Un-bee-lievable! Honey is better for nuking colds than over-the-counter drugs, new study says

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Honey has long been touted as a remedy for sore throats, tickly coughs and blocked noses. (Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Honey has long been touted as a remedy for sore throats, tickly coughs and blocked noses. (Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Honey has long been touted as a remedy for sore throats, tickly coughs and blocked noses but now a new study has shown that it’s actually more effective than many over-the-counter drugs when it comes to treating upper respiratory tract infections.

Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) often affect the nose, throat, voice box and the large air passages that lead from the windpipe to the lungs.

The study by the Oxford University Medical School, which has been published in the British Medical Journal, found that people who were treated with honey had cold symptoms for one or two days less than those who were not.

In light of this finding, Hibatullah Abuelgasim, a researcher who led the study, suggests that doctors add honey to their medical arsenal, The Guardian reports.

“Honey is cheap, readily available, and has virtually no side effects, and doctors can recommend it as a suitable alternative to antibiotics, which are often prescribed for these types of infection, even though they aren't suitable,” she said.

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

Abuelgasim and her team looked through medical databases to find relevant studies which compared honey with pharmaceutical treatments, including antihistamines, expectorants, cough suppressants and painkillers.

In light of this finding, Hibatullah Abuelgasim, a
In light of this finding, Hibatullah Abuelgasim, a researcher who led the study, suggests that doctors add honey to their medical arsenal. (Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

More than 1700 people of different ages from nearly 15 clinical trials were pooled together and analysed by the researchers.

According to the Telegraph, the scientists noted that as honey is a complex substance and not a uniform product, more studies need to be done before definitive conclusions can be drawn.

It is widely recognised that overuse of antibiotics to treat infections may result in antimicrobial resistance, which the World Health Organisation has warned could be a “threat to global public health.”

How to use honey to treat a cough
  • squeeze half a lemon into a mug of boiled water
  • add 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey
  • Drink while still warm

Never give honey to a child younger than the age of one. It can give rise to infant botulism, a rare but serious form of food poisoning

Source: British Medical Journal, The Guardian, Telegraph, The Sun, Australian Honey Bee, NHS

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