Effectiveness of Honey for Symptomatic Relief in Upper Respiratory Tract Infections: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Hibatullah Abuelgasim et al.

What is already known about this subject?

  • Honey is a well known lay therapy for symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs); other medications for URTIs are ineffective and can have harmful side effects
  • The use of antibiotics for URTIs is a particular problem, because they are ineffective, and contribute to antimicrobial resistance
  • A Cochrane systematic review found that honey can improve cough in children; honey has not been systematically reviewed for other URTI symptoms, or in other patient groups

What are the new findings?

  • Honey is more effective than usual care alternatives for improving URTI symptoms, particularly cough frequency and cough severity
  • Comparisons with placebo are more limited, and require more high quality, placebo controlled trials

How might it impact on clinical practice in the foreseeable future?

  • There are currently very few effective options that clinicians can prescribe for URTIs
  • Honey can be used as an alternative to antibiotics by clinicians who wish to offer treatment for URTIs, which may help to combat antimicrobial resistance

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