Honey best for curing coughs or colds than antibiotic~ Research
It has long been a folk remedy for an irritating cough, sore throats and the common cold.
However, research has now shown that honey is more effective at treating these ailments than antibiotics or over-the-counter medication.
Experts at Oxford University said doctors should tell patients to have a spoonful of honey rather than prescribing antibiotics which can fuel antimicrobial resistance.
They reviewed studies which compared the effectiveness of honey against cough suppressants, antihistamines and painkillers when treating upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) symptoms – which include a cough and cold.
Overall, honey was found to be ‘superior’ at relieving coughs, sore throats and congestion – and unlike other medications, it had no harmful side effects.
Honey was on average 36 percent more effective at reducing cough frequency than common medications and it cut cough severity by 44 percent more.
There was also evidence honey reduces the time it takes to recover from URTIs by up to two days.
‘Honey was associated with a significantly greater reduction in combined symptom score, cough frequency and cough severity,’ the study in the British Medical Journal said.
It added that the so-called ‘nectar of the gods’ is cheap, readily available and has virtually no side effects. The authors also said using honey for infections could reduce the over-prescription of antibiotics, which is fuelling a crisis of antimicrobial resistance.
Experts are increasingly worried that doctors too often dole out antibiotics for coughs and colds, for which they are rarely necessary because most of these are caused by viruses.
“Honey was superior to usual care for the improvement of symptoms of URTIs. It provides a widely available and cheap alternative to antibiotics. URTIs are the most frequent reason for antibiotic prescription. Since the majority of URTIs are viral, antibiotic prescription is both ineffective and inappropriate,” the researchers said.
“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.”
Honey has long been used as a home remedy and two years ago the UK’s medical watchdog included it in official guidelines for treating coughs.
But there were limited reviews on its effectiveness in treating URTIs. The Oxford scientists reviewed 14 studies, with 1,761 participants, to determine the impact of honey when treating upper respiratory tract symptoms.
The 14 studies compared treating patients with honey against ‘usual care’ – such as cough medicines and painkillers.
They found that honey was more effective at improving symptoms – especially the frequency and severity of coughing. In the case of the antihistamine diphenhydramine, honey was ‘significantly better’ as it reduced cough severity by 50 percent.