By Doña Bumgarner, contributing writer.
Honey has been used in health care for hundreds of generations. It is mentioned in historical writings as far back as the Sumerian gets from the 21st century, B.C.
Honey is a humectant, meaning it attracts and retains moisture, and an anti-irritant. Medicinally, honey sweetens and smoothes the swallowing of bitter herbs, as well as providing its own healing powers. Honey salve was historically applied to cuts and wounds. Recent studies have proven that the high sugar concentration prevents bacteria growth and that wounds treated with honey heal faster.
My family uses two honey-based treatments for colds, one a simple lemon tea and one a treatment for sore throats.
Mom’s Magic Throat Coat
When I was little and had a sore throat, my mother would heat up this thick and sticky throat treatment in a small bowl and give it to me with a tiny sugar spoon. The high acid content of the lemon (sometimes she used cider vinegar), means it can only be consumed in tiny sips. The honey coats the throat to ease discomfort and also reduces bacteria. My sore throats always cleared up fast and now I make the concoction for my own family.
- 1 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp raw honey
- juice of 1/2 to 1 whole lemon (as tart as you can stand it!)
Melt butter or oil in a small pan and add the honey. Heat until liquid and combined. Remove from heat, mix in lemon juice and allow to cool just enough not to burn.
Lemon Honey Tea
This soothing cold-care recipe is especially good with Meyer lemons. I drink this a couple of times a day from the first onset of a cold until the symptoms pass. The steam and heat of the tea loosens sinus pressure, the honey helps soothe a sore throat, and the lemon juice and rind provide a little extra Vitamin C to boost your body’s natural immunity. If you add a half shot of whiskey to a cup of this tea drunk just before bed, it is a pretty decent replacement for over-the-counter nighttime cold treatments.
- 1 lemon, washed and cut in half
- 1 tsp raw honey (or to taste)
- boiling water
Juice the lemon into a large mug and drop one half of the lemon rind in, too. Add honey and then pour in boiling water. Mix to combine and serve.
What is your favorite lemon or honey treatment for a cold?