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Honey is effective for symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections (colds and cough): BMJ

photo by anastasia gepp courtesy of

A study published in the British Medical Journal Evidence-Based Medicine online first on August 18 described a systematic review and meta-analysis of research on the use of honey for upper respiratory tract infections (URI) and found that it was in fact better than usual care. From the Abstract:

Conclusions Honey was superior to usual care for the improvement of symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. It provides a widely available and cheap alternative to antibiotics. Honey could help efforts to slow the spread of antimicrobial resistance, but further high quality, placebo controlled trials are needed.

This report is welcome news to parents who are faced with few treatment options for their small children. Dextromethorphan, an anti-tussive (cough suppressing drug) is little better than a placebo but is the only available over-the-counter drug for children with coughs. Honey should be considered a better choice now that the evidence has been compiled for its effectiveness.

Honey is also known to have antibiotic properties and could be offered to parents as an alternative to prescribed antibiotics, which are not known to have any beneficial effects in URIs– generally caused by viruses in any case.

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