In traditional medicine, honey has long been used in remedies for a variety of health problems. Found to possess antioxidant and antibacterial properties, honey contains many vitamins and minerals (including vitamin B2, vitamin B6, iron, and manganese). Common honey remedies include the treatment of wounds, allergies, cough, and colds.
Health Benefits of Honey
Although honey's health effects have yet to be extensively researched, some studies suggest that honey remedies may be useful for certain conditions. Here's a look at several key study findings:
1) Sinus Problems
In a test-tube study published in 2009, researchers found that honey can kill three types of drug-resistant bacteria known to cause sinusitis. In fact, study results showed that honey knocked out the bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa and methicicillin-resistant and -susceptible Staphylococcus aureus) more effectively than commonly used antibiotic drugs.
While these study results indicate that honey remedies may be of some use to people with sinusitis, it's important to seek medical attention in treatment of sinusitis in order to reduce risk of serious complications (such as meningitis and vision problems).
When it comes to easing the cough and sleep problems associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infection, honey may be preferable to standard cough suppressants. That's the main finding of a 2007 study, in which 105 children with upper respiratory tract infections were given a single dose of honey, dextromethorphan, or no treatment a half-hour before bedtime. When comparing the effects of honey and dextromethorphan, researchers found no significant differences.
In a report published in 2010, however, researchers concluded that there is "insufficient evidence to advise for or against the use of honey for acute cough in children."
Some honey proponents claim that regular consumption of locally harvested honey can help protect against allergies (such as hay fever). To test this theory, researchers in a 2002 study assigned 36 people with rhinoconjunctivitis (allergy-induced runny nose and itchy, watery eyes) to eat a tablespoon of locally collected honey, nationally collected honey, or honey-flavored corn syrup each day. Study results showed that neither group of honey-consuming study members experienced significantly greater improvement in their symptoms (compared with the placebo group).
How to Use Honey Remedies
More research needs to be conducted before honey remedies can be recommended as a treatment for any health condition. However, since honey is generally considered a safe, healthy substance, it's unlikely that use of honey remedies will produce any adverse effects. In addition to using honey as a remedy, you can increase your honey consumption by using it as a sweetener in a number of health-promoting beverages, such as black tea and green tea.
Alandejani T, Marsan J, Ferris W, Slinger R, Chan F. "Effectiveness of honey on Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms." Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009 141(1):114-8.
Oduwole O, Meremikwu MM, Oyo-Ita A, Udoh EE. "Honey for acute cough in children." Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 20;(1):CD007094.
Paul IM, Beiler J, McMonagle A, Shaffer ML, Duda L, Berlin CM Jr. "Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents." Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007 161(12):1140-6.
Rajan TV, Tennen H, Lindquist RL, Cohen L, Clive J. "Effect of ingestion of honey on symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis." Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2002 88(2):198-203.