Health Experts Say Honey Is Better Than Antibiotics to Treat Cough

Health Experts Say Honey Is Better Than Antibiotics to Treat Cough

Those bees have given us an exceptional gift! Turns out, honey can be just as effective a treatment against cough and phlegm as antibiotics.

Is honey* good for cough and phlegm? According to health experts very recently, yet. In fact, they recommend that honey is more effective than antibiotics and over-the-counter medicine to treat coughs. 

Let’s take a deeper look into the cough-fighting properties of honey, and why it’s more effective for some health conditions than antibiotics. 

*Honey should never be given to babies under the age of one due to the risk of a rare disease known as botulism.

Wait, But What About Antibiotics?

Health Experts Say Honey Is Better Than Antibiotics to Treat Cough

Image source: iStock

Out of habit, antibiotics are one of the first things we reach for when we fall sick, be it just a cough.

Many of us perceive antibiotics as a quick, efficient fix for most common illnesses, including cough. It’s not wrong to say that even many paediatricians and family doctors are quick to prescribe antibiotics for cough and cold.

However, in new draft guidelines published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE), medical experts emphasise that most coughs can be cured quite easily without antibiotics.

In fact, Dr Susan Hopkins, healthcare-associated infection and antimicrobial resistance deputy director at PHE, strongly advises against the use of antibiotics, stressing that they even can lead to more complicated health problems. 

Basically, when our bodies get used to too many antibiotics, we get used to them, and so develop what is known as antibiotic resistance. In other words, antibiotics become useless to treat even more serious illnesses. 

“Antibiotic resistance is a huge problem and we need to take action now to reduce antibiotic use. Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk of developing infections which in turn cannot be easily treated.”

Enter honey, and all its beneficial properties, and the answer to the question, “Is honey good for cough and phlegm?”

How Is Honey Good for Cough and Phlegm?

is honey good for cough and phlegm

Is honey good for cough and phlegm?

According to the NICE/PHE draft, taking honey to treat cough and phlegm could be just as effective as – if not more than – antibiotics. Honey is considered a less radical alternative and an effective treatment to the illness within a few weeks of consumption. The usual “life cycle” of acute cough is between three to four weeks.

Honey is easily accessible for purchase online or in stores, and contains specific ingredients that help fight cough and phlegm symptoms effectively. Bonus points, that it does not require a prescription!

Similarly to cough medicines, you’ll find that honey has pelargonium, guaifenesin and dextromethorphan. These ingredients are scientifically proven to fight and alleviate cough and phlegm symptoms.

Be advised though, honey should never be given to children below one-year-old or they risk developing botulism.

Always seek medical advice and care if symptoms do not recede, or if you have pre-existing medical conditions linked to your illness.

Is Honey Good for Cough and Phlegm: 3 Ways to Consume It When Ill

1. Honey, Warm Water and Lemon


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This an age-old remedy and is quite an easy fix. Spoon into a cup one tablespoon of honey(or more if you prefer).

Follow with a squeeze of lemon or cut a slice and drop it in the cup. Fill it with warm water, sip and enjoying the soothingness! 

Lemon is a natural antibacterial agent and contains high levels of vitamin C. This helps boost your body’s immune system to fight diseases.

For best results, repeat a few times a day, for three or four weeks.

2. Honey, Apple Cider Vinegar and Warm Water

Another home remedy to try!

Get some unfiltered apple cider vinegar and pour a spoonful or two in a mug.  Apple cider vinegar has a very long history of effective treatment against different illnesses. It is totally something you should always have in the kitchen.


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“ACV” as they call it, has huge amounts of acetic acids. How does it help? Research demonstrates that acetic acids basically destroys infections leading to coughs by killing the pathogens.

Add honey and warm water on you’ll be on your way to giving your body a major recovery boost! 

3. Honey, Just Pure!

If you want a fuss-free alternative, there could not be a simpler option.


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Just feed yourself or your loved ones, some good quality honey a few times a day till your symptoms leave you alone.

It is low-cost and widely available so why not give it a try?

As it is and recommended by the draft mentioned above, honey is a potent remedy on its own!

According to M.D. James M. Steckelberg, he shares that “In one study, children age two and older with upper respiratory tract infections were given up to two teaspoons (10 millilitres) of honey at bedtime. The honey seemed to reduce nighttime coughing and improve sleep.”

To top it all, you can rest easy knowing honey does not expire! And that’s why honey was also known as ” liquid gold” or “liquid of immortality” in Ancient Egypt.


Sources: Mayo Clinic, The Independent

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Written by

Sabrena Jefri

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