The combination of honey and lemon is used in many traditional treatments all over the world, from Asia to Europe to Africa, particularly for flus, coughs, and other respiratory infections. Even without the evidence of any specific effect, the combination just feels soothing.
But, does it really work?
Science says yes – at least, when it comes to certain bacteria. Researchers in Cameroon tested the results using a combination of fresh lemon juice and commercially prepared honey against different types of bacteria and fungi. Their results were published in the International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences, a peer reviewed publication, in February 2019.
The researchers mixed the solution at five different concentrations of honey to lemon juice: 90/10, 75/25, 50/50, 25/75 & 10/90.
Exposing the bacteria to each solution created a zone around the microbes where growth was inhibited. Overall, the growth of all bacteria was inhibited in an inverse proportion to the percentage of honey.
- Staphylococcus aures was most sensitive to 25/75 honey to lemon mixture;
- Candida albicans was most sensitive to the 10/90 honey to lemon mixture;
- Streptococcus pyrogenes was also most sensitive to 25/75 honey to lemon mixture.
The most sensitive reaction of all was that of the s. aures bacteria.
Why does it work?
Citing other research papers, the authors note that some compounds common in lemons have already been shown to have antibacterial proeprties. These include;
- phenolic compounds;
- among others.
The researchers noted that both honey and lemon juice are acidic. In addition, honey is rich in hydrogen peroxide. They posit the theory that these elements could be the way that honey and lemon work together to deter bacteria growth.
An easy solution to feeling better
They point out that, due to financial hardship, many people receive inadequate treatment for respiratory infections. Using the same medications over and over can lead to microbial resistance.
With honey and lemon so easy to get, the mixture can be used as an alternative treatment to prescribed medicines in some cases.