Are Honey and Cinnamon a Cure All?

12 05 2013

Bees are attracted to all types of flowers

I was asked by a co-worker if honey and cinnamon is a cure all for every ailment known to man.  I certainly didn’t know the answer to this question, so I did a little research on topic.

It appears there are a lot of nutritional and research information at our finger tips that supports honey and cinnamon as very good for us.  I’m not sure that when combined they are a cure all for all that ails us.  But the health benefit data is pretty impressive, especially when combining honey and cinnamon in the daily diet.

What most of us do know is that honey comes from a bee’s nectar and is known as a healthy food sweetener.  And Cinnamon is a spice harvested from a dried plant tree bark grown in a tropical climate.  Now we can build our knowledge base from here to see how this delicious tasting sweetener and spice can be so healthy for us.

Cinnamon History and Facts,

“Although cinnamon is grown within many countries such as Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Maurtius, Reunion and Guyana, it is also grown in South American, West Indies and other tropical climates.  The best and “one true cinnamon” are native to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and are known to date back to Chinese writings in 2800 B.C.”  (Filippone, 2013)

Ceylon and Cassia are the two most common cinnamon species that can be purchased within the marketplace and known to have the most potent healthy properties.   Both are great antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, etc.  However, it is the ancient Ceylon cinnamon that is considered by some to be denser in curing nutrients.  Many studies have identified Ceylon as the best diabetes preventative and combatant medicine, where other studies show cassia regulates blood glucose just as well.  Both cinnamon spices show blood thinning agent coumarin in them.  (Health Diaries.com, 2013)

Taking a closer look at the Cassia species, commonly known as Chinese cinnamon, or from Saigon Cinnamon is believed to cause liver damage when taken in high quantities because of its high concentration of anticoagulant properties, but considered safe when taken in moderation.  However, the blood thinning agent found in Ceylon’s true cinnamon is considered of little to no risk due to low density of naturally occurring coumarin.  Note:  During times of injury, it is necessary for our blood to maintain its ability to coagulate.  But taking excessive intake of plant coumarin content can pose a health risk.  (WHfoods.com, 2013)

The 10 most common cinnamon health benefits,

  •  Blood sugar regulation – Several studies show cinnamon to be beneficial for type 2 diabetics, and is likely due to regulatory effect on blood sugar.
  • Lowers blood cholesterol – Half a tsp of cinnamon per day can lower the bad cholesterol (LDL).
  • Cancer prevention – The U.S. Depart of Agriculture in Maryland showed cinnamon reduced lymphoma and leukemia cancer cell proliferation.
  • Anti-clotting – Cinnamon has an anti-clotting (blood thinning) affect on blood.
  • Helps with yeast infection – Studies show cinnamon to have the ability to stop medication resistant yeast infections.
  • Anti-bacterial – If added to food it stops food spoilage and bacterial growth.  It is nature’s natural food preservative.
  • Brain health – A study showed cinnamon to boost cognitive brain function and memory.
  • Arthritis relief – Taking a half a tsp of cinnamon powder and combined with a tsp of honey before breakfast daily; a Copenhagen University study showed significant relief of arthritis pain after a week.  And in one month patients participating in the study could walk without pain.
  • High in nutrients – Calcium, iron, fiber and manganese.
  • E. Coli fighter – A Kansas State researcher found cinnamon to fight E. Coli bacteria found in unpasteurized juices. (Health Diaries.com, 2006)

Chinese medicine practitioners say that if Cinnamon is organic, it is warming and nourishing for our kidneys.  Both Chinese and folk medicine practitioners have used honey and cinnamon in combinations for years to cure, or heal what ails them.  Both offer powerful “antibiotic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory remedies, not only for humans but also for Animals.”  Common conditions this organic sweetener and spice provide when used are claimed to remedy and/or cure:  Upset Stomach, immune system, colds, cholesterol, bladder infection, indigestion, longevity, gas, toothache, influenza, skin infections, weight loss, cancer, fatigue, bad breath, general infection, etc.  (Halcyon, February 27, 2013)

Honey History and Facts,

Honey has long been used as a nutritional and medicinal powerful antioxidant with antiseptic and antibacterial properties for the past 2,500 years which includes the days of Aristotle (384-322BC) and its use is well documented within Greek, Roman, Christian, Islamic and other historical text.  Today, honey is still considered part of an alternative medicine.  Holistic practitioners consider honey one of nature’s best all-around remedies.  In its raw form, honey contains about 69% glucose and fructose enabling it to be used as the sweetener we know and love to eat.

Raw honey like fine wines has its own aroma, taste and color depending on the location that it was farmed.   ‘This is a surprise to many people because most honey purchased in supermarkets in the United States is made from unidentified blends of honey with a similar taste and appearance between brands.  Unblended honey from various geographic locations tastes different when produced of nectar from flowers and then sweet excretions of insects (honeydew) is not mixed, or chemically treated.  Just like all flowers, grapes have different colors and aromas, and so does honey.

“Depending on the proportions of flowers in the area where bees collect nectar and the timing of the collection of honey from the hives, honey may be either:

  • Multifloral honey: Created from the nectar of many types of flowers around the hive, or
  • Single flower or monofloral honey: Created mainly from one type of flower or honeydew

Once you have tried unblended honey from a single flower source or location, you’ll likely not seek blended brands because you’ll enjoy the unique flavors that each one offers.  (Honey Traveler.com, 2013)

It is also interesting to note that honey is the only sweetener that will not spoil.  Instead, when it sits for periods of time, it will turn to a form of sugary base, but will not spoil.  It should never be micro waved or heated, because this destroys the enzymes and natural curing properties of it.  (New Realities.com, 2013)

There appears to be one health concern for a specific demographic,

The USDA National honey board and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services state “Do not let babies eat honey.”  This is because the spores of the botulism bacteria are found in dust and soil that find their way into the honeydew.  The immune systems of infants is not developed enough to defend against this type of potential “paralytic disorder’ in which an infant is given anti-toxins and placed in infant care on a respirator.  ‘Dr. Jatinder Bhatia a Georgia neonatologist who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition.  “She has never seen a case of infant botulism.   She also mentions, honey in cereals is fine because it’s a cooked product.  It’s the bottled honey that presents a health risk to infants.” (Edgar, 2013)

The 10 most common honey health benefits,

  • Helps with skin ailments – Honey dressings have been used to treat burns, scrapes, irritations from post surgical process and ulcers caused from radiation.  Bees produce the enzyme hydrogen peroxide, “sound familiar” which is found in honey and eases skin ailments.
  • Relief from mosquito bite – Since honey has anti-inflammatory properties it’s a good option to help reduce the itch and irritation.
  • Honey is an immune booster – Since honey is full of polyphenols found in plant life, it is a known antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage.  It is also promoted as a heart healthy nutrient and cancer preventer.
  • Digestive health –  A study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2006 found that honey used in place of sugar reduced gut microflora of male mice.
  • Acne treatment – Honey can effectively treat acne vulgaris, a skin condition caused by infection and inflammation on the face, chest and back.  (Shape.com, 2013)
  • Energy source – Honey can be easily converted into glucose energy for working muscles and accepted by the most sensitive stomachs.  It is very easy to digest.
  • Weight loss – When honey is consumed with warm water it helps to digest fat stored in the body.  Similarly, a combination of lemon juice, honey and cinnamon help reduce weight as well.

  “Normally, to digest sugar, the vitamins and minerals stored in body are utilized, rendering the body devoid of these nutrients. These nutrients are essential to dissolve fats and cholesterol.  Thus when you eat too much sugar you tend to increase weight not just because of the calories but due to lack of vitamins and minerals. On the contrary, honey being a good source of nutrients helps you in reducing weight.”  (Organic Facts.net, 2013) 

Improving athletic performance – Honey maintains blood glucose levels and muscle glycogen restoration after the workout.  Blood glucose and muscle glycogen is the preferred fuel food when intense exercise activity is required.

A valued source of Vitamins and Minerals – Depending on the flowers used in apiculture (beekeeping), honey commonly contains Vitamin C, Calcium and iron.  Concentrates of vitamins and mineral contents vary.

Antibacterial and antifungal – It can be used as a natural spread on antiseptic.  (Organic Facts.net, 2013)

Folk remedies have been around for generations and there is a reason why they stand the test of time.  For instance, to knock out a common cold in one or two days make a warm tea, add 1 teaspoon of honey and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon.  It is best to buy the powdered or grind the cinnamon sticks from the plant species previously mentioned.  There are many remedies that include honey and cinnamon to cure what ails you.  If you want to know more recipes, simply research on folk remedy medicines that include this natural sweetener and spice.

 My favorite breakfast is a big bowl of raisin brand, or oat flakes, 2 tsp of honey, 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon and 1% low fat milk.

For daily antioxidant, immune, weight loss, common cold, organ health and so much more, science supports adding raw honey and cinnamon to Cereals and hot drinks a couple times a day to promote good health.  There are lots of ways you can incorporate these two food nutrients into your diet if you’d like to take advantage of their healthy properties.

Works Cited

“10 Health Benefits of Cinnamon.” 10 Health Benefits of Cinnamon. Health Diaries.com, 23 Mar. 2006. Web. 10 May 2013.

“5 Health Benefits of Honey.” Shape Magazine. Shape.com, n.d. Web. 10 May 2013.

“Benefits of Honey in Weight Loss | Animal Product | Health Benefits.” Benefits of Honey in Weight Loss | Animal Product | Health Benefits. Organic Facts.net, n.d. Web. 10 May 2013.

“Ceylon Cinnamon Vs. Cassia Cinnamon.” Ceylon Cinnamon Vs. Cassia Cinnamon. Health Diaries.com, n.d. Web. 10 May 2013.

Feature, Julie EdgarWebMD. “Medicinal Uses of Honey: What the Research Shows.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 10 May 2013.

Filippone, Peggy T. “Cinnamon History.” About.com Home Cooking. About.com Guide, n.d. Web. 10 May 2013.

“Halcyon Days.” : Cinnamon and Honey: Cure-All or Hoax? Sandra Halcyonday, 27 Feb. 2013. Web. 10 May 2013. <http://sanda-halcyondays.blogspot.com/2013/01/cinnamon-and-honey-cure-all-or-hoax.html&gt;.

“The Healing Benefits of Cinnamon and Honey.” New Realities. New Realities.com, n.d. Web. 10 May 2013.

“Health Benefits of Honey | Organic Honey | Organic Animal Products.” Health Benefits of Honey | Organic Honey | Organic Animal Products. Organic Information Services, Pvt, Ltd., n.d. Web. 10 May 2013.

“Honey Buyers Guide.” Honey Traveler Everything in the World About Honey. Honey Traveler.com, n.d. Web. 10 May 2013.

“What Is the Difference Between Cinnamon and Cassia?” The Worlds Healthiest Foods. WHfoods.com, n.d. Web. 10 May 2013.

Woodard, Marc T. “Mirror Athlete’s Fitness Secrets!” Mirror Athletes Fitness Secrets. Mirror Athlete Inc., 7 Apr. 2013. Web. 10 May 2013. <http://mirrorathlete.com/blog/2013/04/07/foods-and-drugs-that-dont-mix-well/&gt;.

Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, CPT, MSC ARNG Retired.  2013 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.





Was the Viking Culture Healthy?

23 09 2010

A Landscape Once Ruled by the Unruly

     In order to determine whether the Viking culture was a healthy culture, we first must know a little bit about the people.  Most of us understand the Vikings were a proud and strong Nordic tribe’s people that came from familiar and distant lands now known as present day Denmark, Sweden and Norway.  And most of you are familiar with Leif Eriksson the son of Eric the red, the first Viking to step foot in Newfoundland, Canada.  Also these Nordic Vikings terrorized and conquered peoples of Europe and the British Isles from the 8th to 10th centuries.  

     Let’s now take a closer look at the day-to-day lifestyle of these raiding Scandinavian’s, or better known to those they terrorized as Northern Barbarians.  Although they settled and assimilated well into the cultures they conquered such as Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland, you also may know they had a well structured and elaborate societal hierarchy system.  This system was composed of a 3-level societal classification order.  Starting at the lowest level on the food chain was the slave.  Of course these poor lots were taken from lands conquered and used for labor intensive needs.  The next level up in the Viking class was the Freemen.  This class of people would be equivalent of our current middle class citizens.   Their skills classifications included craftsmen, farmers, traders, hunters and warriors.  At the top of this societal hierarchy were the Nobles akin to our high society figureheads and socialites.  They were the chieftains and kings in charge of lands and people.  And in order to become a king an aggressive chieftain would conquer other areas of neighboring and distant lands.  Of course the weaker of the two warrior kingdoms would suffer immensely and those that were not killed were made slaves.  “To the victor go the spoils.”  

     During the times Viking tribes were at “relative” peace they made a comfortable living for their families with eating habits that were surprisingly healthy.  They tended to sheep, pigs and cattle which were the main protein diet staples.  They also grew vegetables and grain, making bread from barley.  Other Essential vitamins and minerals were also obtained through gathering the seasonal wild strawberries, raspberries and hazelnuts, etc.  Since these tribal colonies mostly settled on main coastal river ways, fish was plentiful as a major protein source to all of the tribes people.  The children obtained plenty of nutrition from milk and buttermilk produced by livestock.  Of course, what would the Viking culture be without wine, or honey mead?  Most likely a very sober society void of the highly intoxicated and often dangerous spirited fighting activities while in garrison.  

     As excellent hunters they supplemented their meat source when the stable livestock began to dwindle by taking wild boar and deer native to the lands.  And as they were excellent hunters they were also effective fur traders that could barter and supplement other necessities to diet and personal comforts.  And of course, if they could not sustain their nutritional and comfort needs… Well, since they were an evolving culture as well as a warrior class of people, they fought and concurred for what they needed, wanted and desired.   

     Just like any culture that flourishes so do population and demand for limited resources.  At some point supplies would become strained as population grew, so did competition for scarce resources.  When this happened just like in today’s society people complain about the services and products as they become too expensive and/or limited.  When this occurred unhealthy living conditions would typically follow.  Often the lower class of people became susceptible to illness and disease first.  And when limited resources impacted various middle-class Viking families than action had to be taken to correct the situation.  

     When the complaints overwhelmed a tribal chieftain or king, often the solution to needed shortfalls was handled through warring activities by taking from others.  These decisions to battle for what was needed did not discourage the Viking people.  The Vikings craved an honorable death that could only be achieved through battle.  To die in battle was the greatest honor one could receive with a Viking funeral to follow.  So to die most honorably met warriors would take forcibly from others using sword, shield, and spear and of course the dreaded battle axe.  Vikings also carried a stealthy and deadly little scramasax (dagger) designed out of iron and decorated with gems and silver made for hand-to-hand combat.   

     So who do you think made the biggest stink about pushing the tribal leader and king to get up and do something about needed shortfalls?  Why the farmers of course.  Yes, the farmers also dubbed as warriors and sought opportunity (more land, treasure and slaves) off the Northern Europe territories.  Slaves were needed to continue providing labor to farm the fields and provide other essential sanitation services.  Treasure was desired by the top hierarchy to buy and secure more territories, barter other products and services and build bigger warrior Viking forces to secure what was taken.  

     Not only could they provide the provisions needed to travel great distances overseas, they had the skilled craftsmen to build the feared Scandinavian flat bottomed longboats.  These boats where long feared by distant village people because of their maneuverable abilities to run deep upriver.  Each long boat could carry a sizeable show of force, approximately 40-50 warriors.  Distant coastal and protected waterway tribal inlets were no match against Viking attack on these villages.  As many as 8-12 warrior ships traveled together terrorizing and taking whatever they wanted.  

     Now we get back to the question, was the Viking culture a healthy Culture?  From a nutritional aspect the Vikings were well fed with highly nutritional sustenance.    As a matter of fact all of the fruits and vegetables of the times were of higher quality of what we now call “super foods” and equivalent man-made supplements.  Since the lands were highly fertile everything consumed had a high nutritional value with little comparison to the dietary foods absorbed today.  Our foods nutritional values are in the toilet compared to the times when the Viking people farmed and consumed their own foods.  And the hunted game during the Viking days were of the highest quality that could beat our finest organic meat, poultry, pork and fish products for lack of industrial pollutants on land and sea. Our commercialized farming practices are now dependent on chemicals to fertilize-spray our fields and grow our livestock.   

     All Vikings especially warriors and farmers got at least 3 times the daily exercise of some of our best trained athletes.  Although many Vikings road horses, for the most part, walking, farming, festivities and warrior activities kept all in excellent physical shape.  These tribal villages were constantly buzzing with activity.  

     The Vikings biggest downfall in my opinion was their inability to separate the spiritual warrior beliefs from the civilized and growing world around them.  Vikings had many rituals to gods and goddesses that interlocked their beliefs honoring and glorifying a warrior’s death by ceremony.  And because of these hard set ritual and warrior practices, Viking culture ceased to exist.  Other civilized Kingships grew tired of these ransacking raids… So grew the opposing forces to remove these barbaric heathens.  A culture of people that slaughtered and terrorized thousands unmercifully for centuries seized to exist as a Viking culture after 200 years of rule.  The remainder of the common Viking tribe’s people assimilated into the lands of which a barbaric people once ruled supreme.  

     So the answer appears quite clear.  The “civilized” living conditions within the tribal village’s relative of the times were quite healthy.  In many respects healthier from a nutritional and daily exercise regiment than most of our current civilized cultures.  However, since the Vikings warring activities also included over consumption of what would otherwise be described as healthy beverages consumed in moderation (wine), over intoxication lead to many dangerous confrontations and accidents within daily activity, tribal festivity games and conflict in negotiation skills that got tribes people killed and “no doubt” battle lines drawn.  

     The Vikings as a barbarian class of people was doomed for lack of assimilation in a growing and civilizing world.  And for these reasons the Vikings although a physically strong, healthy and proud people… Overall became an unhealthy culture because of the dangerous barbaric warring practices that lead to its cultural extinction once feared by all it terrorized. 

Special thanks to the referred site for specific facts in writing this article: http://health.learninginfo.org/vikings.htm 

 Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2010 Copyright, All rights reserved.  Mirror Athlete Enterprises Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your free eNewsletter.