A spoonful of honey doesn’t just help the medicine go down – turns out it is the best medicine for many ailments. Next time you have a cold, you're better off looking for help in the pantry than the medicine cabinet, according to researchers. A growing body of scientific evidence supports honey’s use as a remedy for everything from coughs to burns and acne. It’s cheap, it doesn’t require a doctor’s visit or a prescription, and it carries a very low risk of side effects. As antibiotic resistance continues to cause concern among doctors, the race is on to find alternative treatments to prevent over-prescription of antibiotics in the future. And leading the pack is Manuka honey, which is higher in antibacterial activity than any other variety of honey.
Antibiotic medications are often prescribed for coughs, sore throats and runny noses, but in many cases these symptoms are caused by viruses, rather than bacteria, so antibiotics (which only tackle bacteria) are totally ineffective. The more often we take antibiotics, the more bacteria build up resistance to them, so medical researchers are urgently investigating effective alternatives. A recent study at the University of Oxford, published in the medical journal BMJ Evidence Based Medicine, looked at 14 clinical trials involving 1761 participants to try to answer the question: “Honey is a folklore favorite when it comes to cough and cold remedies. Is there any evidence that honey actually does improve cough and cold symptoms?” The researchers found that honey was more effective than medications such as antihistamines, cough suppressants, expectorants and painkillers at reducing symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. It was especially good at reducing the severity and frequency of coughing, and in some cases appeared to shorten the length of the illness by up to two days.
They recommended doctors suggest honey instead of antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections. Meanwhile, a further study took the investigation a step further by analysing the antibacterial properties of Manuka honey specifically. Published in the journal AIMS Microbiology, it analysed published research and concluded that the potential importance of the honey for medicinal purposes cannot be underestimated. “Manuka honey is a dark monofloral honey rich in phenolic content, and currently it is gaining much attention for its antimicrobial activity,” the study team noted. “Research has shown that Manuka honey of different UMF values has medicinal properties.” The research data confirmed that Manuka honey’s higher phenolic and methylglyoxal content gives it superior antibacterial activity, in comparison to non-Manuka honey. “Manuka honey has proved the front-runner of honeys for non-peroxide antimicrobial activity,” they said. “The antibacterial potency of Manuka honey was found to be related to the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating.” The researchers concluded that Manuka honey can be safely used as an alternative natural antibiotic. Source: BMJ Evidence Based Medicine, The Guardian, AIMS Microbiology
Disclaimer: This article is designed to inform and not to provide a direction on medication. The research outlined is in its infancy. Bee products can cause a variety of reactions so please consult your doctor before using any bee or honey products. Honey should not be given to babies under the age of one.