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Honey

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Aug 10, 2023.

Overview

Honey is a sweet fluid made by honeybees using the nectar of flowering plants. There are about 320 different varieties of honey, which vary in color, odor and flavor.

Honey contains mostly sugar, as well as a mix of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, iron, zinc and antioxidants. In addition to its use as a natural sweetener, honey is used as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial agent. People commonly use honey orally to treat coughs and topically to treat burns and promote wound healing.

What the research says

Research on honey for specific conditions includes:

Results might vary because there are no standardized methods for producing honey or verifying its quality.

Our take

Generally safe

Honey is generally safe in adults and children older than age 1. It might be helpful in treating burns, coughs and possibly other conditions.

Safety and side effects

Honey is likely safe for use as a natural sweetener, cough suppressant, and topical product for minor sores and wounds.

Avoid giving honey — even a tiny taste — to babies under the age of 1 year. Honey can cause a rare but serious gastrointestinal condition (infant botulism) caused by exposure to Clostridium botulinum spores. Bacteria from the spores can grow and multiply in a baby's intestines, producing a dangerous toxin.

Some people are sensitive or allergic to specific components in honey, particularly bee pollen. Although rare, bee pollen allergies can cause serious, and sometimes fatal, adverse reactions. Signs and symptoms of a reaction include:

Honey might affect blood sugar levels.

Interactions

There's currently no evidence to show how honey might interact with other drugs.

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