Is Honey The New “Antibiotic?”




By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder 


With the current threat of COVID-19, there really hasn’t been a lot of discussion about other respiratory tract infections. Respiratory disease in general has been a threat to global health for quite some time.

“Acute respiratory [tract] infections are a major cause of global morbidity and mortality,” according to one source.

There are two basic categories of acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs): upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs).

“The upper respiratory tract consists of the airways from the nostrils to the vocal cords in the larynx, including the paranasal sinuses and the middle ear,” according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“The lower respiratory tract covers the continuation of the airways from the trachea and bronchi to the bronchioles and the alveoli.”

COVID-19 can potentially affect both the upper and lower respiratory tracts, but something like the common cold is usually just an upper respiratory tract infection. Pneumonia and bronchitis are lower respiratory tract infections. And as you likely already know, pneumonia is a possible complication that can develop after contracting COVID-19.

We have to be proactive about all respiratory tract infections.

We have to think about other respiratory tract infections, especially with cold and flu season quickly approaching.

And, sometimes colds and flus just happen. When they do, we want to have the best remedy available to us. With viral infections, unfortunately, antibiotics are useless. In the case of bacterial infections, antibiotics are usually available, however, our long-term use (and oftentimes overuse) of antibiotics has caused many harmful pathogens to become resistant to these medications.

At pH Labs we always stress that healthy food is medicine. And Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

According to recent research, honey may be quite the medicine.

Recently, researchers at Oxford University tested a variety of treatments for upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). As mentioned, antibiotic resistance is a major concern.

Honey has been used for thousands of years.

“Of particular concern are antibacterial prescriptions written for maladies that they are not likely to help, simply due to demands from patients,” according to this recent Medical Xpress report discussing the research.

“One such case is often URTIs, the vast majority of which are caused by viruses, not bacteria.”

Honey has been used for thousands of years to help soothe sore throats and tame colds. There’s a reason why you put honey in your tea when you don’t feel well or why the cough drops you buy at your local pharmacy may have honey in them. 

And in this new study, the researchers examined the results of several clinical trials that tested how well certain remedies for URTIs worked. They looked at information from 14 clinical trials involving 1,761 patients.

“In analyzing the data from all of the trials combined, the researchers found that the trials had included studies of virtually all of the traditional remedies such as over-the-counter cold and sinus medicines as well as antibiotics—and honey,” reports Medical Xpress.

“They found that honey proved to be the best therapy among all of those tested.”

Specifically, honey was the most effective at treating coughing (36 percent better at reducing the amount of coughing and 44 percent better at reducing coughing severity). Honey even led to more reduced days of infection (on average a reduction of two days from infection duration).

“The researchers note that the reason honey works as a treatment for URTIs is because it contains hydrogen peroxide—a known bacteria killer—which also makes it useful as a topical treatment for cuts and scrapes. Honey is also of the right consistency—its thickness works to coat the mouth and throat, soothing irritation.”

I have previously discussed some of the benefits of honey and how raw honey may be a good topical treatment for wounds.

“The healing property of honey is due to the fact that it offers antibacterial activity, maintains a moist wound condition, and its high viscosity helps to provide a protective barrier to prevent infection,” according to the National Institutes for Health (NIH).

The NIH also reports that honey has an inhibitory effect on around 60 species of bacteria.

Please be aware that this all doesn’t mean that honey is a cure all to everything, and it certainly doesn’t mean that honey is a cure for COVID-19. It is, however, nice to know that there may be natural remedies out there for reducing how long you may be sick and how severe the symptoms may be (especially because so many prescription medications are losing their effectiveness due to resistance).

As always, seek the advice of a competent healthcare professional to see if honey is safe for you to have in moderation, especially if you have any existing health issues or are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is also not recommended to give honey to children under 12 months. And with any child, I highly recommend talking to a pediatrician first.

For information on how to boost your immune system as we approach cold and flu season, check out these pH Labs blogs.


Enjoy your healthy life!


Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.


The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.  


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