Honey can help you recover from the flu faster – are you surprised that it’s the oldest known antibiotic?

Honey is one of the oldest and most effective natural remedies for respiratory problems. Not only does it alleviate the pain of an inflamed throat and minimize coughing, it can also help a person recover from a serious bout of the flu virus.

Every year, one out of five Americans will catch the flu at least once. The yearly recurrence and seriousness of the viral disease has driven many people to try all kinds of remedies to prevent infection or mitigate its symptoms.

Many researchers have tackled the antiviral and antibacterial properties of honey. A 2014 study by the Kerman University of Medical Sciences (KMU) says that honey exhibits potential as a natural means of treating cold sores.

An earlier study by Syrian researchers in 2007 reports that honey displays strong activity against German measles. And a 2013 paper by a team from the University of Ghent notes that modern hospitals are using it as an ingredient in wound bandage dressings for burns and other injuries.

Other studies indicate that honey is effective at preventing influenza and speeding up recovery. In particular, Manuka honey from Australia and New Zealand is considered the most potent kind of medicinal honey available. (Related: Honey and black cumin found to treat H. Pylori patients.)

Taking hot tea with honey and lemon will help alleviate colds and flu

Honey is known to effectively relieve cough and sore throat – two of the most common symptoms of both the common cold and influenza. There are scientific studies that show its effectiveness in treating coughing fits in children and sore throats in both kids and adults. These results support its traditional use as a cold remedy.

Another natural means of treating both colds and flu is by consuming plenty of hot liquids. Heated drinks reduce the pain of sore throat, help unclog the nose, and reduce the risk of dehydration.

The combination of a cup of hot tea, honey, and lemon is considered an excellent home remedy for flu. It is very delicious, comfortable to drink, and strengthens your body against the disease. As long as the honey is pure and clean, it will work on the flu virus. For best results however, try to use the highly nutritious Manuka honey for treating influenza.

Do be warned that honey is not for everyone. If your baby is less than a year old and sick with the flu, do not give him or her honey.

Prevention is always better

You can avoid influenza in the first place through strict hygiene.

Wash your hands thoroughly on a regular basis. Use soap and water, and spend at least 20 seconds cleaning your hands. However, it is not enough to clean your hands during the times that you are supposed to do so. Washing after using the restroom; before and after preparing and consuming meals; and after you cover your mouth and nose during a sneezing fit are good – but you could do more.

Always wash your hands after touching dirty surfaces that could possibly hold viruses. Potential vectors for infection include computer keyboards, doorknobs, elevator keys, and the hands of other people who probably did not wash as often and as thoroughly as you do.

Bring antibacterial wipes with you whenever you can and use them to disinfect surfaces that might harbor the flu virus and other disease-causing germs. And do take honey every day to enjoy its other health benefits.

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