AUTHORITY NUTRITION

Honey Lemon Water: An Effective Remedy or Urban Myth?

Written by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD on December 28, 2017

Sipping on a hot cup of honey lemon water is both tasty and soothing.

It has also been promoted as a healing elixir in the health and wellness world. There are claims that this drink can help melt fat, clear up acne and “flush out” toxins from the body.

Both honey and lemons have many health benefits, causing some wonder if this combination is beneficial to health as well.

This article investigates the evidence on honey lemon water.

Honey Lemon Water

Both honey and lemons are popular foods typically used to flavor dishes and drinks.

Honey is a thick, sweet liquid that is produced by honey bees and some other similar insects, though the type produced by honey bees is the most well known.

It is commonly used as a natural substitute for processed sugar and also has some therapeutic uses, such as treating skin wounds and burns ().

Lemons are citrus fruits primarily produced for their tart juice. The pulp and rind can be used as well.

Most health benefits of this tangy fruit come from its high levels of vitamin C and other beneficial plant compounds ().

It is a common belief that combining these two ingredients in a drink can help with a long list of common ailments, including digestive issues, acne and weight gain.

While honey and lemons have many potential health benefits and useful applications, not all claims about honey lemon water are backed by science.

Summary Honey and lemon are popular ingredients that have some health benefits. However, not all health claims about combining honey and lemon are supported by science.

Honey is one of the oldest foods in the world. It has been used as both a food and medicine for thousands of years, even as far back as the stone age.

It is often used as a natural substitute for processed sugar in baking, cooking and beverages, and it also has medicinal uses.

Honey has been linked to a few science-backed health benefits, but it’s important to note that most of these benefits are associated with the raw, unfiltered type.

This is because high-quality, unfiltered honey has more beneficial compounds and nutrients than processed, filtered honey ().

Honey Can Promote Burn and Wound Healing

Honey has been used as a skin treatment for wounds and burns throughout history.

In fact, there is evidence that ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used honey for the treatment of skin ailments ().

Many studies have shown that honey has powerful healing properties when applied to the skin.

In fact, honey has a therapeutic effect on many types of wounds, including burns.

In a review of 26 studies that included over 3,000 people, honey was more effective at healing partial-thickness burns than conventional treatments ().

Additionally, honey may be an effective treatment for diabetic foot ulcers.

Diabetic ulcers are open sores or wounds that are common complications of poorly controlled blood sugar ().

Several studies have shown that honey increases the rate of healing in these types of wounds (, ).

It is thought that honey’s healing properties come from the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory compounds it contains.

In fact, studies suggest that honey may have a protective effect against over 60 different species of bacteria ().

Honey May Suppress Coughs in Children

Honey is a popular treatment for colds and coughs, especially in children.

Not only is honey a flavorful ingredient to add to teas and other drinks, but its use as a cough treatment in children is backed by science.

It can be difficult to convince a child to take a dose of unappealing cough medicine, making honey a tasty alternative treatment.

Several studies have shown that giving sick children honey may reduce coughing and improve sleep quality ().

One study found that a dose of honey was more effective than cough medicine at suppressing coughing and improving sleep in children and teens with upper respiratory infections ().

Another study found that honey reduced both cough severity and frequency in young children with respiratory infections ().

While honey may be an effective and natural option for treating coughs in children, it should never be given to children under one year of age, due to the risk of botulism ().

Summary Studies have shown that honey may treat wounds like burns and diabetic ulcers, as well as help reduce coughing in children with upper respiratory infections.

Lemons are popular for their tart juice and zesty rinds.

Lemon juice is an excellent source of vitamin C and contains small amounts of B vitamins and potassium ().

Lemons also contain beneficial plant compounds like citric acid and flavonoids and have been associated with the following health benefits.

Lemons May Help Prevent Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are hard lumps that form in one or both kidneys when high levels of certain minerals accumulate in the urine ().

A plant compound in lemons called citric acid may help prevent kidney stones.

Citric acid does this by binding to calcium oxalate crystals and inhibiting crystal growth ().

Lemons have the highest amount of this natural kidney stone inhibitor of any citrus fruit.

Some studies have shown that drinking lemon juice and lemonade can prevent kidney stones, though more research is needed ().

Lemons May Help Reduce Heart Disease

Citrus fruits are packed with heart-healthy nutrients, and lemons are no exception.

In fact, the high amount of vitamin C and plant compounds in lemons may reduce certain risk factors for heart disease.

One study in over 10,000 people associated a higher intake of citrus fruits with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke ().

Lemon juice may help reduce high cholesterol levels as well.

A plant compound found in lemons called limonin has been shown to reduce triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol in animal studies ().

Lemons Contain Beneficial Compounds

Lemons are high in the antioxidant vitamin C and other plant compounds that may help reduce oxidative stress caused by free radicals.

An excess of free radicals in the body can damage cells and contribute to diseases like cancer and heart disease (, ).

Just one ounce (28 grams) of lemon juice contains 21% of the recommended intake of vitamin C ().

A diet high in vitamin C may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer like esophageal cancer (, , ).

These tart fruits also contain powerful plant compounds called flavonoids.

Eating foods rich in flavonoids may reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes and even prevent cognitive decline (, , ).

Summary Lemons contain nutrients and beneficial compounds that may help reduce the risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease, esophageal cancer and diabetes. Lemons may also help prevent kidney stones.

Both lemons and honey provide health benefits that are backed by scientific studies.

Combining the two in a tasty drink may have some advantages as well.

Below are some health claims about honey lemon water that are backed by science.

It May Help With Weight Loss

Drinking more water, including honey lemon water, may help you lose weight.

Several studies have shown that increasing your water intake can increase your metabolism and cause you to feel fuller, both of which can help you shed pounds (, ).

What’s more, hydrating with honey lemon water may help you maintain a healthy weight.

One study including 10,000 participants found that those who were not properly hydrated were more likely to be overweight or obese than participants who were adequately hydrated ().

What’s more, drinking honey lemon water can help fill you up before meals, leading to a reduction in overall calorie intake.

Swapping high-calorie, sugary sodas and other sweetened drinks for honey lemon water may also lead to a reduction in calories and sugar.

For example, a 12-ounce (253-gram) can of soda contains 110 calories and a whopping 30 grams of sugar ().

On the other hand, a 12-ounce serving of honey lemon water made with one teaspoon of honey contains around 25 calories and 6 grams of sugar ().

Replacing sugary drinks with honey lemon water can help you consume fewer calories and less sugar, helping you shed pounds.

It May Be Helpful When You Are Sick

Due to the soothing qualities of honey and the high amount of vitamin C in lemons, drinking honey lemon water may be beneficial when you are feeling under the weather.

Vitamin C plays a role in keeping your immune system healthy.

For example, vitamin C helps stimulate the production of white blood cells that help your body fight infection ().

Also, some research suggests vitamin C can reduce the length of the common cold (, ).

Honey has been shown to reduce the severity and frequency of coughing in children with upper respiratory infections, though its effect on adults is unknown ().

Plus, a warm mug of honey lemon water is a soothing remedy for a sore throat and pleasant to drink when you are feeling sick.

It Can Improve Digestive Health

Being properly hydrated is essential for keeping your digestive system healthy.

Dehydration can cause constipation, a common problem in children, pregnant women and the elderly.

Adequate fluid intake is essential for keeping stools soft and preventing constipation.

Drinking honey lemon water may help ease constipation by hydrating your body.

Flavored beverages like honey lemon water can be especially helpful for hydrating children who do not like to drink plain water.

Some research suggests that raw honey may have a beneficial effect on the friendly gut bacteria that help keep your digestive system healthy and in balance ().

For example, one study found that mice who were supplemented with raw honey had increased amounts of the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillius ().

However, more research is needed.

Summary Honey lemon water may benefit your digestive health and help you lose weight. It can also be a soothing drink when you are feeling under the weather.

While drinking honey lemon water may provide a few benefits, many claims about this drink have no scientific evidence to back them.

  • Flushes out toxins: No scientific evidence supports using honey lemon water to rid the body of toxins. Your body effectively detoxifies itself using the skin, intestines, kidneys, liver and respiratory and immune systems.
  • Improves acne: Honey is beneficial when applied directly to the skin, but there is no evidence that drinking honey lemon water can help prevent or treat acne. In fact, added sugar intake from honey can make acne worse (, ).
  • Melts fat: The popular claim that honey lemon water “melts fat” is false. The best way to lose excess body fat is by eating a healthy, well-rounded diet and increasing the number of calories that you burn.
  • Boosts cognitive performance: Some people claim that drinking honey lemon water can improve memory or boost brain function. However, there is no scientific evidence to back such claims.
Summary There is no scientific evidence to support claims that honey lemon water can improve cognitive performance, boost brain function, melt fat or clear up acne.

Making honey lemon water is simple.

Just mix the juice from half of a lemon and a teaspoon of raw, high-quality honey into a cup of hot or warm water.

This beverage is most commonly consumed hot, but it can also be chilled and enjoyed with a few ice cubes.

You can adjust the amounts of lemon juice or honey to suit your taste. However, remember that honey is a source of calories and added sugar.

Honey lemon water can be enjoyed at any time of the day, including as a relaxing pre-bedtime drink.

Because it contains lemon juice, rinsing your mouth with plain water after drinking this beverage is important to help neutralize the acid and prevent tooth enamel erosion.

Summary Honey lemon water is easy to prepare and can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

Honey lemon water is a tasty and soothing beverage that has some health benefits.

It’s a good option for those looking for a lower calorie alternative to sodas and other sweetened beverages.

Drinking honey lemon water may also be useful when you have a cold or upper respiratory infection.

However, there’s no scientific evidence to back claims promoting the use of honey lemon water to detoxify the body, melt fat, clear up acne or boost brain function.

While honey lemon water is an enjoyable beverage, it shouldn't replace plain water in your diet.

An evidence-based nutrition article from our experts at Authority Nutrition.

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