Honey ‘may be better than antibiotics’ for curing coughs and colds, study claims

Experts say: Honey is more effective than antibiotics at treating irritating coughs, sore throats, and the common cold.

New research from Oxford University scientists states that doctors should advise their patients to have a spoonful of honey instead of antibiotics when treating symptoms including cough and cold, Daily Mail reveals.

The researchers reviewed studies comparing the effectiveness of honey against cough suppressants, antihistamines, and painkillers. As a result, they found that not only the so-called ‘nectar of gods’ had no harmful side effects, but it was also ‘superior’ at relieving symptoms of the common cold.

On average, honey halted cough severity by 44%. 

What’s more, it was 36% more effective at decreasing cough frequency than common medications. Besides, there was evidence that the sweet treat significantly reduces the recovery period of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). To determine the overall impact of honey, the Oxford researchers reviewed 14 studies, with 1,761 participants.

The study published in the British Medical Journal said:

“Honey was associated with a significantly greater reduction in combined symptom score, cough frequency and cough severity.”

The experts highlighted that honey is cheap, easily accessible, and has no side effects.

These notes and findings come as professionals are concerned that patients are being prescribed antibiotics for coughs and colds far too often. The study states:

“Since the majority of URTIs are viral, antibiotic prescription is both ineffective and inappropriate. Given that a lack of alternative therapies and desire to preserve the patient-doctor relationship are two key contributors to antibiotic overprescription by GPs, our finding that honey may be effective is important.
Honey is a reasonable alternative.

In two of the reviewed studies, the scientists found that cold symptoms in patients treated with honey lasted with up to two days less than in those treated with the usual medicaments. However, the experts warned that honey is a complex substance, which means different types could have different effects.

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

Although honey is ‘safe for use by the majority of the population’, it shouldn’t be given to people allergic to the substance, or to children aged under one year of age.

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