HealthDay News — For upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), honey seems superior to usual care, according to a review and meta-analysis published online Aug. 18 in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine.

Hibatullah Abuelgasim, from Oxford University Medical School in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the effectiveness of honey for symptomatic relief in URTIs. A total of 1,345 unique records were identified and 14 studies were included.

The researchers found a moderate risk for bias overall. Honey improved the combined symptom score (three studies: mean difference, −3.96; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], −5.42 to −2.51), cough frequency (eight studies: standardized mean difference [SMD], −0.36; 95 percent CI, −0.50 to −0.21), and cough severity (five studies: SMD, −0.44; 95 percent CI, −0.64 to −0.25) compared with usual care. In two studies comparing honey to placebo, combined symptoms were relieved (SMD −0.63; 95 percent CI, −1.44 to 0.18).

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“Honey is a frequently used lay remedy that is well known to patients. It is also cheap, easy to access and has limited harms,” the authors write. “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.”

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