Sometimes the best remedy is also the simplest.
Honey has long been known as a home treatment to help alleviate coughs and colds, but new research has found that the sweet medicine is possibly better than the stronger stuff.
In a bold new study published in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford scientists found that honey is an effective alternative to prescriptions including antibiotics, as well as over-the-counter treatments when it comes to mild respiratory afflictions.
In a review and analysis of 14 studies including the experiences of 1,761 participants, researchers found that honey was consistently more successful and quicker at improving symptoms including cough frequency and severity than other treatments.
“Honey was superior to usual care for the improvement of symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections,” the study authors concluded.
Not only is honey a more efficient cure, but researchers also emphasized that it has practically no side effects. The overprescription of antibiotics, meanwhile, has caused an epidemic of drug-resistant “superbugs” and infections that are immune to treatment, killing 35,000 Americans a year.
“Honey could help efforts to slow the spread of antimicrobial resistance,” wrote the scientists. “It provides a widely available and cheap alternative to antibiotics.”
Honey is both affordable and accessible — further reason why study authors advise doctors to prescribe it to sick patients instead of drugs.
The scientists do acknowledge, though, that honey has many variations and combinations — including coffee, milk, cough suppressant syrups and herb extracts in the studies they analyzed — and further research is necessary.
Still, they formally recommend docs begin prescribing patients honey over antibiotics when appropriate.
“Honey is a frequently used lay remedy that is well known to patients. It is also cheap, easy to access, and has limited harms. When clinicians wish to prescribe for URTI [upper respiratory tract infections], we would recommend honey as an alternative to antibiotics,” they wrote.
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