Honey better treatment for coughs and colds than antibiotics, study claims
Honey may be better than conventional treatments for coughs, blocked noses and sore throats, researchers have said. The substance is cheap, readily available, and has virtually no side-effects.
Doctors can recommend it as a suitable alternative to antibiotics, which are often prescribed for such infections, even though they are not effective, scientists from the University of Oxford said.
Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) affect the nose, throat, voice box and the large air passages (bronchi) that lead from the windpipe to the lungs.
There is evidence for honey being used in children – although the NHS warns against giving it to the under-ones because of the danger of botulism – and it has long been used as a home remedy to treat coughs and colds. But the evidence for its effectiveness for a range of upper respiratory tract symptoms in adults has not been systematically reviewed.
To address this, the scientists looked at research databases for relevant studies comparing honey and preparations that included it as an ingredient with usual care – mostly antihistamines, expectorants, cough suppressants and painkillers. They found 14 suitable clinical trials, involving 1,761 participants of varying ages.
Data analysis of the studies indicated that honey was more effective than usual care for improving symptoms, especially the frequency and severity of coughing. Two of the studies showed that symptoms lasted one to two days less among those treated with honey.
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