Science backs honey as good for coughs and colds

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Honey has long been used as a home remedy for coughs and colds and now research is backing honey as beneficial for easing upper respiratory tract symptoms.

Published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, the researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 14 clinical trials, involving 1761 participants of varying ages.

After conducting a pooled data analysis, they found that honey was more effective than usual care (typically antibiotics) for improving symptoms, especially the frequency and severity of coughing.

The researchers also found that two of the studies showed that respiratory symptoms lasted 1-2 days fewer along those treated with honey.

While usual care for respiratory infections often includes the prescription of antibiotics – which won’t work if the illness is caused by a virus and may contribute to the growing issue of superbugs and antibiotic resistance – honey might therefore be an alternative when doctors want to prescribe something to safely treat upper respiratory tract symptoms.

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

“Honey is a frequently-used, lay remedy that is well known to patients. It is also cheap, easy to access, and as limited harms.

“When clinicians wish to prescribe for upper respiratory tract infections, we would recommend honey as an alternative to antibiotics.”

So, it’s time to pass me the honey, honey. Seems like the benefits of honey are more than just an old wives’ tale.