Yes, Honey Is a Cheap and Effective Cough Remedy. Here's Why.

Photo credit: yacobchuk - Getty Images
Photo credit: yacobchuk - Getty Images

From Prevention

When grandma fed you a spoonful of honey to help quiet your hacking, she was on to something. That’s right—this age old remedy is more than just an old wives tale. Research and experts alike agree that just a bit of this sticky sweet treat can do a world of good when it comes to taming a cough or soothing a sore throat. Here’s why.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

How does honey help with a cough?

Well, this honeybee creation has built-in anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties. Why is this important when it comes to calming a cough or easing achy, burning throat pain? Because coughing can inflame the throat (which is where those anti-inflammatory powers come in), and certain respiratory issues like whooping cough are caused by bacteria; plus, antioxidants are key to a strong immune system, a necessary component of staying well or recovering from an illness. “It's no wonder so many people rely on this to help with their immunity during cold and flu season,” says Elizabeth Shaw, M.S., R.D.N., registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of

One study review found that honey was better at relieving cough in children than placebo, diphenhydramine (an antihistamine commonly used to treat allergy symptoms such as cough), or no treatment at all. And, research shows that Manuka honey, a variety produced in New Zealand, is particularly powerful, likely because it has higher antibacterial activity. (Try it for yourself!)

How much honey do I take for a cough?

Stirring a spoonful of honey into a cup of hot tea is tried and true, but there are plenty of other ways to harness its good-for-you powers. Try mixing warm water, a little lemon juice, and a bit of honey to taste; not only is warm liquid soothing, honey coats the throat to help ease hacking. Add honey to homemade salad dressing, use it to sweeten oatmeal, or “try a little honey on top of your yogurt or drizzled on top of sweet or savory toasts for an additional immunity boost,” says Shaw.

For more ways to alleviate a lingering cough, go here. And if your cough lasts for more than two weeks, it's time to see a doctor.

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