’Tis the season for sore throats!
The fluctuating temperatures of the change of seasons renders our immune system weak, making our bodies susceptible to these floating viruses waiting to find a host.
Or that person standing right near you is just waiting to pass on their strept infection (they may not even know they have it yet).
One of the most common symptoms people experience when catching a cold (or a more severe viral or bacterial infection) is a sore throat.
Being a naturopathic doctor in Toronto, regularly around this time of year I receive many inquiries on how to treat cold symptoms.
There are a number of ways to remedy a sore throat, but one of the most effective (and tasty!) ways is to take a spoonful of raw, unpasteurized HONEY, infused with garlic in order to soothe and heal this delicate mucus membrane.
Medical properties of Honey
Honey has been long used as medicine – with its use dating back to 5500BC until now, the properties of honey have been found to be efiective for infections (internal and external), wound healing, lowering cholesterol and cardiovascular risk.
Honey has potent anti-microbial properties, where studies have shown antimicrobial activity against a number of gram positive and gram negative bacteria, such as Haemophilus influenzae, the Streptococcus family, and the antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA.1
Anti-viral properties of honey have been studies, one finding that honey given to children with upper respiratory tract infections can reduce cough at night time.2
There are many mechanisms involved with the anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties of honey, but one of the most simplest ones comes from the fact that honey blocks the attachment of “bugs” to the tissues they’re trying to infect.
This is important when you’re exposed to someone with strept throat, or sore throat in general – by taking honey after exposure, you may be able to prevent the actual attachment and incubation of this bacteria, steering clear of infection.
On top of it’s anti-viral and anti-microbial properties, honey is also very soothing to the throat; it’s strong wound-healing properties stimulates the repair of damaged tissues and protection of mucus membranes from inflammation.
Add garlic to increase the anti-microbial, anti-viral effect
The anti-viral and anti-microbial and immune boosting properties of garlic have been long known in the medical community,3,4 so it’s a no brainer that combining these two natural foods would be a great way to battle sore throats and fight infection.
Along with it’s ability to fight infection, garlic is full of antioxidants (vitamin C, selenium, B-vitamins etc.), which can help keep the immune system strong during an infection.
By adding honey to the garlic, the slow-moving viscous honey can coat the throat, allowing the anti-viral, antimicrobial properties of both honey and garlic act longer on the affected tissues.
This is a very easy recipe – there are many on the web, but this is how I like to make this amazing remedy.
- 125mL or 250mL jars – or larger if you want to make a big batch!
- Raw, Unpasturized, Honey (Pasturization of honey rids this functional food of all it’s beneficial properties so isn’t beneficial to use)
- 1 head of organic garlic for 125mL or 2 heads of garlic for 250mL (or enough garlic to fill about 1/3 of the jar you would like to use)
- Break apart the garlic head. Crush the garlic with the flat surface of the knife (this will activate the garlic, release the juices, making it more potent, and it helps you peel the garlic quicker).
- Peel garlic and place the activated garlic in the jar – filling 1/3 of the jar.
- Fill the jar with honey
- Close the lid and store in a dark, cool place for at least a month before use (giving a good shake every week)
- Separate the cloves from the honey, to store in their own, air-tight jars. Keep the honey in a dark, cool place such as a cellar or the refrigerator. If you’re saving the cloves, they should definitely go in to the refrigerator.
At first signs of infection, you can actually eat the garlic to fight off the infection, but if you don’t want to do this (it’s potent!!), discard.
You can use the cloves for cooking to reduce waste and to give your dishes some extra flare (ahem, it’s amazing in salsas, and coconut curries).
Keep them in the fridge.
The garlic cloves don’t keep as long so use within the month after infusing.
The garlic infused honey should be good for up to a year.
Take 1/2 to 1 tsp of honey when you’re feeling a sore throat.
You can take this up to 3-4x/day (it’s pretty sweet and sugary so you don’t want to take too much!).
A great way to use this is for when you or your family are waking up with a sore throat because congested sinuses are forcing you to breathe through the mouth throughout the night.
If this is the case, taking it before bed, and on waking can help.
Due to the potent antimicrobial and anti-fungal effects of garlic and honey, this will prevent bacterial (Clostridium botulinum) and mold buildup in the honey, so this can keep for a while (a whole season).
I’ve never encountered any contamination of my garlic honey, but make sure to use CLEAN equipment when making this, and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before handling any ingredient.
DO NOT GIVE HONEY TO CHILDREN UNDER 1.5 YEARS OLD. Honey contains natural botulism spores. In kids over 1 and adults, our immune systems are strong and built up enough to naturally clear these spores.
Babies under 1 years old do not have the immune system to clear these spores and are at risk for botulism toxicity (floppy baby syndrome) and should NOT be fed honey.
Bees are special – they pollinate our plants, encourage genetic strength and survival of these plants by promoting cross-pollination, and are the only insects that produce food for human consumption.
They are important for our survival so please buy honey from ethical, sustainable farms.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
- Israili ZH., Antimicrobial properties of honey.Am J Ther. 2014 Jul-Aug;21(4):304-23
- Cotton MF, Innes S, Jaspan H, et al. Management of upper respiratory tract infections in children. So Afr Fam Pract. 2008;50:6–12
- Goncagul G, Ayaz EAntimicrobial effect of garlic (Allium sativum).Recent Pat Antiinfect Drug Discov. 2010 Jan;5(1):91-3.
- Harris JC. et. al. Antimicrobial properties of Allium sativum (garlic).Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2001 Oct;57(3):282-6.