August 26, 2022

Oh Honey – The Health Benefits and Risks

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Why does a spoonful of honey seem to work every time?

A spoonful of honey in a warm cup of water is sometimes the perfect remedy for a sore throat. But, why does this seem to work?  Honey has a history of natural medicinal use to treat many issues such as cardiovascular disease, cough, gastrointestinal disease, neurological disease, and wound care (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Honey is filled with antioxidants and contains antimicrobial properties, meaning it kills organisms like bacteria and fungus. For these reasons, honey is used as a wound healing agent. The properties in honey stimulate an immune system response and cause the white blood cells to release a compound around the wound to start tissue repair (Samarghandian, 2017).

Honey can treat more than just skin cuts; some people successfully use honey to treat skin burns as well. Some research points to honey as a helpful treatment for diabetes patients. Honey consumption led to lower blood sugar and blood lipid (fat) in type 2 diabetic patients (Samarghandian, 2017). 

Many of us have experienced the benefits of honey soothing a sore throat. Formal research also found that treatment with honey improved cold symptoms, such as cough frequency and severity, and shortened the duration of these symptoms (Harvard Health, 2020). Maybe a spoonful of honey is the perfect treatment for a cold. 


Honey is a natural and often harmless treatment for most people, but there are a few risks. Honey should not be given to children under the age of one due to the risk of infant botulism. Additionally, many people suffer from bee allergies and have no issues consuming honey. A small group of people do have bee pollen allergies, which may cause adverse reactions when consuming honey. The following are symptoms of a possible allergic reaction (Mayo Clinic, 2020):

  • Wheezing and other asthmatic symptoms
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Fainting
  • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Stinging after topical application

Always talk to your doctor before starting any new medications or treatments. 

It’s Fetch is a community that provides a safe space for members to discuss health and wellness topics. We provide access to archived health related content, note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content shared, regardless of date should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. 

-Written by Sabrina Park MPH

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