Niki Bezzant: New cure-all! Yeah, right

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Honey and cinnamon is claimed to be the latest "magic mixture" for weight loss. Photo / Getty Images
Honey and cinnamon is claimed to be the latest "magic mixture" for weight loss. Photo / Getty Images

I was recently asked about the hottest trend in weight loss doing the rounds: honey and cinnamon. I confess this one had passed me by, but a quick internet search uncovered hundreds of results. Boy, had I been missing out.

It turns out honey and cinnamon is a "magic mixture" that can do almost anything. Not only can it help "even the most obese" people lose weight effortlessly just by drinking it in hot water, but it can deal to almost every problem, including arthritis, bladder infections, diabetes, high cholesterol, skin infections, pimples, sore throats, bad breath and infertility.

Of course, as one of the Facebook posts asserts, "drug companies won't like this getting around". Imagine the effects on their profits once everyone knows that all we need to cure us are a couple of simple ingredients found in the pantry?

Who would need medical professionals or scientists to do research when the answer to almost everything is already out there?

I remember when these kinds of things used to be sent around as emails - "forward this to anyone who's concerned about health".

These days, it's even easier to share them in our Facebook feeds and they can reach a much wider audience.

Soon they have enough momentum that everyone from your mum to the trainer at the gym is recommending them. Evidence doesn't come into it.

Cinnamon on top of your cappuccino or cereal is not harmful, but a tablespoon of cinnamon every day for three months could be. And you still won't have lost weight

Care is needed, though. Online, everyone can be an expert and because we are vulnerable to "truthiness" - things that sound plausible and have a ring of truth to them - we're not so good at interpreting which experts are credible and which are making it up as they go along.

And why should we have to? We are bombarded with information all day. How much more time-consuming is it to evaluate the source of every new snippet? Yet when it comes to health and nutrition, we probably should be more circumspect.

It does us no good to share every "new" breakthrough that comes along. It simply adds to the confusion about something which is simple: our basic care and feeding.

It may not surprise you to know that honey and cinnamon is not a magic weight-loss elixir. Honey and cinnamon have potentially beneficial properties, although the evidence is mixed, particularly with cinnamon.

More concerning is that it has potential harmful effects. A common type of cinnamon - cassia cinnamon - can contain large amounts of a chemical called coumarin. In people who are sensitive, coumarin might cause or worsen liver disease.

It also has potentially harmful interactions with other herbs and some prescription drugs. So cinnamon on top of your cappuccino or cereal is not harmful, but a tablespoon of cinnamon every day for three months could be. And you still won't have lost weight.

Niki Bezzant is editor in chief of Healthy Food Guide

- Herald on Sunday

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