Honey drinks could be a tasty cold remedy

If you’re feeling under the weather, something as simple and accessible as honey could be a tasty remedy.

New research from scientists at the University of Oxford suggests honey might be better than usual care for easing upper respiratory tract symptoms (URTIs), including a sore throat, cough, blocked nose and congestion.

Read more: How to soothe a sore throat

Usual care was mostly antihistamines, expectorants, cough suppressants, and painkillers, noted the researchers.

The study leads say honey could be a more effective alternative to antibiotics, often prescribed for URTIs, even though the majority of them are viral.

The research was published in the journal BMJ Evidence Based Medicine, with the authors writing: “Honey is a frequently used lay remedy that is well known to patients. It is also cheap, easy to access, and has limited harms. When clinicians wish to prescribe for URTI, 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.”

Read more: Healing powers of honey

With their natural sweetness, honey spiked drinks often don’t even taste that medicinal. Here are a few throat-soothing ones to try.

With water and lemon

Honey, hot water and lemon is a classic combination, and there’s a reason doctors often prescribe it to patients. When you’ve got a cough and your vocal cords are sore, warm water is less irritating to drink than cold, the honey soothes, and the lemon offers the added bonus of a vitamin C hit.

In tea
Even if you don’t have a sore throat, honey is a healthier alternative to sweetening your tea with sugar. A full-bodied black tea can be brought to life with a squirt of honey – plus, black tea is full of antioxidants.

With turmeric
You might be more used to adding turmeric to curries and other savoury dishes, but it can lend a golden glow to any beverage, plus has anti-inflammatory benefits. If you’re looking for a specific recipe that pairs turmeric and honey, try this one.

  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon organic raw honey
  • 1 peppercorn crushed
  • 3 cups (750ml) purified water warm
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Put the honey and turmeric into a jar and whisk with a spoon to obtain a creamy mixture. Add the crushed peppercorn and stir to incorporate. Divide the mixture into mugs and add equal amounts of warm water and lemon juice. Stir to incorporate and serve warm, on an empty stomach. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Read more: Can turmeric improve your health?

With ginger
Ginger and honey are a match made in heaven. Either add a squeeze of honey to ginger tea or make your own concoction by boiling water with sliced fresh ginger. It’s great waking up to a cup, or winding down with one before bed.

With warm orange juice and spices

If you’re looking for a more adventurous concoction, why not try this recipe, combining freshly squeezed orange juice with cloves, cinnamon and star anise. A squirt of honey will cut through the sharpness of the vitamin C rich orange juice.

  • 1 cup (250ml) of orange juice, freshly squeezed is best
  • 1/8 (30 ml) cup water
  • 3 tablespoons raw, local honey
  • dash of powdered ginger
  • 2 fresh cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise


Put everything but the honey in a small saucepan. Heat until hot but not boiling. Stir in the honey until it dissolves. Serve and enjoy.

Do you drink honey lemon tea? What’s your go-to remedy for a cold?

– With PA

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