Next time you find yourself reaching for something to subdue your sniffles, you might want to consider heading to the kitchen instead of your medicine cabinet. A recent study found that nature has a stronger solution for the common cold than anything you might find in a pharmacy. The new research, published in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, found that honey can actually cure your cold better than medicine.
Honey has been touted as a miracle elixir for colds and coughs for years, but this new meta-analysis, conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford, backs that notion by science. The researchers conducted a review of 14 previous studies that involved 1,761 individuals to find out whether or not honey is a worthwhile replacement for over-the-counter and prescription cold and cough medicine. And lo and behold, the researchers found that honey proved to be a superior treatment when compared with medicinal common cold care. The natural remedy reduced symptoms, especially cough frequency and severity, significantly more than common cold medication, according to the study.
The researchers point out that prescribing medicine for upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) is mostly futile. “Since the majority of URTIs are viral, antibiotic prescription is both ineffective and inappropriate. However, a lack of effective alternatives, as well as a desire to preserve the patient-doctor relationship, both contribute to antibiotic over-prescription,” the authors write.
Using honey in place of medication could avoid weakening your immune system’s response—called antimicrobial resistance—a serious problem that can cause medication to become ineffective and allow infections to endure, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The study authors point out that another benefit of using honey as a cold remedy is that it is widely available and fairly inexpensive compared to antibiotics and other cold medicine. So, it’s more effective, less harmful, and more economical than other forms of cold and cough treatment.
The researchers even say clinicians should consider prescribing honey to patients seeking treatment for their colds and coughs. And if you’re worried about your cold, check out 27 Subtle Signs Your “Cold” Means Something Else.