Can Cinnamon and Honey Cure the Common Cold?

One of the home remedies touted for colds is mixing honey and cinnamon and taking it for three days to cure a cold, chronic cough, or sinus congestion. This may have been used for hundreds of years as a cold and flu remedy, but there isn't any scientific evidence that this combination has such benefit. However, some studies do show that honey may help with a cough.

Why It Doesn't Work

There is no cure for the common cold. It is a viral illness caused by hundreds of different viruses. There is no vaccine to prevent a cold or medication to cure one, and honey and cinnamon do not have any properties that would allow them to kill viruses.

Colds typically last between seven and 10 days and go away on their own. Some home remedies and over-the-counter medications may help relieve symptoms while you wait.

Benefits of Honey

Although honey won't cure a cold, it may relieve certain common cold symptoms. Research has shown that honey might be used to relieve coughs. It may also be a soothing addition to warm drinks for a sore throat.

When studying children with cold symptoms, researchers found that taking honey was as effective at relieving coughs in children and was rated more favorably among their parents than cough medication was. However, note that research on honey for coughs often had a study duration of only one night, and some studies showed that honey had no effect greater than doing nothing, taking a placebo, or taking a common anti-cough medication (dextromethorphan). Honey might reduce the duration of cough better than a placebo or salbutamol.

Drinking warm herbal tea or water with honey mixed in may soothe a sore throat. In addition to drinking plenty of fluids (and avoiding alcohol and caffeine), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests drinking warm beverages and using honey to relieve a cough in adults and children of at least 1 year of age.

Do Not Give Honey to Infants

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

Before You Take Cinnamon

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

A Word From Verywell

You may hear of many other natural remedies for cold relief. It's worth reading up on the science behind them before trying any if not learn about whether or not they are truly effective, but to be aware of any potential interactions, contraindications, and so on. If you are consider over-the-counter cold medications, carefully read labels before taking them to ensure they are appropriate for you.

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Article Sources
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  1. Oduwole O, Udoh EE, Oyo-Ita A, Meremikwu MM. Honey for acute cough in childrenCochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;4(4):CD007094. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007094.pub5

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Common cold. Updated February 6, 2020.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sore throat. Updated August 30, 2019

  4. American Academy of Pediatrics. Botulism. Updated November 19, 2018.

  5. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine. Cinnamon. Updated November 12, 2019.