manuka honey for cough

Can Manuka Honey Help With a Respiratory Infection?

As the fall and winter seasons approach, respiratory infections become more common due to low humidity and increased contact with others. These infections, such as the common cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia, can be inconvenient and detrimental to our health. However, there may be a natural remedy that can help combat these infections – Manuka honey.

What is a Respiratory Infection?

A respiratory infection is an infection that affects the body parts involved in breathing, including the throat, sinuses, lungs, and airways. These infections can be caused by viruses or bacteria and can result in symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, sore throat, muscle aches, wheezing, headaches, fever, and a stuffy or runny nose. While many respiratory infections can resolve on their own without treatment, some may require medical attention.

Types of Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections can be classified into two main categories: upper respiratory infections and lower respiratory infections.

A. Upper Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory infections primarily affect the throat and sinuses. Common upper respiratory infections include the common cold, sinusitis, tonsillitis, and laryngitis.

  1. Common Cold: The common cold is caused by viruses that inflame the nose and throat membranes. It is spread through airborne droplets or direct contact with a sick person. Symptoms of the common cold include a blocked or runny nose, sore throat, coughing, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, and loss of taste and smell.

  2. Sinusitis: Sinusitis is the swelling of the sinuses caused by a viral or bacterial infection. It occurs when there is fluid buildup in the sinuses, creating a favorable environment for germs to grow. Symptoms of sinusitis include a blocked or runny nose, sore throat, bad breath, cough, sinus headache, and reduced sense of smell.

  3. Tonsillitis: Tonsillitis is the infection of the tonsils located at the back of the throat. It is commonly caused by viruses that cause the flu and cold, but it can also be caused by bacteria. Symptoms of tonsillitis include a sore throat, pain when swallowing, fever, coughing, and headache.

  4. Laryngitis: Laryngitis is the inflammation of the voice box or vocal cords in the throat. It can result from irritation, overuse, or a viral infection. Symptoms of laryngitis include voice loss, sore throat, dry throat, hoarse voice, dry cough, and itchy throat.

B. Lower Respiratory Infections

Lower respiratory infections primarily affect the lungs and airways. Common lower respiratory infections include bronchitis, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and cystic fibrosis.

  1. Bronchitis: Bronchitis is an infection that causes inflammation of the main lung airways. It is usually caused by viruses that also cause the common cold and flu. Symptoms of bronchitis include a sore throat, headache, runny or blocked nose, muscle aches, and a general feeling of tiredness.

  2. Bronchiolitis: Bronchiolitis is a chest infection that commonly affects children under the age of two. It is caused by a viral infection, most commonly the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Symptoms of bronchiolitis include sneezing, coughing, blocked or runny nose, mild fever, wheezing, becoming irritable, difficulty feeding, and shallow, quick breathing.

  3. Pneumonia: Pneumonia is a bacterial or viral infection that causes inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs. It can result in symptoms such as fever, chills, cough with phlegm, difficulty breathing, chest pains, and rapid heartbeat. Pneumonia can be caused by various bacteria and viruses, including Streptococcus pneumoniae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

  4. Cystic Fibrosis: Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition that affects the lungs and digestive system. It is caused by a faulty gene that leads to the buildup of sticky mucus in the airways, making it difficult to breathe and increasing the risk of respiratory infections. Symptoms of cystic fibrosis include wheezing, frequent chest infections, difficulty adding weight, coughing, trouble with bowel movements, and infertility in men.

How Can Manuka Honey Help with Respiratory Infections?

Manuka honey has been found to possess certain properties that may help prevent and manage respiratory infections, particularly due to its unique chemical composition.

1. Anti-Viral Properties

Manuka honey has strong antiviral properties that have been demonstrated in several research studies. It has been shown to have inhibitory effects against influenza viruses, including resistant strains. These antiviral properties make Manuka honey a potential natural remedy for preventing and managing respiratory infections caused by viruses. However, it is important to note that Manuka honey should not replace medical treatment, and consulting a doctor is always recommended.

2. Antibacterial Properties

Manuka honey is known for its high antibacterial activity, primarily due to the presence of a unique compound called methylglyoxal. This compound gives Manuka honey its antibacterial properties and makes it effective against a wide range of bacteria. Research has shown that Manuka honey can inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause respiratory infections, including bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. This makes it a potential complementary treatment option for managing respiratory infections caused by bacteria.

Using Manuka Honey for Respiratory Infections

Manuka honey can be used in various ways to help prevent and manage respiratory infections:

  • Preventative Measure: Consuming 1-2 teaspoons of Manuka honey per day can provide immune support and help prevent respiratory infections. It can be consumed directly from the jar, added to water with lemon or ginger, or used to sweeten plain yogurt.

  • Defensive Measure: At the onset of respiratory infection symptoms, consuming 2-3 teaspoons of Manuka honey per day may help manage symptoms and promote healing. It can also be used to soothe a sore throat by coating the throat with a teaspoon of Manuka honey. Additionally, diluting one teaspoon of Manuka honey in a saline solution (distilled water) and using it as a sinus rinse can help alleviate sinus congestion. Adding Manuka honey to a ginger and lemon drink can also provide relief.


Manuka honey has been found to possess antiviral and antibacterial properties that may help prevent and manage respiratory infections. Its unique chemical composition, including the presence of methylglyoxal, contributes to its effectiveness against viruses and bacteria. While Manuka honey can be used as a natural remedy to complement conventional medicine, it should not replace medical treatment. Consulting a doctor is always recommended for proper diagnosis and treatment of respiratory infections. Using Manuka honey as a preventative measure and as a defensive measure at the onset of symptoms may help mitigate symptoms and promote healing. Incorporating Manuka honey into your daily routine during the fall and winter seasons may provide immune support and help keep respiratory infections at bay.

Note: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment or making any changes to your existing treatment plan.

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