Fans of Mary Poppins already know how a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
Now, new research conducted by Oxford University researchers suggests that the sweet substance of honey may in fact be the medicine that people can use to treat upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). In fact, three researchers are saying that honey is a better treatment for URTIs that ones that are typically used today.
We’ll break the story down here:
- Doctors have been prescribing antibiotics for URTIs, sometimes in response to patient demand.
- URTIs are, in general, caused by viruses—not bacteria—making the antibiotics useless in fighting them.
- As more and more antibiotics have been prescribed, bacteria have been developing resistance to them.
- This has spurred scientists on to explore other forms of treatment.
This is where honey enters the story.
Historical Uses of Medicinal Honey
In a 2013 report by the National Institutes of Health, they acknowledged the following: “Honey has had a valued place in traditional medicine for centuries. However, it has a limited use in modern medicine due to lack of scientific support . . . Human use of honey is traced to some 8,000 years ago as depicted by Stone Age paintings. The ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Chinese, Greeks and Romans employed honey for wounds and diseases of the gut.”
Here are a few more historical examples noted in this report:
- In ancient India, honey was considered one of the most amazing gifts that nature could give to people. They would use it for digestive issues and “irritating coughs,” also finding it helpful to keep teeth and gums healthy. Experts of the era used honey for burns, wounds, cardiac palpitation and pain, lung imbalances, anemia, and eye problems.
- In ancient Egypt, honey was listed in 900 different remedies, and they often combined this deliciously sweet substance with wine and milk. They appreciated honey for its antibacterial properties, using it for people who had infected wounds.
- In ancient Greece, fever was treated with watered down honey to which medicines were added. They also mixed it with unfermented grape juice for gout and used it to heal wounds, and treat sore throats, coughs, and more.
Fast forwarding to today, the Oxford researchers examined the results from 14 different clinical trials, ones that studied traditional treatments for URTIs, including cold and sinus medicines available over the counter and prescribed antibiotics—and, of course, honey. Findings included that honey:
- “proved to be the best therapy among all of those tested”
- was 36% more effective in reducing the amount of coughing
- was 44% more effective in reducing the severity of coughing
- reduced the length of infection by an average of two days
So, how exactly does this work? For one thing, honey contains hydrogen peroxide, which kills bacteria, and its consistency does a wonderful job of coating the mouth and throat and soothing irritation—and with none of the side effects.
Choose Between Creamed Honey and Honey in the Comb
We maintain more than 40 beehives and offer you a choice between silky smooth creamed honey and a waxy comb containing deliciously smooth honey.