Got a cold? Try some honey

In the journals

Published: November, 2020

If winter brings you a sore throat and coughing, a spoonful of honey can be quite soothing. And it might even reduce symptoms from an upper respiratory tract infection, suggests a review of studies published online Aug. 18, 2020, by BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine. Upper respiratory infections (such as colds) are viral illnesses that affect the nose, throat, voice box, and large airways that lead to the lungs. Symptoms include a stuffy nose, congestion, sore throat, and cough. Researchers reviewed 14 studies of almost 1,800 people with upper respiratory infections being treated with either honey or usual methods (antihistamines, expectorants, cough suppressants, and painkillers). Honey appeared to improve symptoms (especially cough frequency and severity), and in some cases shorten the duration of symptoms by a day or two. The findings were only observational and don't prove honey is a cure. But honey has antimicrobial properties, and scientists say that in adults (but not in kids age one or younger), it's a harmless way to address symptoms.

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