Can Honey Help Treat Colds?

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A recent review suggests honey is more effective than other treatments for colds, but some experts question this review. So, is honey some kind of alternative remedy that nature offers us, or is it just an old folk tale?

Honey has been used by people for thousands of years. Explanations regarding the use of honey in medicine are found in the Quran and the Bible, but also in the texts of the Greek Doctor Hippocrates, who is considered to be the author of the Hippocratic Oath and one of the fathers of the first medicine.

An 8000-year-old cave painting discovered in Spain in 1924 depicts a man collecting honey from a beehive.

Nowadays, honey is known to have antimicrobial properties. Studies show the effectiveness of honey in combating Salmonella and E.coli bacteria, while honey, which is included in the medical class, is used in the treatment of some wounds due to its anti-inflammatory properties.


Honey is an alternative treatment offered to those suffering from the common cold, but as a treatment method, honey’s effectiveness against colds has only been systematically reviewed recently.

Scientists at Oxford University have determined that honey is more effective at alleviating symptoms of people with colds, flu, or other upper respiratory infections. During this study, scientists examined 14 different studies by comparing the effectiveness of honey in the treatment process with other treatment methods such as cough syrup, steroid, and antibiotics that heal upper respiratory tract infections.

However, epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz also questioned the quality of the studies examined, and therefore the validity of the research results, which stated that honey is better than conventional treatment methods.

One of the authors of the new study, Dr. “The studies included were certainly not the best trials ever done,” says Joseph Lee. “As a result, we wanted more work to be done. We have to decide what to do now, depending on what is available in clinical medicine. ”


“This result makes us less confident that honey is effective against colds and similar ailments. However, given that alternatives don’t work or are harmful, that doesn’t change the way honey is recommended as a treatment, ”says Lee. “For example, we know that people are starting to use antibiotics for upper respiratory infections.”

This is one of the biggest reasons for antibiotic consumption. Antibiotics can have side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, skin rash, and allergic reactions. Worse, antibiotics lead to antimicrobial resistance that threatens the future of medicine.

Honey consumption also has a reliable profile, Lee says; However, honey is an extremely variable product as it contains 200 different substances, different proteins, and vitamins. Primarily, honey consists of water and sugar.

Mayerowitz-Katz: “What I wanted to say about the subject was not necessarily the included studies. The point is that what I’m expressing is a narrative study that expresses thoughts that are technically better researched. “


It is well known that syrup and its derivatives, including honey, form a cooling film around the throat and have a soothing effect from the common cold. Over-the-counter cough medicines try to mimic this with the addition of sugar. While the sugar taste triggers salivation, mucus secretions also relax the airway by lubricating it.

Professor, who has been managing the Center for Colds for nearly 30 years at Cardiff University Ron Eccles: “The common factor between cough medicines, laryngeal lozenges, and honey is that all these substances are sweet.” he explained. All three of these substances will cure the common cold and throat inflammation, but these substances will not treat other symptoms.

Eccles: “The most disturbing and most common symptom of upper respiratory tract infections in children is fever, where honey is not beneficial in any treatment process, but common therapies such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are effective. Another symptom of cold and flu is nasal congestion, and honey does not relieve a person’s nasal congestion. “

“Pain relievers such as paracetamol, aspirin, and ibuprofen will be my first treatment for colds and flu. Then a hot, delicious drink. Eccles says.