Sore throats are common and usually nothing to worry about. However, if a person has a sore throat, it can be inconvenient and painful. Honey is a natural remedy that can provide some relief from a sore throat.
Symptoms of a sore throat can include:
- a painful throat, especially when swallowing
- a dry, scratchy throat
- redness in the back of the mouth
- bad breath
- a mild cough
- swollen neck glands
In most cases, sore throats get better within a week. In the meantime, people can use home remedies to alleviate the pain. One such remedy is honey.
This article will discuss the potential benefits of honey, whether or not it works to relieve a sore throat, and some other possible remedies to try.
Honey has a long history as an effective remedy for a sore throat.
However, it is essential that a person does not give honey to a child younger than 1 year old due to the risk of infant botulism. This is a rare but serious form of poisoning, which can occur by ingesting Clostridium botulinum spores in honey products.
How honey works for treating the symptoms of a sore throat is less clear. Most research suggests that it may be due to the antimicrobial and wound healing properties of honey, which may offer pain relief and reduce inflammation.
In fact, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and Public Health England suggest that honey should be the first line of treatment for a cough or sore throat.
There are many reasons that a person may develop a sore throat. Some of the more common causes of sore throat include:
- the common cold or the flu
- glandular fever
- strep throat
- some allergies
- smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
At other times, the cause of a sore throat is not obvious.
As well as using honey for a sore throat, there are many other options a person can look into.
For example, the CDC also recommend the following remedies for a sore throat:
- Gargling with warm, salty water: This may soothe the throat, but children should avoid this method due to the risk of swallowing salt water.
- Drinking plenty of fluids: These can include warm liquids such as broth or herbal teas. The warm fluids can help soothe a sore throat.
- Sucking on ice cubes, popsicles, or lozenges: This may also help soothe the throat, but children should also avoid this method due to the risk of choking.
Other remedies that people can use may include:
As well as being a potential remedy for a sore throat, honey has a wide range of other possible benefits. The following sections will look at these in more detail.
Many people use honey for its antimicrobial properties. One 2019 study notes the antimicrobial potential of honey and suggests that it warrants further investigation.
For example, the study authors say that honey may be more effective than many common antibiotics against bacteria, including methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This suggests that honey could have potential use as an antibiotic against resistant bacteria.
Honey is also known for its potential antioxidant properties. This has seen it become a desirable ingredient in a range of different food products.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, antioxidants are synthetic or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage.
One 2018 study suggests that consuming honey either alone or as part of a combination therapy may provide a natural source of antioxidants.
People have used honey for thousands of years as a remedy in wound care. Although more research is necessary, evidence suggests that honey may play a role in accelerating wound healing.
Indeed, one 2015 review found that honey appeared to heal partial thickness burns more quickly than conventional treatments and that it treated infected postoperative wounds more quickly than antiseptics and gauze.
There is limited evidence to suggest that some honeys may exhibit some anticancer activity.
For example, a 2020 study suggests that Sidr honey may contain anticancer properties. However, more research is necessary before there are practical applications.
Honey can be a great home remedy for a sore throat due to its potential health properties. Healthcare professionals may even suggest using honey as a first line treatment for a sore throat.
Unless a person is allergic to bee pollen, all types of honey are generally safe to use in the small quantities suggested for treating a sore throat.
If a person has a sore throat for longer than a week and it does not seem to be getting better with home remedies, they may wish to consider seeking medical advice.