Honey Relieves Cold Symptoms Better Than Antibiotics & OTC Medications [Study]
Honey: A natural remedy for the common cold.
Temperatures in Wisconsin are dropping, and that means one thing – cold season is here. But before you head to the pharmacy for that stuffy nose, new research suggests that if you have an upper respiratory tract infection, honey might be even more effective at relieving your symptoms than antibiotics and over-the-counter remedies.
Researchers from The British Medical Journal evaluated 14 studies that compared honey to standard medical treatments for upper respiratory tract infection symptoms, including cough frequency and severity, sleep difficulty, and congestion. Using honey for cold symptom relief was shown to be more effective than antibiotics, prednisone, and over-the-counter cough suppressants. The findings were the same for children and adults.
A Welcome Alternative To Antibiotics
Having a natural treatment for upper respiratory infections would be a welcome alternative to the usual medical remedies —particularly antibiotics.
The majority of upper respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses and are generally self-limited illnesses. Antibiotics are not indicated for and are ineffective against viruses. In fact, overuse of antibiotics for viral infections is the main reason for the increase of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, making it harder to cure true bacterial infections. There’s also the risk of side effects such as severe diarrhea and allergic reactions.
Unfortunately, upper respiratory tract infections are the most frequent reason for antibiotic prescriptions. Research shows that a lack of alternatives and the desire to preserve the patient-doctor relationship are two key contributors to antibiotic over-prescription by general practitioners.
Honey can be a great alternative to antibiotics and other cold and cough medications that may have side effects, especially in children.
How Does Honey Help?
The beneficial health effects of honey have been known for thousands of years. Its high viscosity provides a protective barrier that prevents a viral infection from spreading further into your respiratory system, and the mild acidity and hydrogen peroxide content of honey have anti-microbial and anti-viral effects.
The studies examined in the meta-analysis varied considerably in their dosing, ranging from 3 grams to 10 grams per day. My advice? Simply add a tablespoon of honey to your cup of tea when you start developing the symptoms of an oncoming cold.
What This Means For You
Honey may offer effective relief for common cold symptoms, but it’s not clear whether taking it as a preventative measure is beneficial. You’ll still need to practice good hygiene and bolster your immune system through diet and exercise.
Also, honey’s not for everyone. Populations who shouldn’t use honey to treat a cold include:
- Babies under the age of 1 year old (due to botulism spores occasionally found in honey).
- People who are allergic to honey.
- Pregnant women or any individuals who need to avoid unpasteurized products.
Additionally, because honey is a natural sugar, you’ll need to factor it into your daily intake, particularly if you have diabetes.
Honey and COVID-19
So if honey helps the body take care of one type of coronavirus – the common cold – can it also help with that other coronavirus?
A recent randomized, controlled study performed by researchers across Pakistan, Chile, Canada, and the US investigated the effectiveness of a combination of honey and nigella satvia (also known as black cumin seed) on 313 patients with varying degrees of COVID-19.
Honey (at a dosage of 1g/kg/day) and nigella sativa (at a dosage of 80mg/kg/day) were chosen because of their ‘over the counter’ availability, affordability, and proven anti-viral properties.
The results? The honey/nigella sativa combination significantly improved symptoms (50% reduction in time taken to alleviate symptoms compared to placebo), allowed the body to eliminate the virus faster (6 days to clear the virus vs. 10 days with placebo), and reduced mortality (4% mortality vs. 19% with placebo) in patients with moderate and severe disease.
The study’s authors concluded that honey and nigella sativa “can be used as a safe and effective therapy in COVID-19 patients as it promotes quicker recovery and survival and thus represents an affordable therapeutic option and can be used alone or in combination with other therapies to fight COVID-19.”
The Bottom Line
If you do come down with a sniffle and are looking for a quick, cheap, and tasty remedy for your symptoms, check your pantry before you head to the pharmacy.
And share what you’ve learned! We want our entire community to be healthier and stronger so they can do more of what they love. Good nutrition, proper exercise and regular chiropractic care to keep your musculoskeletal system working optimally are the best ways to reach that goal.
Need a chiropractor in the Brookfield, Waukesha, Wauwatosa, or New Berlin areas? Call us at 262-345-4155 to make an appointment or use our online scheduling app – we’d love to help you get the most out of your body!