nectar of flora plants, produce an enzymatic activity after ingestion, regurgitate it into honey cells and evaporate a high percentage of water out of it,” Dana Hunnes, a senior dietitian at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, explained to Time last year.
The end product — honey — consists of simple sugar molecules, mostly fructose and glucose, which can be easily used by the body for energy.
The rest of honey’s chemical composition is made up of enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc and potassium to name a few. And much of its prized pharmacological effect comes from antioxidants called polyphenols.
“These compounds are responsible for some of honey’s potential health benefits and part of what distinguishes the sweetener from more traditional ones like sugar,” Jenny Friedman, a Philadelphia-based registered dietitian, told Time last year.
Cinnamon, like honey, has also enjoyed a long history. Its first documented use was as a perfuming agent during the ancient Egyptian embalming process. During the Middle Ages, it became known as a useful meat preservative and a treatment for coughs, arthritis and sore throats.
The much-loved fragrant spice, obtained from the bark of Lauraceae family of trees found in Asia, Australia and South America, contains polyphenols and various other chemical compounds with reported anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, anticancer and lipid-lowering properties.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one teaspoon of ground cinnamon contains 26 mg of calcium, 0.2 mg of iron, less than 1 mg of magnesium and phosphorous each, about 11 mg of potassium and 0.4 micrograms of vitamin A.
Honey or cinnamon, but not both, may confer some health benefit
Many studies involving honey or cinnamon have not focused on their combined action. Thanks to its antimicrobial properties, honey has shown promise in wound care and fighting off catheter-associated UTIs. More rigorous studies are needed to conclude it’s helpfulness in alleviating eczema, ringworm or acne but it’s generally agreed salving on some of the natural sweetener doesn’t hurt.
Studies have found cinnamon could potentially lower fasting blood glucose and blood pressure in type 2 diabetics. Levels of LDL, total cholesterol and HDL may also improve but are subject to further study. Additionally, cinnamon may protect against stomach ulcers, Alzheimer’s disease, increase life span, prevent hepatitis C viral entry and improve arthritic pain. Most results are derived from animal models, in vitro studies or from small sample sizes and would require detailed investigation.
The claim of honey and cinnamon for oral hygiene, however, may be substantiated. One 2017 study found that honey and cinnamon appear to work together to fight against Streptococcus mutans, a bacterium known for its role in tooth decay.
There are no studies indicating honey and cinnamon effective in curing hearing loss, fatigue or increasing life span in human subjects. While honey and cinnamon may soothe symptoms of the common cold or the flu, they cannot kill “influenza ‘germs’” (influenza being a virus and not a bacteria) as the Facebook post claims.
Not all honey or cinnamon is created equally
There are hundreds of honey types worldwide, with over 300 variations in the United States alone. The benefits of one particular honey can differ from another depending on many factors including the nectar’s floral source, the environment and even the bee’s age. New Zealand manuka honey has been well-researched and recognized for its medicinal properties; Tualang honey found in Malaysia and buckwheat honey are also gaining attention. Buyers must beware of imported honey, which can be filtered with other sweeteners like corn syrup thereby reducing its health and nutritional value.
When it comes to cinnamon, it may come as a surprise to learn most supermarket cinnamon is not of the “true” cinnamon, or Ceylon variety, but cassia, Chinese cinnamon. While both have been used in studies looking at effects on blood glucose, eating too much of cassia cinnamon may be harmful in large doses.
As far as recommended daily dosages of either one, experts recommend consuming no more than a tablespoon of honey or one-quarter to about 1.25 teaspoons of cassia daily (there are no human studies available yet for optimal dosing with Ceylon cinnamon). Many of the doses prescribed in the Facebook post exceed the recommended limits.
Our ruling: Partly false
We rate the health claim of honey and cinnamon as a cure for most diseases PARTLY FALSE because some of it was not supported by our research. While it’s true honey and cinnamon individually may help improve and even protect against some diseases, there is a lack of studies looking at both honey and cinnamon together. There’s no scientific evidence backing improving hearing loss and the claim of weight loss may be inferred but has not been confirmed. The prescribed dosages mentioned exceed the recommended daily servings and could be potentially harmful.