Bowl with honey stick and pine cones on rustic table
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Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Article Abstracts
Mar 09, 2023

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Will Honey Help Your Sore Throat and Cough?

Article Abstracts
Apr 20, 2024

Honey is an age-old natural remedy to soothe a sore throat and cough—but does it actually work? Family medicine physician Elizabeth Rainbolt, MD says yes.

How Honey Works

“Research shows that honey has some antimicrobial and anti-inflammation properties. Honey can help by decreasing inflammation and irritation in your throat,” explains Dr. Rainbolt. “Another study shows that honey may reduce mucus secretion. So, you can use honey for cough symptoms as well, whether it’s a wet or dry cough.”

How to Use Honey for Sore Throat and Cough

Adults can take a spoonful (about one teaspoon) of honey for a cough and sore throat. The same amount can be diluted in herbal tea or warm water with lemon for adults and children over the age of one. This can be repeated up to four or five times daily.

Honey has been shown to work as well as some cough medications, and doesn’t come with side effects that many over-the-counter cold medications have, such as drowsiness. Honey is also helpful for those who can’t take traditional cold medications, such as people with health conditions like high blood pressure or heart disease, or children under the age of six.

Pasteurized honey will have a longer shelf life than raw (unpasteurized) honey, and any crystallization and yeast will have been removed during the pasteurization process. Dr. Rainbolt also mentions that using local honey, which is often raw, can come with extra benefits. “There’s a thought that if you use local honey, you are exposed to some of the area’s natural allergens in a positive way,” she explains. “The idea is that it will help with allergies you have.”

Make sure not to give honey to children under the age of one. Although it’s a rare occurrence, honey can contain spores that cause botulism, a serious illness that attacks the body’s nervous system.

Honey is an effective natural alternative to more conventional options for sore throat and cough. Try it as a first line of defense the next time a sore throat or cough strikes.


Cleveland Clinic. (2023, February 13). Honey for your sore throat and cough.

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