Treat upper respiratory diseases with honey
Many people use honey as a natural remedy for a cold because it is said to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, according to a recent study, honey seems to be well suited for symptom relief and is more effective than antibiotics in the case of a cold.
Honey can be far more effective than antibiotics in treating a common cold, according to a study conducted by researchers from the internationally renowned University of Oxford. The re is a simple reason for this: Most colds are caused by viruses that antibiotics won’t help against, but honey works here too. The meta-study was published in the English-language journal “BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine”.
Dangers of using antibiotics
The experts at the University of Oxford emphasize that colds and coughs that occur in humans are often not caused by bacteria. In many of these cases viruses are the triggering factor and antibiotics are ineffective against viruses. The use of antibiotics also has another disadvantage that should by no means be underestimated: it can lead to bacteria becoming resistant to the active ingredients.
The se antibiotic-resistant bacteria can then infect other people, which contributes to further spread. In recent years, the growing resistance of bacteria to various antibiotics has become a major threat to human health, warns the World Health Organization. Antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria are also particularly dangerous for people with an immune deficiency.
Fight viruses better with honey
For the current meta-study, the results of 14 different studies were evaluated, which together had around 1,400 participants. The researchers found that honey actually reduces the severity of diseases of the upper respiratory tract. Honey can also help alleviate the symptoms of viruses and thus shorten the course of the disease, the researchers report.
The honey causes mucus and secretions in the upper respiratory tract to be diluted, the urge to cough is reduced and existing mucus can be coughed up more easily, explains the research team. The researchers also attribute the alleviation of the urge to cough to the fact that the nerve fibers that trigger a cough and nerve fibers that are involved in tasting sweetness are very close to one another. Honey could trigger an interaction between the nerve fibers and this seems to lead to the cough being suppressed.
Alternatives to honey?
The researchers suspect that sweet substances could generally have a calming effect on cough receptors. In this case, it would also be possible that other sweet foods such as maple syrup or syrup made from dates could also be effective in treating coughs.
Don’t give babies honey
The experts also point out that children under one year of age should not be given honey. Because honey can contain bacteria that pose a risk to babies, warn the researchers. This is due to the fact that the intestinal flora of the infants is not yet properly developed. Spore-forming bacteria from honey could settle in your intestines and, in the worst case, lead to so-called infant botulism. It is possible that in such cases even life-threatening paralysis of the breathing and swallowing muscles may occur.
Problems with honey from the supermarket
When consuming honey, it should also be noted that honey from the supermarket has often been processed, filtered and treated with heat, which means that it remains liquid and the pathogens it contains are destroyed. However, this can mean that the beneficial properties of honey are also reduced. In addition, according to the researchers, the analysis of the various studies has sometimes shown quite different results and some of the studies were only based on estimates.
In summary, however, it can be said that honey was clearly superior to antibiotics in the treatment of infections of the upper respiratory tract and often brought about a relief of symptoms. Honey thus offers a widely available and inexpensive alternative to the treatment of colds and, according to experts, could possibly also help to slow down the spread of microbial resistance. For this, however, further high-quality, placebo-controlled studies are required. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.
- Hibatullah Abuelgasim, Charlotte Albury, Joseph Lee: Effectiveness of honey for symptomatic relief in upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis, in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine (veröffentlicht 18.08.2020), BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine
This article is for general guidance only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.