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Can Cinnamon and Honey Cure the Common Cold?

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Updated September 25, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: Can Cinnamon and Honey Cure the Common Cold?

Social media can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and share your thoughts and feelings with the world. It is wonderful for sharing information but not all of that information is necessarily trustworthy.

I have a seen a surprising number of posts shared by people that I know to be intelligent and well-educated that have messages that are quite unbelievable. The old adage "don't believe everything you read" is especially true when it comes to social media.

A recently shared post that I came across makes the claim that a combination of cinnamon and honey can cure - among other things - the common cold.

Included in a long list of the "benefits" of this remedy is the claim:

COLDS: Those suffering from common or severe colds should take one tablespoon lukewarm honey with 1/4 spoon cinnamon powder daily for three days. This process will cure most chronic cough, cold, and, clear the sinuses, and it's delicious too!

So, is there any truth to this miracle cure?

Answer:

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold. It is a viral illness caused by any number of hundreds of viruses and there is no vaccine to prevent it or medication to cure it. Colds typically only last between 3 and 10 days anyway, so a medication to cure it likely isn't on the horizon since the symptoms would go away on their own almost as soon as any medication would take effect.

As for cinnamon and honey, they may have been used for hundreds of years as cold and flu remedies, but there isn't any scientific evidence that they have any ability to cure a cold. They do not have antiviral properties that would allow them to kill a virus such as the common cold.

Benefits of Honey

Although honey won't cure a cold, it does have benefits and may relieve certain common cold symptoms.

Recent research has shown that honey can be used to relieve sore throats and coughs. When studying children with cold symptoms, researchers found that taking honey was actually more effective at relieving coughs in children and was rated more favorably among their parents than cough medication was.

Drinking warm tea or water with honey mixed in is an effective sore throat remedy as well.

Important Note: Honey should never be given to a child under 12 months old because it can cause botulism - a potentially fatal illness.

Cinnamon Ineffective

Although cinnamon is generally considered safe, there is no evidence that it is effective at preventing or curing any type of illness.

It should be used with caution as some people may be allergic to it and certain types (specifically Cassia cinnamon) have properties that may lead to blood thinning. Talk to your health care provider if you plan to take significant amounts or supplements of cinnamon or any other herbal or natural remedy. Even natural and herbal remedies have risks and can cause side effects.

The Bottom Line

As for the combination of cinnamon and honey curing the common cold, it just isn't true. There is no science that backs up this claim. At this point, you'll have to wait out the virus and try these other options to get relief from your symptoms:

Sources:

Paul IM, Beiler J, McMonagle A, Shaffer ML, Duda L, Berlin CM Jr. "Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents." Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007 Dec;161(12):1140-6. PubMed. US National Library of Medicine. 22 Sep 13

Cinnamon. Herbs at a Glance Apr 12. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. US Department of Health and Human Services. 22 Sep 13.

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