How does honey help a cough?

Immune System Expert
Ask Dr. Jen Tan

02 January 2020

How does honey help?

In late 2018 new guidelines were published regarding the treatment of coughs. Together, Public Health England (PHE) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended the use of honey to treat coughs over antibiotics and other conventional medicines. 

These health boards state that honey could reduce the severity and frequency of a cough.1 They also state that honey could reduce the severity of an acute cough when it is the result of an upper respiratory tract infection. An acute cough is one that persists for a short period of time - usually days or weeks rather than months. 

As honey is a thick, sticky and moist substance, it forms a kind of barrier to soothe and protect the throat.2 This is the main reason it is so beneficial for those suffering from a cough. 

However, if you are suffering from a persistent cough that has lasted more than 3 weeks then, rather than turning to honey, you should consult your doctor for advice.

Where’s the evidence?

Before publishing their recommendations for natural cough treatments, NICE and PHE looked at various scientific studies on the topic. This included an examination of randomised controlled trials as these allow for easy comparison of different treatments. The results showed that honey was much more effective at easing a cough than taking no action. 

Who can use honey for a cough?

If you feel the onset of a cough as a result of a cold or flu, honey may also be a beneficial way to ease symptoms. When the cough is part of a more serious underlying condition, however, or if you are at risk of complications as a result of a weakened immune system, you should consult your doctor. 

It is also really important to note that honey is not suitable for children under the age of 1 because there is a risk of botulism.

Treating your cough with honey

A homemade honey remedy:
1) Boil 300ml of water
2) Pour the water into a mug and leave to cool for a few minutes
3) Add 2 tablespoons of good quality honey to the water
4) Squeeze in a little lemon

The remedy above is a simple way to treat coughs but another natural option could be our Bronchosan Cough syrup. This contains honey, thus helping to bring some of the benefits I've listed above, alongside extracts of freshly harvested pine shoots.Together these ingredients help to relieve dry, tickly and irritating coughs.

Unlike many conventional cough medicines, Bronchosan is non-drowsy and has a subtle, sweet taste thanks to the addition of honey.

My Top Tip:

Take 5-10ml (1-2 teaspoons) two to four times daily. I recommend taking this product for a week and if you don't feel any better, or your symptoms worsen, speak to your doctor.

"The Bronchosan cough syrup helped us to heal a very stubborn dry cough."

Read more customer reviews

Other ways to treat a cough

Alongside a homemade honey cough remedy, there are a number of other natural ways to treat a cough. Drinking plenty of water, for example, soothes the throat, thus helping to ease any irritation there. Steam can also be a good way to re-hydrate a dry respiratory system so herbal teas and warm baths can also be of benefit to those with a bad cough. 

Another option is our soothing Cough Spray which contains the herbs mullein and marshmallow. This is particularly helpful if it is a dry, tickly cough you’re suffering from as it coats the throat to ease irritation.

When it comes to addressing a troublesome cough, unfortunately antibiotics are not the answer. This is because most coughs are caused by a virus which will not respond to antibiotics.

If we take antibiotics when they are not necessary, it will also fuel antibiotic resistance. This means the medication will not be as effective as it was in the past. If we are then unable to find an alternative to antibiotics, what were once simple conditions and procedures could become more hazardous.

In light of this, natural cough remedies including honey and our mullein and marshmallow spray are more important than ever! 


Originally written 9 April 2019 (updated 2 January 2020) 




What you said!

We recently ran a poll to find out which honey cough remedy you are most likely to use. We've crunched the numbers and here are the results.

Results: Which honey cough remedy are you most likely to use?

84.9% of you said that the honey cough remedy you are most likely to use is honey in a hot drink. Great choice! A honey hot drink is not only soothing on a sore throat, it also provides medicinal and healing properties.

Bronchosan - Pine Cough Syrup for dry, tickly, irritating coughs


£ 10.99

find your local stockist

Extract of fresh spruce (pine) shoots and honey. For dry, tickly and irritating coughs.
More info

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Here’s what I recommend

As the A. Vogel Immune System expert, I recommend Bronchosan Pine Cough Syrup to help ease the symptoms of coughs.

Learn more

Did you know?

A tickly cough is technically termed as ‘non-productive.’ This is because, unlike a chesty cough, tickly or dry coughs typically bring up little to no phlegm.

What type of cough do you have?

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