Is honey and lemon good for a cough?

Is honey and lemon good for a cough?

Coughs and sore throats are something we all experience from time to time. We may catch the common cold or flu a couple of times a year, particularly during the winter, and some lifestyle habits can also have an impact on our throat and chest health, such as smoking and drinking caffeine. While many people turn to medication, such as decongestants and paracetamol, to fight the infection or reduce the pain, there are some more natural substances that can be used, including honey and lemon. But does honey and lemon really work and, if so, how?

What does honey and lemon do?

Honey could potentially be one of the oldest edible substances on our planet. This sweet syrup was offered to the gods by the Greeks and Romans and there are 8,000-year-old cave drawings that show honey being collected from hives. It is so special because it contains many natural properties that can help to fight infection and reduce swelling which, when combined with lemon, can help to fight a cough and a sore throat[1].

Why does lemon help a sore throat?

A sore throat that’s accompanied by a cough is often caused by excess mucus in the throat and chest. Our bodies naturally produce mucus, however when we have an infection such as a cold, the body produces more to help fight the virus. Lemon is very good at breaking down this mucus, loosening it up so that we can expel it more easily[2]. Once the mucus starts to clear up, you may find that your sore throat and cough improves too. Lemon is also a natural anaesthetic, meaning it can help to numb the pain in your throat as well. This is often why it’s often found in cough medicines and throat lozenges.

Why does honey help a cough?

Honey has slightly different benefits to lemon, but this is why these two substances make such a good team when you put them together. While lemon is an anaesthetic, honey is antimicrobial and an anti-inflammatory, meaning it can fight infection and reduce swelling. It’s thought that its thick, smooth texture creates a protective barrier on the lining of your throat that can soothe a cough for some time and not just short term. The NHS agrees that hot lemon with honey can have the same effect as taking cough medicine (and we know which we’d rather drink). Honey can be given to children too, if they don’t like the taste of cough syrup, however you shouldn’t give it to children under 12 months[1].

How to make a honey and lemon drink

As well as taking honey and lemon throat lozenges, you can try making a honey and lemon drink at home to soothe a sore throat or ease a cough. All you have to do is boil the kettle and pour the hot water into a mug, just like you would when making a cup of tea. Then, squeeze half a lemon into the water and add one or two teaspoons of honey. Stir it well and drink it while it’s warm. If you’re not so keen on lemon but have fruit teas at home, you can make a fruit tea instead and simply add the honey to that. Alternatively, you can eat the honey by the teaspoonful or spread it on a slice of bread. The options are almost endless.