Honey for asthma: How does it work?

Honey is a common home remedy for coughing and a sore throat, and it may reduce these symptoms in people with asthma.

Below, we explore the research behind using honey for asthma. We also describe the risks involved.

Does honey treat asthma symptoms?

It appears that honey may have some benefits for people with asthma. It may be especially effective at controlling coughing.

Honey increases saliva production. As saliva lubricates the airways and reduces irritation in the throat, a cough can diminish.

Honey also has anti-inflammatory properties and may decrease the swelling of the airways that accompanies asthma.

The health department of the University of California, Los Angeles recommends that adults take 2 teaspoons of honey at bedtime to reduce coughing.

Evidence has not supported other theories about honey as a treatment for asthma.

For example, some proponents of honey for asthma claim that this method may help to desensitize an individual to pollen. Pollen is a common allergen that can trigger asthma attacks.

Honey may help to ease some symptoms of asthma, but honey alone cannot manage asthma effectively.

Additional treatments may include:

Decreasing exposure to allergens

Asthma is closely associated with allergies. In some instances, coming into contact with an allergen can trigger asthma symptoms.

Identifying allergens can help a person to avoid future exposure. For example, a person with a pollen allergy should limit the time they spend outdoors and close their windows on days when the pollen count is high.

Not smoking

Smoking is especially harmful to people with asthma. Smoking damages the cilia, which are hair-like fibers in the airway.

People with asthma already have sensitive airways, and damage sustained by smoking can make breathing even more difficult.

Using an inhaler

To treat symptoms that arise suddenly, people often use inhalers containing a bronchodilator. These medications relax the tightened muscles in the airways, making breathing easier.

Some asthma inhalers contain medicines developed to prevent asthma symptoms.

A doctor may prescribe long-term bronchodilators and corticosteroid inhalers for daily use to keep asthma symptoms at bay.


A little honey may help to ease coughing in children and adults with asthma, but it should not be given to infants.

Research does not indicate that honey is an alternative to asthma medications.

Honey can be purchased in many grocery stores, health food stores, and online.

Anyone noticing asthma symptoms should talk with a doctor. Effective treatments are available.

Asthma attacks can be severe, and it is essential to follow a plan prescribed by a doctor.

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