Honey for a Sore Throat: Is it an Effective Remedy?
Honey may help relieve symptoms of a sore throat. It has multiple therapeutic properties, including as an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory.
The short answer is yes, honey can bring relief for your sore throat. Simply mix two tablespoons of honey with a warm glass of water or tea, and drink as needed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends using honey if your sore throat is accompanied by a cough.
However, honey should not be given to infants under 1 year old. Honey can carry bacteria, such as Clostridium botulinum, which can be especially dangerous for babies.
Honey as Medication
Honey has been celebrated since ancient times for its health and therapeutic abilities. It has been the focus of much medical research, including a 2018 review in the scientific journal Molecules recognizing honey’s:
- Antioxidant properties
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Antimicrobial capacity
- Anticancer activity
- Antiviral properties
- Antifungal properties
- Antidiabetic properties
Honey is also used to dress wounds. According to a 2013 journal article, when compared with conventional treatments, it has almost equal or slightly superior effects for superficial partial thickness burns and acute wounds.
Be aware that honey can cause an allergic reaction, according to a 2017 case report. But an allergic reaction to honey is very rare.
Raw Honey vs. Pasteurized
When reading labels, you will find that most of the honey available in the supermarket has been pasteurized. The high heat of pasteurization can:
- Improve the color and texture
- Kill unwanted yeast
- Remove crystallization
- Extend shelf life
The pasteurization process can also destroy many of the beneficial nutrients. Raw honey is typically only strained prior to packaging, retaining most of the beneficial nutrients.
Other Sore Throat Remedies
A variety of other home remedies can help relieve your sore throat, including:
- Salt Water. A salt water gargle is an effective way to kill bacteria, ease pain, and loosen mucus. Consider gargling a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 8 ounces of warm water.
- Baking Soda. A salt water gargle is more common, but gargling baking soda mixed with salt water can help kill bacteria and prevent the growth of yeast and fungi. The National Cancer Institute recommends gargling a combination of 1 cup warm water, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt.
- Lemon Juice. Lemons can provide pain relief and break up mucus, plus they’re high in vitamin C. Consider drinking 8 ounces of warm water with one teaspoon of lemon juice mixed in.
- Cayenne Pepper or Hot Sauce. Cayenne pepper is high in capsaicin, which has pain relief properties. Consider gargling with 8 ounces warm water mixed with honey and a light sprinkle of cayenne or a few drops of hot sauce.
- Humidifier. Particularly during winter, dry air can cause a sore throat. Consider adding one or two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide or vapor rub to the water used in the humidifier.
A variety of teas can also ease your sore throat by relieving pain, reducing inflammation, or fighting bacteria. This includes:
- Peppermint tea
- Raspberry tea
- Chamomile tea
- Green tea
- Clove tea
Honey can also be mixed in the warm tea to add additional soothing effect.
When to See Your Doctor
If home remedies like honey do not seem to be helping, see your doctor for a diagnosis. You could be experiencing a serious illness if your sore throat is accompanied by:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Inability to drink fluids
You should always consult with your physician or other health care professional before taking any nutritional, herbal remedies or adopting any health advice, whether offered on the Site or otherwise.