Finally the scientists catch up with what us avid apiarists (beekeepers to you and me) have long since been convinced of - that honey 'beats antibiotics' for curing coughs or colds. It is another feather in the cap for us passionate small—scale suppliers of raw local honey.
Experts at Oxford University have found that honey, nature’s ‘nectar of the Gods’ is a more effective treatment for coughs, sore throats and common colds than antibiotics. Overall, honey was found to be ‘superior’ at relieving coughs, sore throats and congestion – and unlike other medications it had no harmful side effects. Honey was on average 36 per cent more effective at reducing cough frequency than common medications and it cut cough severity by 44 per cent more.
Their review compared the effectiveness of honey against cough suppressants, antihistamines and painkillers when treating upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) symptoms – which include a cough and cold.
How does honey do this?
This is firstly because it contains hydrogen peroxide which gives it anti-microbial properties. Due to this, it has been used in traditional medicine as a topical antibiotic for centuries.
And secondly, because it is thick and sticky, honey has a soothing effect on the throat that can reduce irritation and help relieve a dry, tickly cough.
In addition to eating it straight out of the jar with a spoon, honey can be served with lemon in tea.
There was also evidence honey reduces the time it takes to recover from URTIs by up to two days.
The study concluded that “When clinicians wish to prescribe for URTIs, we would recommend honey as an alternative to antibiotics. It is more effective and less harmful than usual care alternatives and avoids causing harm through antimicrobial resistance.’
Here at Reuthe’s-The Lost Gardens within our 11-acre Kent paradise, our beehives are nestled in our orchard so that the bees can feast on the flowers of quince, chestnut and apple. We have also sown areas of wildflower meadow, suited to the sandy ericaceous ground conditions, that flower early and later in the Season to ensure food sources for the bees are around throughout the year.
We harvest the honey in late Autumn and after filtering we decant the raw amber nectar into jars available to buy direct from our retail shop and online via www.reuthes.com
We also use it to make our famous Honey & Lavender Cake that we often serve in our charming Basecamp Café, open from 10am daily. I’d like to share the recipe with you:
280 g plain flour
200 g sugar
4 eggs, separated
100 ml sunflower oil
100 ml water
1 tsp. lavender oil or natural lavender extract
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
1 tbsp. clear honey
A pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
For the icing:
250 ml double cream
250 g mascarpone cheese
1 tbsp. raw honey
90 g icing sugar
Edible lavender flowers, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two 20-cm/8-inch cake tins with baking parchment.
Sift the flour into a bowl and add half the sugar and the baking powder. Put the egg yolks, oil, water, lavender and almond extracts, honey and salt in a separate bowl and beat until just barely combined.
Using a wooden spoon or spatula, add the dry ingredients in small additions, until fully incorporated. At this point, the mixture will be stiff, but it will loosen up once you start adding the egg whites.
Put the eggs whites and cream of tartar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or into a mixing bowl and use an electric hand-held whisk, and whisk to stiff peaks. Add a little of the whisked whites to the cake mixture, to loosen, then gently fold in the remaining whisked whites. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and bake for 20–25 minutes until a skewer inserted in the cakes comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before inverting on to a wire rack.
For the frosting, whisk the cream in a bowl, using a hand-held electric whisk, until medium-stiff. Add the mascarpone and honey and whisk for 1 minute. Finally add the icing sugar and whisk until incorporated. Spread half of the frosting onto one of the cakes. Place the other cake on top and, using a spatula, spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides.
Decorate with lavender flowers.
See you soon
Claire is the owner and custodian of Reuthes – the Lost Gardens of Sevenoaks www.reuthes.com