An Oxford meta analysis finds- honey most effective treatment for coughs and colds. In this meta analysis, the 3 researchers confirm what the other studies have found is that honey is an excellent choice for a first line of defense against upper respiratory tract infections (URTI).
Treating Colds with Honey
It's not just a sweetener with nutritional benefits, it can also be a first line of defense on warding off coughs and colds or suppressing their symptoms.
The analysis suggests antibiotics are ineffective for these kinds of minor coughs and colds, and honey offers superior symptomatic relief according to the evidence gathered to date.
Raw Honey is Key
It is important to mention raw honey is what is effective as it contains the antimicrobial characteristics that are mostly helpful. In fact in 2018 the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and Public Health England changed its general recommendations to suggest to doctors to recommend using raw honey for minor coughs and colds before prescribing antibiotics.
The earlier recommendations from the NIHCE were based on a number of scattered studies looking at the effectiveness of honey in treating different symptoms arising from upper respiratory tract infections. Reducing unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions was the primary reason behind changing the general health recommendations from doctors.
Most of the previous studies identified the efficacy of honey on colds and coughs on younger children. This study/ analysis took a larger look at its effect on treating all ages of people.
The new study/analysis homed in on 14 clinical trials investigating raw honey’s efficacy treating URTI's. Only two of the trials specifically compared honey to a placebo, while the rest matched honey against a variety of "usual care” over the counter, such as cough syrups to antihistamine treatments.
What the New Study/ Analysis Found
The researchers found honey was more effective at reducing upper respiratory tract symptoms compared to over the counter medicines.
“Honey is a frequently used lay remedy that is well known to patients,”
the authors conclude in the new meta-analysis.
“It is also cheap, easy to access, and has limited harms. When clinicians wish to prescribe for URTI, we would recommend honey as an alternative to antibiotics. Honey is more effective and less harmful than usual care alternatives and avoids causing harm through antimicrobial resistance.”
The researchers did clearly add, not all honey is created equal and the benefits seen are likely tied to the antimicrobial characteristics of raw honey. They say honey is a complex and heterogeneous substance, and some honeys may be more effective in treating coughs and colds.
It is noted, however, despite the broad variety of types of honey used in the clinical trials that were reviewed, the results were significantly consistent. This offers a reassuring signal that while some honey may be more effective than others, any raw honey should generally be somewhat beneficial.
Honey for Cough
So next time you feel a cough or flu coming on, reach for some high quality raw honey. Raw honey can help eliminate or at a minimum reduce the ailments that are associated with those colds and coughs.
Honey and Lemon
We suggest using honey with a fresh squeezed lemon mixed with some water. You can order some of our beekeepers reserve honey made from bees in the Midwest located in MN and WI. Our honey offers a floral essence of wildflower and goes great with lemon and water.
More information can be found on the analysis at https://ebm.bmj.com/content/early/2020/07/28/bmjebm-2020-111336#request-permissions