Study finds your grandma was right about honey for colds after all

Advice to drink warm tea or lemon water with honey is a common home remedy directed at those who are suffering from a cold and sore throat, but it’s more than just a comforting habit, according to a new study. As it turns out, honey is a pretty effective way to soothe a cold and sore throat at home, at least according to new research from the University of Oxford. The best part? It doesn’t have the side effects of antibiotics.

Honey is found all over the world, is readily available to consumers, and is relatively cheap in most places. It is also, according to the new study, more effective and less risky than the antibiotics typically prescribed to people suffering from colds and their related sore throats.

These colds are otherwise known as upper respiratory tract infections; they can include things like a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, hoarse voice, and coughing. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed for these colds, but they’re not actually effective at getting rid of them. Consuming ordinary honey is, the researchers safe, a cheaper, safer, and more easily obtained alternative.

This latest study didn’t involve participants directly, but rather it was an analysis of existing data involving honey as an ingredient. A total of 14 clinical trials were identified that involved more than 1700 people collectively. Based on this analysis, the latest study noted that people with colds who consumed honey had their symptoms clear up faster and experienced less severe coughing.

This doesn’t mean the matter is settled — not all of the studies used in the analysis involved a placebo, plus honey itself is complex and doesn’t include the exact same composition. Whether the results can be replicated in a future study — and whether a variety of honey products reveal the same benefits — is yet to be seen.

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