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Can Cinnamon and Honey Cure the Flu?

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Updated July 31, 2013

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

Question: Can Cinnamon and Honey Cure the Flu?

All sorts of unbelievable things are passed around every day on social media but I have noticed an increase in the number of "medical miracles" that people seem to accept without question just because a friend or acquaintance shares them.

One such claim I have seen has to do with the "healing powers" of cinnamon and honey. Among other incredible claims (cinnamon and honey will cure cancer, really?!), the post states:

INFLUENZA: A scientist in Spain has proved that honey contains a natural 'Ingredient' which kills the influenza germs and saves the patient from flu.

Could it be true?

Answer:

Don't believe everything you read. Apparently this piece of "medical advice" originated from a Canadian supermarket tabloid. We all know how reliable and factual those are...

While the use of honey does have some benefit when you have cold or flu symptoms, there is no scientific evidence that it or cinnamon actually cures the flu. It does not kill influenza or stop a person from developing the flu.

Benefits of Honey

While it isn't going to cure or prevent the flu, honey does have some useful benefits when you are sick. Drinking hot tea with honey has been shown to help soothe a sore throat and can even reduce irritating coughs.

In a study among children with upper respiratory infections, the parents of children that were given honey 30 minutes before bedtime reported significantly better sleep than those that were not treated and it was rated more favorably by parents than dextromethorphan (sold under multiple brand names including Delsym), a common over the counter cough suppressant given to children. The outcome of this study is encouraging because treating children with honey to relieve coughs is significantly safer than giving children cough medication which can cause side effects. However, honey should never be given to children under 1 year old because it can cause botulism - a potentially fatal illness.

Does Cinnamon Help?

Cinnamon has been used as medicine for centuries but there is no scientific evidence that it provides any benefit as a treatment for the flu or any other medical condition at this time. Although it is generally considered as safe, cinnamon should be used with caution in people with allergies and those with chronic medical conditions that may be taking other medications. Always check with your health care provider before taking any medications or supplements to be sure they will not react and cause serious side effects.

What You Can Do

While taking cinnamon and honey are not going to do anything to prevent or cure the flu, there are other things you can do.

When you come across medical information on the internet, social media or even through word of mouth, be skeptical. Do your research and see if the claims can be proven or backed up with actual research. Find out where it came from and if it's a reliable source. Just because your friend says or posts something, that doesn't make it true!

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. 16 Jul 13.

"Honey and Cinnamon Cure" Weekly World News 17 Jan 95. 16 Jul 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. 16 Jul 13.

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