New guidelines for doctors from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) say they should tell patients to use honey first when they have a cough. This is based on 3 studies that showed honey reduces symptoms by 2 points on a 7 point scale.

Honey and over-the-counter medicines should be the first line of treatment for most people with coughs, new guidelines recommend. 

Antibiotic resistance

This is intended to help tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance. Overusing antibiotics is making infections harder to treat, by creating drug-resistant superbugs. 

A hot drink of milk and honey is a very effective remedy for a sore throat.  And honey can be combined also with lemon and ginger for coughs and a sore throat.  

Patients are advised to use honey and over-the-counter medicines containing pelargonium, guaifenesin or dextromethorphan and wait for symptoms to improve, before going to a GP. 

Most coughs are caused by viruses, which cannot be treated by antibiotics and will clear up on their own. 

Local honey is best

Martin Smith, Director of Communications for the British Beekeepers Association said:

“Honey has been used since ancient times for its medicinal properties. We are very pleased to see that its use in coughs has been proposed for the NICE guidelines to doctors. The benefits of using honey for minor ailments is something that beekeepers have long felt to be the case. Further more, the antiseptic properties of honey have already been recognised by the NHS for wound care.

“Local honey, produced by just straining hive products, has the maximum amount of active ingredients. You can find a beekeeper near you by going to our website and looking for a tab under Services which says Find Beekeeping Near You.”

The consultation on the new guidelines closes on 20 September.