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A Brief Guide to Using Honey for a Sore Throat|woman holding sore throat in pain|raw honey in a glass jar|doctor feeling patients throat

Health & Wellness

Tips for Using Honey as a Remedy for Sore Throats

Sore throats can be caused by bacterial or viral infections. Most sore throats are associated with colds or the flu, but sometimes they can be a sign of another infection or even an allergy. Your throat could also be irritated if you are a smoker, or if you have had a long-running cough from some other health issue.

Treating sore throats can be tricky. Doctors used to prescribe antibiotics as a matter of course, but not all throat infections are caused by bacterial infections. Because of this, doctors are moving away from the regular prescription of antibiotics in order to reduce the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria breeding. Today, honey is popular as a home remedy for a lot of milder sicknesses, and it is something that many health care professionals would recommend for sore throats. 1

woman holding sore throat in pain

Let Nature Take Its Course

If you have a sore throat, but otherwise do not feel too unwell or think you just have a cold, then it is well worth using self-care techniques such as drinking lots of water, using honey and using essential oils such as peppermint to ease your symptoms.

The human body is incredibly sophisticated and is capable of healing very well by itself, so instead of relying on antibiotics when you don’t have a bacterial infection, it makes sense to relieve the symptoms of a sore throat and work to support your immune system so that you won’t get sick in the future. Luckily, honey is great for offering these benefits.

raw honey in a glass jar

Using Honey to Soothe Your Throat

Honey is a natural antibacterial, and it can work as a cough suppressant as well. You can soothe your sore throat with honey by mixing two tablespoons of honey into a glass of warm water or some green tea. Drink this throughout the day whenever your throat feels sore. 2

Be aware, however, that while honey has antibacterial properties, it is not advisable to give it to infants under the age of 1 year old. The botulinum bacteria can grow in honey, causing fatal poisoning in younger people who have weak immune systems. 3

Other Treatments for a Sore Throat

Honey is just one option for treating sore throats. If you are vegan or do not want to use honey for other reasons, then you might want to consider other treatments, such as gargling warm salt water. This works because it clears out the throat. You should not actually swallow the salt water, of course, but some salt will end up being ingested incidentally. 4

Another option for treating throat pain is cinnamon, which is an anti-microbial agent that can help reduce inflammation and pain. The fact that it tastes great is a big help. If you are planning on taking painkillers, be sure to read the labels carefully. Don't double up on different brands without getting advice from a pharmacist or doctor first, in case they have the same active ingredients. 5

doctor feeling patients throat

When to See a Doctor

Most sore throats should resolve themselves within a few days. See a doctor if: 6

  • Your sore throat lasts for more than a few days

  • You are having difficulty swallowing (beyond normal pain) or breathing

  • Your face or neck is very swollen

  • You have a fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit

  • You have a lump in your neck

  • Your sore throat is accompanied by earache

  • You experience hoarseness that lasts for more than two weeks

  • You have a rash on your skin

Preventing Sore Throats

Sore throats can be incredibly unpleasant, and as the saying goes, sometimes prevention can be better than cure. If you are prone to suffering from sore throats, then you might want to try some preventative measures.

For instance, change your toothbrush every month, and if you do get a sore throat, throw your old toothbrush away so that you don't end up getting reinfected. Try to limit your consumption of alcohol (which can suppress your immune system). Some people swear by using honey as a preventative just as much as a treatment—a spoonful of honey each day could help boost your immune system and stave off coughs and colds.

Overall, eating a healthy diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables is good practice and will help bolster your body's natural defenses. Try to get into the habit of washing your hands regularly, avoid smoking (and exposing yourself to second-hand smoke), and mostly stay indoors on days when there is a lot of outdoor pollution.

Even with those measures, sometimes a sore throat will strike, and usually, all you can really do is wait it out. The good news is that a great remedy good be sitting right in your pantry.

Photo credits: puhhha/, showcake/, Popartic/, OksanaShufrych/

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