A sore throat is inflammation of the pharynx or tonsils, it can also be known as pharyngitis or tonsilitis.1
Viral infections are often the cause of a sore throat, and a sore throat can often present alongside other symptoms like nasal congestion.1 A sore throat can also be caused by certain bacteria, but bacterial infections tend to be less common than viral ones.1 Usually a sore throat can be managed at home, and it will often resolve on its own over time. 1
If you are experiencing symptoms that worry you, please contact your doctor for further advice.
Here we’ll look at some more commonly known home remedies using honey and lemon for sore throat and how they can be taken at home.
The Science Behind Honey, Lemon, and Sore Throat Relief
Honey has reportedly been used for thousands of years to help with various ailments.2 Honey was believed by ancient peoples to have special properties, and could help with ailments like digestion, gum health, insomnia, wound healing, coughs as well as sore throat. 2
Today, modern science has discovered honey has around 200 substances within it. 2 Due to various properties like high viscosity (thickness) and low water content, honey can have antimicrobial effects on a range of germs which are known to cause a sore throat. 1-4
Like honey, lemon has also been used by different cultures over time to treat various symptoms such as fever, coughs and even blood pressure. 5 Research efforts have shown lemon also has antimicrobial effects on certain bacteria, viruses and fungi. 5
So you may be wondering if honey is good for sore throat or does honey help a sore throat? Whilst there isn’t direct evidence showing honey and lemon will soothe a sore throat per say, they do offer many benefits for our bodies with the range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other substances.4,6 They have also been reported as something to help relieve a cough. 7 You may want to give them a go while recovering from a sore throat. 7,8
Ways to take Honey & Lemon
Let’s look at some of the ways you can take honey and lemon for sore throat when recovering at home. Taking these will depend on taste and preference and remember, honey shouldn’t be given to children who are less than 12 months old.9
If you choose to try honey or lemon for a sore throat, they are both generally safe to be consumed as-is.7 If taking them in the undiluted form (i.e. straight from the honey container or lemon squeezed directly), they might be too much for some taste buds. For some, honey might be too sweet and if you don’t want to take the whole amount at once, it can be gently and slowly sucked from a spoon. With lemon, it may be too sour or acidic and slowly sipping it from a spoon can be tried. Remember that regular teeth cleaning is also important as honey does contain glucose and fructose.7
In Warm Water or Tea
Warm water or tea can also be taken when one has a sore throat.8 Warm water can help with staying hydrated, whilst for adults, tea can also help with keeping fluids up and possibly provide temporary relief.10 A teaspoon of lemon, honey, or both can also be added to water or tea. 7 If the sore throat is caused by a cold, these drinks might also help relieve a runny nose too. 10
Algorithm for assessing and managing acute sore throat. In: Therapeutic Guidelines [digital]. Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines Limited; May 2022 [cited Oct 2022]. Access from: https://www.tg.org.au
Tahereh Eteraf-Oskouei T & Moslem N. Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2013; 16(6): 731–42
Albaridi NA. Int J Microbiol. 2019; 2019: ID 2464507. doi: 10.1155/2019/2464507
Ahmed S, et al. 2018;2018: ID 8367846. doi: https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/8367846
Klimek-Szczykutowicz, M, et al. Plants (Basel). 2020 Jan; 9(1): 119
Abdulwahid A et al. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2012; 9: 61
Barrett B. Integrative Med. 2018: 170–79.e7.doi: 10.1016/B978-0-323-35868-2.00018-9
Commonwealth of Australia. Department of Health. Sore throat (pharyngitis). March. 2021. [cited August 2022]. Access from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au
NSW Government. NSW Department of Health. Botulism Fact Sheet. Date of last review May 2018 [cited Oct.2022]. Access from: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/
Sanu A & Eccles R. Rhinology. 2008; 46(4):271-5
Commonwealth of Australia. National health and Medical Research Council. Australian Dietary Guidelines. 2013. [cited January 2023]. Access from: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines
This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice.
Always read the label and follow the directions for use.