Mum was right! Honey better for treating coughs and colds than antibiotics

Aug 19, 2020
It's cheap, readily available, and has virtually no side effects. Source: Getty.

Honey has been used as a home remedy to treat coughs and colds for years, but now researchers say it could be more effective than conventional treatments like antibiotics. Not to mention, the substance is cheap, readily available and has virtually no side-effects.

The study published online in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine found honey may be better than conventional treatments for coughs, blocked noses and sore throats.

To address this, the researchers looked at 14 studies and found honey was more effective than usual conventional treatments at relieving symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, especially at treating persistent, lingering coughs.

Two of the studies showed that symptoms lasted one to two days fewer among those treated with honey, although the researchers note not all honey is the same and more placebo-controlled trials need to be done before reaching a more definitive conclusion.

Upper respiratory tract infections affect the nose, throat, voice box and the large air passages (bronchi) that lead from the windpipe to the lungs. Doctors often prescribe antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections, which don’t work if the illness is caused by a virus, and in more cases than not, it is.

“Upper respiratory tract infections are the most frequent reason for an antibiotic prescription. Since the majority of URTIs are viral, an antibiotic prescription is both ineffective and inappropriate,” the researchers pointed out.

“Honey is a frequently used lay remedy that is well known to patients. It is also cheap, easy to access, and has limited harms,” they concluded. “When clinicians wish to prescribe for URTI, we would recommend honey as an alternative to antibiotics. [It] is more effective and less harmful than usual care alternatives and avoids causing harm through antimicrobial resistance.”

Not sure which honey to get? Consumers can currently choose from three major types of honey: refined honey, raw honey and medicinal honey. Many consumers believe all three types are beneficial, however, while raw and medicinal honey, such as Manuka honey, can have health benefits, refined varieties are often only beneficial as a sugar replacement.

The health benefits associated with raw honey include relieving sore throats, digestive problems and blood sugar levels. Those looking to kickstart the day with a health boost can also add one teaspoon of raw honey to a mug of hot water and lemon.

Meanwhile, Manuka honey has seen a rise in popularity over the past few years due to its powerful antibacterial properties. The health benefits can include assisting with allergies, anti-ageing, oral health, gut healthy, fighting infection and blood sugar levels just to name a few.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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