Honey Bees Get an “A” For Upper Respiratory Infections

Honey is more effective than many other natural remedies for upper respiratory tract infections, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis in British Medical Journal’s (BMJ) Evidence Based Medicine.

Researchers examined data from 14 randomized trials comparing honey with placebo or various usual-care remedies in patients with upper respiratory tract infections (which are almost viral infections). Among the findings:

  • 2 of 3 studies comparing honey with placebo showed a beneficial effect on combined symptoms.
  • Honey was superior to usual care for improving cough severity, cough frequency, and combined symptoms.
  • When usual-care remedies were examined separately, honey outperformed diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and was similar to dextromethorphan (Delsym, DayQuil, Robitussin).

The researchers conclude: “When clinicians wish to prescribe for [upper respiratory infections], we would recommend honey as an alternative to antibiotics. Honey is more effective and less harmful than usual care alternatives and avoids causing harm through antimicrobial resistance.”

I am deeply disappointed that the mainstream medical establishment has been so sluggish in adopting drastic measures to curb the overuse of antibiotics. We’ve done this for opiate prescribing, yet the risk to society from antibiotic resistance is no less critical. The only real difference is that millions of people are dying at present from the opiate epidemic, while morbidity and mortality from bacterial infections will only become a public health crisis in the future IF we do not act today in a similarly dramatic fashion. In other words, the damage done today by antibiotic overprescribing will have an impact in the future potentially of greater consequence than the present opiate crisis.

For the record, it is worthwhile for all of us to avoid unnecessary or excessive antibiotic treatment, not only as a way to protect the efficacy of that specific antibiotic for other people, but also as a way to ensure that the same antibiotic will continue to work for us. Each time you take a specific antibiotic you run the risk that the antibiotic may not work as well for you in the future, as resistance increases within your own body.

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Justin Groode MD | Patient Advocate Alliance, LLC

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